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Learn how an electronics manufacturer unifies data and gains agility using Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

Bel Fuse designs, manufactures, and markets electronic circuits products at 24 manufacturing locations across North America, Europe, and Asia. The company’s existing enterprise resource planning solution was highly customized and expensive to maintain, so it decided to deploy Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Bel Fuse unified data and can now more easily manage its supply chain operations and finance processes, gaining more agility to respond quickly to changes in the market or its suppliers.

Essential step in the supply chain

A typical consumer might interact with Bel Fuse products and not even know it. The manufacturer makes the components that power, protect, and connect electronic circuits in products we use every day. Bel Fuse is usually in the middle of the supply chain, relying on smaller parts from its suppliers before passing components on to the manufacturers that create finished products.

Founded in 1949, the company has grown significantly in the last 20 years through acquisitions. It has seven business groups, including Bel Power Solutions, which it acquired in 2014. Bel Power Solutions makes the power conversion products for server and storage networks at large server farms and in industrial products like the power sources in hybrid electric vehicles and trains.

To manage its enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes, Bel Power Solutions used a legacy version of Oracle that was highly customized and difficult to update. The version was outdated and the month-to-month costs and support for the solution were expensive.

With different business units using different ERP systems, Bel Fuse wanted to find an affordable solution to unify the company’s finance and operations processes, starting with Bel Power Solutions. Bel Fuse also needed a solution that would support its material requirements planning (MRP) process, a production planning, scheduling, and inventory control system to manage its manufacturing processes.

“Our MRP processing goes in both directions—we require a full dataset and forecasting of what’s coming to us and what’s going out,” says Scott Hasterlik, Director Global IT at Bel Fuse. “We have power assets with 500 components and 65,000 SKUs, so we needed a robust solution to share nonstandard information quickly.”

An integrated solution for finance and operations

After careful evaluation, Bel Fuse found that Microsoft Dynamics 365 had the right capabilities at the right price for the company’s needs. With Dynamics 365, Bel Fuse had a single system for the first time, the ability to report globally, and a solution that was intuitive to use and easy to add users.

Bel Fuse uses Dynamics 365 Finance to automate its financial operations, monitor performance in real time, predict future outcomes, and make data-driven decisions. For operations, the company deployed Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, which includes an MRP function and AI to improve visibility across its global supply chain and to improve manufacturing productivity.

To aid the quick, seamless deployment process, Bel Fuse worked with Flintfox, a Gold competency member of the Microsoft Partner Network. “Flintfox jumped in, understood what we wanted to accomplish, and helped us move forward on budget,” says Hasterlik. “Flintfox has been a fantastic partner and is still our partner of record.”

A wide range of Bel Power Solutions employees now rely on the Finance and Supply Chain Management business applications. Users include staff in customer service, quality assurance, demand and product returns, manufacturing and supply chain ordering, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and engineering. “From decision makers to factory floor managers, everyone is working in Dynamics 365, staying connected and accessing valuable data,” says Stefan Naude, General Manager, Slovakia, at Bel Fuse.

Reduced costs, disparate systems eliminated

Bel Fuse accomplished its central goal—to reduce the high costs of its previous ERP system while bringing data together in one solution. The company built the capacity it needed without a lot of customizations, helping ensure that the solution would stay flexible in the future. “With Dynamics 365, we save nearly USD2 million per year in IT service and support fees compared to our previous, highly customized solution,” says Mark Hodkinson, Vice President of Finance for the Bel Power Solutions Group at Bel Fuse.

Bel Fuse also reduced costs because it now has the tools to fulfill more of its own finance needs internally. For example, a Bel Fuse engineering and distribution site in Italy previously paid an outside firm to do its accounting. “It was easy to move the Italy site into Dynamics 365 and transfer all that work internally to our team in Slovakia,” says Hodkinson. “Now our own team manages the facility’s day-to-day finances even though they aren’t located in Italy. With a common system, we have better access to our own internal talent.”

Increased visibility and agility

With Dynamics 365, Bel Fuse gained a more global view of financial data and can perform more accurate forecasting. “I always view orders and revenue from a global perspective because the locations are all connected and have so many intercompany transactions,” says Hodkinson. “I rely on Dynamics 365 to help me make sense of complex financial histories to stay on top of complicated billing and payment processes at multiple sites.”

With ERP data now centralized and easy to access in the cloud, Bel Fuse can respond with more agility to complex, changing circumstances. When employees in Italy, China, and other countries needed to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis, the company was able to effectively run remote finance and supply chain operations. “We kept all our finance functions moving forward even though we don’t have anyone physically in the office,” says Hodkinson. “We were impressed that our team was able to get everything done while working from home for the first time, and I think that speaks to how intuitive Dynamics 365 Finance was for our team.”

As a mid-chain supplier, Bel Fuse is committed to continuing its operations on time and not becoming a bottleneck in the process. With the MRP functionality in Dynamics 365, the company has a deeper, more precise view into its supply chain and more flexibility when its suppliers face disruptions. Employees use self-generating reports to review sales orders and purchase orders and to track factory production.

“Our system quickly shows us when parts haven’t arrived on time, and we can pivot to load our production with parts that are available,” says Naude. “With Dynamics 365, we streamlined our planning and have flexibility to adapt to our vendors and adjust our inventory—all while remaining a reliable supplier.”