Decision Inc. transforms ERG Africa mining operations with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Internal Stores Requisition Management solution

Microsoft partner Decision Inc. has implemented the Dynamics 365 Internal Stores Requisition Management (ISRM) solution at Eurasian Resources Group Africa (ERGA) to automate its inventory management and improve the operational efficiency of its mines throughout the continent.

About ERG

Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) is a leading diversified natural resources group. ERG Africa (ERGA) operates all ERG’s assets in Africa. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), ERGA mines cobalt and copper and produces cobalt hydroxide and copper concentrate.

Apart from its core cobalt and copper business, the development assets of ERGA include operations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mali to produce manganese, platinum, bauxite, fluorspar, and coal. The group is also developing a thermal coal project in Mozambique that is due to deliver up to 600MW of power.

The Requirement

Being a mining company with several capital projects and conducting its own plant maintenance, ERGA requires to have certain equipment and operational consumables on site and in stock to ensure work orders are completed timeously and capital project activities get completed according to deadline.

To this end, it has multiple warehouses on its mine sites where stock is stored for operational use. Previously, it used a manual paper-based system to requisition stock from these warehouses. This process was tedious and inefficient. The workers would have to personally submit a hard copy of their requisition to the warehouse for processing and issuing of stock. They would then have to wait in line while store personnel searched through thousands of items in large warehouses to see if the required item was in stock. This manual process was time consuming and resulted in many lost work hours.

Even though requisition papers could be posted in advance to save queues, these sometimes got lost, and there was no way to advise the requestor of stockouts – both situations resulted in workers not receiving their stock when they arrived to collect. Operators would therefore order essential spares in advance and create individual ‘pirate’ stores in workshops or around the plant, leading to waste and unnecessary re-stocking.

The Solution

Following a consultation process that began in August 2017 with Microsoft, partner Decision Inc. was selected to implement the Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Internal Stores Requisition Management (ISRM) solution at ERGA.

“The fundamental challenge ERGA needed to overcome was addressing the question of where was its stock. Without knowing stock levels or even where items were, the mines would not be able to operate as efficiently as possible. The Decision Inc. ISRM solution integrates with workflow to manage stock inventory automatically to empower users with the information they need to make the right decisions and complete projects on time,” says Christan Marais, lead consultant at Decision Inc.

The project was completed on 1 July 2019 with ERGA going live with eight sites.

The Benefits

Following the implementation of ISRM at ERGA, all the requisitions at the stores and issuing of stock processes were streamlined. Workers are now able to request stock directly from their computers, saving many operators many hours each month. Functionality includes the return process where issued items can be returned to the warehouse and the relevant cost centres credited with journals.

Users can easily track the status of their requisition and when it will be issued. This allows for better planning as well. The D365 Finance and Operations solution implemented by Decision Inc. can immediately locate needed stock items in alternative warehouses if the default storage location used by the worker is empty, saving countless phones calls and searching by stores supervisors. Stock management processes also improved which resulted in less “Out-of-Stock” situations.

Functionality to track stock take counting and the posting of relevant journals ensure an accurate stock on hand figure for each warehouse. It also provides the ability to trigger planned purchase orders (if required) once set-up is completed.

“With workflows now having approval structures built in, users do not have to track managers down to sign off their requisition requests. Everything happens online with the appropriate managers being emailed to approve orders. Furthermore, the Decision Inc. solution provides visibility of stock at an item level when goods are transported. It incorporates commercial invoicing functionality to ensure that border crossings are improved with border fines all but eliminated now,” says Marais.

With users able to make stock reservations with ISRM, it has also seen the removal of ‘pirate’ stores as only people who ordered the goods can receive it.

“Additionally, ISRM via enterprise asset management streamlines the process for breakdowns and scheduled maintenance. Planners are now able to ensure adequate stock levels before major services take place. This also lets users plan better for major shutdowns, for example on concentrators and furnaces,” concludes Marais.

About Decision Inc.

Decision Inc. is a global leader in information-driven transformation with a core focus on data, digital and performance intelligence. Our expertise in technology and industry specialisations have enabled us to help companies around the world make better decisions faster. Our emphasis on local excellence and global scale enables us to bring clients best of breed technology solutions that enable significant improvement whilst leveraging our Global Research and Innovation teams to accelerate the time to insight. Our local consulting teams are experts in the implementation, support, and execution of these solutions and work with our clients to deliver real results and improvement.

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