Apex Stainless to optimise use of data 13 March 2024

UK-based Apex Stainless is looking forward to 2024 as it plans to increase the use of data within the business, thanks to a new ERP system that will help unlock more efficiency gains, as well as deliver a better customer experience. 

Over recent years Apex Stainless has taken several steps in various functions within the company in order to use data to help deliver business benefits and gains. The new ERP system is the next step in this process and the company hopes it will act as a catalyst for the business going forward.

“After 32 years, we decided in 2023 that it was the right time to change our ERP system,” explains David Vahter, managing director at Apex Stainless Fasteners Ltd. “From the very first day of setting up the system we were able to sell, distribute and invoice. Whilst, as one might expect, it took a while to settle into the new system, after only a few weeks we were already back at the service levels we expect.”

 David continues: “We are convinced that we can use data to help further streamline the business and we achieve this through a combination of improved performance within our operations and through the delivery of new digitised services. For example, orders are now completely paperless, which is also an important step forward in our drive to achieve a sustainable future.”

Learning from 2023

Finding those wins for the company, and its customers, is going to be a key focus in 2024 for Apex Stainless, especially after the challenges of the previous year. “I think it is fair to say that the market leading up to 2023 was quite turbulent and while we saw supply stabilising during the year, due to a lower underlying demand, there were still several other macroeconomic challenges we needed to manage,” reports David. “Inflation, low unemployment and high interest rates were on top of the agenda in most countries. The cost of running a business today is far from pre-pandemic levels, which I think will continue to be a defining factor over the coming years for many businesses.”

David points out that 2023 was also the year to prepare for the introduction of new compliance directives, such as Russian Sanctions and CBAM, and in both cases BREXIT was a complicating factor. “In some aspects, we are pushing paper like never before and the importance of data is proving more and more crucial when it comes to these new regulations and directives. Compliance is certainly an area that is requiring more attention by businesses. For some of our customers the burden of compliance will open up a few questions in terms of their own supplier base, which is why it is important we are able to show that we are at the forefront of managing this topic.”

Looking forward, David also believes there is an opportunity for the business through nearshoring, with the various challenges within the world leading to uncertainty within markets. “Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine does not seem like it will be resolved anytime soon, with the consequences of the war having now reached the Far East supply side with the introduction of UK notice NTI2953 and EU regulation 833/2014 (11th package). In 2024 there will also be the presidential elections in the USA, which have the potential to create more uncertainty. US politics under Biden have been characterised with a move away from China as one of its main trading allies. It is clear from the outside that when China’s ambition changed to producing more sophisticated products, they became more of a threat for the US than just a trading partner of low cost goods. With China being a more prominent figure in the East, and South China Sea, as well as the controversy around Taiwan, one can perhaps foresee more upcoming political tensions.”

David continues: “These topics matter because cash flow, lead times and compliance will all be big considerations for businesses in 2024 and beyond, with companies looking at their suppliers. In this aspect, businesses like Apex can add real significant value to our customers by offering them stock on a short lead time, with sound payment terms and without the need to reassure a certain compliance across a large number of parts and suppliers. Through the foundations that are already in place, as well as the ongoing investments into our operations, we are very excited to see where it takes the business in the next few years, because it has the potential to be highly transformative for us.”  





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