Since the beginning of civilization, man has continually perfected the art of toolmaking to suit his lifestyle and needs. “Tools have changed our world,” said Cédric Guelin, chief executive officer, KS Tools France. “They’re the basis of innovation and at the heart of man’s spirit of invention. This is why at KS Tools we love tools. We started with one employee in 1997 and today, we have about 100 employees.”
The professional hand tool market is highly competitive and KS Tools clearly sees itself as a challenger. “We’re a young company in a booming market and in an industry where clients cultivate having zero stock and a ‘just-in-time’ philosophy, rapid response time is crucial,” he added. “However, at KS Tools, we have over 20,000 products in permanent storage in our warehouse to make sure our clients receive their products on time. And, rather than investing in our own production lines, we decided to have our products manufactured around the globe by specialists for each type of tool. The factory that manufactures screwdrivers only manufactures screwdrivers. The same for hammers and so on. It’s our way of ensuring the highest quality products while reducing our costs. For our retail clients and for the end consumer, the price/quality ratio is much more advantageous.”
To improve its operational efficiency when dealing with its distributors, KS Tools often needs to make changes to its ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) in response to its departments’ evolving requirements. “Our ERP system manages our activities, which include sales, client accounts, billing, stock, purchasing, and logistics,” Guelin said. “When a department has a new need, we submit the request to Dassault Systèmes business partner OPTI-ONE who is responsible for developing and implementing all ERP-related features in our system. Each request is managed as a project. However, as the number of projects increased, we were spending a lot of time looking through spreadsheets to see what the status of each request was, who was responsible, what actions were on-going or closed and repeat this process for every project. We needed a more efficient and better-performing system to keep track of each request. Moreover, since OPTI-ONE and KS Tools are located in two different cities, we would communicate through emails and phone calls, which quickly became cumbersome and time-consuming. We needed a way to simplify our collaboration.”
The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform on the cloud and its 3DSwym app was a viable and more attractive alternative. “3DSwym is a new mode of communication for us that eliminates emails and phone calls, brings structure to our follow-up activities while maintaining a history of every exchange,” Guelin said. “At all times, our mutual view of every project is the same, clear and up to date. This visibility helps reduce the time we spend on project management. In effect, 3DSwym is encouraging informal, real-time collaboration on a global scale, connecting people and giving them the opportunity for dynamic interaction. In fact, thanks to this solution, we’ve shaved off one hour per week in review sessions because everything is already on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Moreover, by working on the cloud, we not only avoided having to install additional hardware, which saved us time and money, but we were also up and running right away and able to execute and manage projects in no time. The cloud was definitely the right choice,” he said.
Initially, we thought the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was for large companies, but we were pleasantly surprised by the cloud-based immediate access and how flexible and easy it is to learn and deploy. Now that we’ve tasted its intuitiveness, versatility and power, we are glad we made this move.
Every project starts out with KS Tools submitting a request to OPTI-ONE in the form of an idea. Cédric Guelin looks at his screen for a quick review of current and past projects: “There are currently over 50 ideas posted in our community, some of which are under evaluation at OPTI-ONE while others are waiting for a response from KS Tools. With over 20,000 products in our warehouse and hundreds of client orders to manage every month, one idea that was submitted to streamline the logistics process is to have the ERP system automatically add the client’s order reference number to our packing lists. Every step of the way throughout the development process with OPTI-ONE, the status of the request and who’s treating it is displayed within ENOVIA, the project management application. For greater clarity, we use the 6WTags app, an intelligent and quick tagging system that enhances content for refining searches, to categorize the information by domain of application (e.g. logistics, sales administration, or purchasing) and then by priority. Filtering the information this way is more meaningful to the different project actors because it indicates first, who’s impacted by the action and second, depending on the urgency of the task, how they should organize their work,” Guelin said.
KS Tools uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud to also manage complex or long-term projects, particularly those involving more than one external contractor. “With the project management tools, we can plan each company’s tasks and enable all participants to provide feedback online in real time,” said Alexandre Weber, IT manager, KS Tools France. “Stakeholders are automatically notified by the system when they have an action and we use Gantt diagrams to visually represent the status of the different activities, which easily helps identify bottlenecks. With 3DEXPERIENCE on the cloud our large-scale projects ‘play out’ like a well-tuned orchestra with KS Tools as the conductor.”
Weber is conscious that they are currently only using a small percentage of the platform’s capabilities. “Although 3DSwym is primarily used today by our IT department, our experience so far has been extremely positive and has convinced us to add other department managers to our 3DSwym communities to work on other processes such as marketing or sales and why not, invite other KS Tools subsidiaries to share in this experience,” he said. “I really believe that connecting people via communities brings objectives and contents more sharply into focus.”
Initially, Guelin did not think of using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and 3DSwym for project management because he believed they were not suitable for a medium-size company like KS Tools. “I have to admit, when OPTI-ONE first suggested we use 3DEXPERIENCE to collaboratively manage our projects, we were a little surprised because we thought Dassault Systèmes’ solutions were more for big companies. We were wrong. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud is easy to deploy, is very flexible and easy to use thanks to its intuitive online interface and features. Working on the cloud brings people together, which inspires innovation. Finally, software upgrades are automatic, giving us the latest functions instantly without requiring any installation effort on our part. Now that we’ve gotten a taste of its simplicity, versatility and power, we are glad we made this move.”
KS Tools France is France’s number two professional hand tools supplier
Products: Hand tools and workshop equipment for industry and trade, construction, cars, utility vehicles, spare parts
Employees: 100 in France
Revenue: 30 M€ France
Headquarters: Mommenheim, France
For more information: www.kstools.fr
Focused on business processes, OPTI-ONE integrates and deploys Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to small and medium companies’ ERP systems, providing a premium service value while securing their project implementation in terms of both time and budget. Headquartered in Chartres, OPTI-ONE has offices in Paris and Nantes.
For more information: www.opti-one.fr