A South Wales engineering firm is gearing up to triple its output after investment in new digital technologies has helped to improve efficiency, reduce customer response times and make cost savings that enabled a relocation to a new, expanded manufacturing and storage facility.
Motion29 manufactures and distributes a wide range of industrial components, including custom-made connectors and safety sensors. For more than a decade its owners, Andrew Wilkinson and Steve Fisher, have looked at different ways to use the latest technologies to streamline every area of its operations and gain competitive advantage through the way it markets and supplies its products.
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“Investment in digital has made us more responsive to customer demands”
“As a management team, we’ve always had a real focus on how we can use software and other technology to enhance the way we operate as a business,” explained Motion29 director, Andrew Wilkinson. “We operate in an extremely competitive marketplace, both here in the UK and overseas, but investment in digital technology has enabled us to work in ways we couldn’t previously and has definitely made us more responsive to customer demands.”
Evidence from the latest Digital Maturity Survey for Wales 2018, published by The Welsh Economy Research Unit (WERU) of Cardiff Business School, suggests that manufacturing companies in Wales are becoming more confident in using digital technology to drive efficiency, with three-in-four now selling online as well as topping the list of sectors for online purchasing. Manufacturing sector SMEs are also most likely to have a dedicated IT budget to support continued investment in digital infrastructure.
Motion29 is a prime example; moving into an expanded manufacturing and distribution facility near Blackwood last year provided access to a high-speed broadband connection, enabling it to make further investment in new technologies. This included a new voice-over-internet (VoIP) telephone system – a technology that the firm first piloted in 2006 but later abandoned due to issues with speed and reliability.
The company also invested in Quoteworks, an online estimating system that was able to feed directly into its existing customer relationship management (CRM) software and switched over to Microsoft’s internet-based Office 365 system, providing further flexibility and opportunities for time and cost saving. The 2018 Digital Maturity Survey also reflects a growing trend in businesses adopting CRM software to outsmart their rivals, while findings suggest that 72% are using at least one cloud-based software package to reduce paperwork and improve collaboration.
“Following one-to-one advice we’re looking at options for a new, fully integrated ERP system that integrates all areas of the business”
Using their experience of working for a global manufacturing company, the two directors set up Motion29 in 2006, recognising an opportunity to create a business that was more agile and prepared to embrace modern technology in areas such as tele-communications, accounting and customer relationship management. After launching with a basic website, they introduced their first ‘online catalogue’ in 2008, adding an e-commerce facility that was fully integrated with their accounting software two years later.
Motion29 recently signed up to the Welsh Government’s Superfast Business Wales programme, attending a workshop on social media strategy and commissioning a full website review that led to some important improvements to its online presence. It also had one-to-one advice from a specialist business adviser and is now looking at options for a new, fully integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that integrates all areas of the business, from purchasing and inventory, to product development, sales, marketing and finance.
“Superfast Business Wales enabled us to call on independent advice when considering new technology solutions”
“Our investment in technology has been driven by a range of factors, from efficiency and cost savings to improving way our teams work and finding better ways to showcase our products and capabilities,” added Wilkinson. “We are quite a niche business and our customers are generally looking for quick solutions to specific problems, so it’s really important to have detailed and accurate data and product information at our fingertips.
“The involvement of Superfast Business Wales has also been a positive in terms of shaping our thinking on digital marketing, as well as being able to call on independent advice when considering new technology solutions and deciding which is going to be best for our business. We feel we are in a good place at the moment, but there are always opportunities to improve, so we will continue to keep an open mind and consider our options.”