Veer Steel Mills (VSM) is a structural long steel producer with a wide range of steel products. Based in Gauteng, South Africa, it seeks to optimise locally sourced raw material and produce various steel products to the required specification and commercial quality acceptable across the country.
“Our intention and commitment is to add value to the steel scrap metal industry in South Africa, transforming scrap metal into trusted finished products available on the local market,” says Ashish Verma, Chief Financial Officer, VSM. Its product range includes high quality equal angle, unequal angle, square, round and flat steel bars together with hot rolled steel channels, IPEs and window sections steel.
Having begun operations in 2011, its initial capacity saw VSM producing up to 1,500 tons of product per month. However, by May 2018, VSM’s capacity had increased to 4,500 tons each month with no signs of abating.
“Our expansion has been driven chiefly by customer demand,” continues Verma. “We found ourselves in the position whereby we were receiving more orders than what we could cope with.”
In response to this market demand, VSM set about developing a growth and expansion strategy that will see production increase to as much as 10,000 tons per month from January 2019, with orders totaling 80% of this capacity already confirmed.
But, with growth and expansion comes added requirements. In addition to increasing its production facilities to include that of a melting capacity to allow for production of its own billets as opposed to sourcing elsewhere, its increased capacity also saw VSM procuring additional equipment, extending its product range to include new items and increasing its staff complement to 700 employees.
It has also required a complete review and overhaul of VSM’s existing IT infrastructure. “Our legacy system only had to cope with low volumes, thus it was fit for purpose,” says Verma. However, recent and continuing expansion dictated the pressing need for an automated and integrated software infrastructure capable not only of managing all aspects of daily operations effectively, but simultaneously providing accurate and real-time reporting at the touch of a button.
“It is critical to control all areas of operations, and the company, in order to ensure a sustainable and efficient business,” adds Verma. Without such controls in place, VSM would find itself exposed to unnecessary risk across various parts of its operations. “VSM is also very cost sensitive,” continues Verma, facilitating the need for strict control measures to be put in place throughout the business.
Clear on its requirements, VSM set about reviewing potential offerings, almost settling on a supplier, based in India, able to deliver a customised solution. However, its lack of in country resources prohibiting the ability to offer 24×7 support, quickly discounted it in favour of a local vendor.
“I had heard of 4most and its SAP Business One offering, so when we opted to ‘go local’, I already had them in the back of my mind,” says Verma. An initial meeting with 4most, a leading supplier and implementer of SAP Business One and ERP software technology, quickly resulted in it being selected as vendor of choice.
“We were happy with the technology, able to meet every single one of our requirements from cost and stock control to our production chain (monitoring through to breakdown and costings), amongst other,” says Verma. “We were happy with the pricing and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), tailored commercially to suit our business and our requirements. But, we were also as happy with the people behind the business and the relationship that quickly took root.”
“With the expansion and subsequent business restructuring, in addition to a significant increase in its staff complement, there was no doubt VSM needed an improved structure and increased professionalism across its operations,” says Marius Fabian, CEO, 4most. “Using technology to add value is key,” continues Fabian. “At 4most, our focus is always on implementing business solutions that fit our customer’s requirements and become a part of the fabric of its business. It is, and always should be, about so much more than simply implementing a new system.”
With development underway and ‘go live’ scheduled for November, Verma is excited and enthusiastic when looking to the future.
Improved controls over costs and reporting are just some of the highlights Verma is looking forward to. With reporting currently a manual operation, time consuming and prone to human error, automated and accurate real-time reporting, afforded by SAP Business One’s functionality, is set to make a significant difference to daily operations at VSM.
“The ability to accurately predict trends, manage stock control and generally have greater visibility, and insight, into each and every facet of daily operations, throughout the business, is critical to timeous and informed business decision making,” stresses Verma. “Together with my colleagues, I am very confident that SAP Business One will meet, and exceed, all of our expectations as it continues to grow with us over the coming years.”
Fabian concurs. “The added advantage of SAP is the constant research and development. As a result, our customers remain on the very forefront of technology. I have no doubt that Veer Steel Mills will benefit from this, not only post initial implementation but also down the line with any future developments and requirements able to be easily accommodated.”