Howco Group implements ERP solution from Jonas Metals

Oil and gas energy supplier implements solution throughout 14 operations in eight countries

Oil and gas energy supplier implements solution throughout 14 operations in eight countries

October 2018 - Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Howco Group plc is an independent processor and distributor of metal products to the oil and gas industry. The manufacturer sought an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that could meet current requirements across multiple functions and operations and adapt to future growth.

Howco Group works with steel, chrome molybdenum, duplex, stainless and nickel-based alloys. Its processes include sawing, forging, machining, drilling, heat treatment, pressure testing, inspection, cladding, coating, finishing, fabrication and assembly.

After diligently evaluating 21 ERP systems, Howco found its answer from Jonas Metals Division (JMD), which was formed after the merger between Compusource (now Jonas Metals USA) and Metalogic UK, Wallingford, England. Backed by Constellation Software Inc., and with a client base of over 560 sites worldwide, JMD possesses the resources to implement and support any size service center.

JMD created iMetal specifically for the metals sector. The system is workflow-based, meaning that the application meets the requirements of metals distributors “out of the box” and the implementation process consumes significantly fewer resources than customized generic ERP products.

Integrated supply chain communication from mills to end users, data transfer, speed of information processing and communication reduces the time and effort typically needed to receive and place orders in any type of material in any form, from aerospace alloys to carbon steel, JMD claims.

iMetal modules such as automated load and route planning, inventory forecasting, mobile shop floor data communication, plus 1D and 2D cutting optimization, enable distributors to efficiently purchase, plan processing, and service clients.

MM 1018 software image1

iMetal contains specific features to work with processing inventory, optimization, material testing, and quality and standards compliance.


iMetal ERP software includes sales quotations, purchase order processing, integrated costing, office management, process costing, production planning, stock forecasting, delivery and logistics planning, invoicing, and financial reporting.

Howco uses iMetal to gain secure access to information from remote locations and can create customized processes, data gathering and reporting documents on demand.

“One of our biggest challenges as a global manufacturing company was understanding our recoveries on the work that we are shipping out,” says Stanton Fraser, head of global information technology of Howco Group. “Our previous ERP system did not give full visibility of our financial performance within specific manufacturing areas. With the implementation of iMetal, we now fully understand our financial performance of each department and ensure all our costs are recoverable. This knowledge allows us to focus on increasing efficiency within departments to increase profitability as well as expand in areas that are doing well.”

Through its multi-language user interface and forms, iMetal has enabled Howco to improve its data management and maintain customer service levels. iMetal was implemented in 14 locations in eight countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific region. The first phase of implementation took place in Canada and was completed within three months; the other branches should be operational within 10 months.

Howco now operates over 240 licenses across the group. “One of the greatest cost savings that we saw from iMetal came from its licensing,” Fraser says. “Because we are a globally positioned company, we are able to have concurrent licensing allowing us to pay for active licenses only.”

During Howco’s RFP processes, other ERP software providers required “named” licenses, which would have required 1,100 user licenses. “The savings from this alone in concurrent licensing reduced our annual spend on ERP by 50 percent,” he notes.

Supportive modules

Howco uses iMetal modules to maximize commercial opportunity while minimizing administrative and business costs. iMetal provides integration across the full business processes, including proactive customer management through fully traceable stock control, accounts and reporting.

The ERP system contains a number of specific features to work with processing inventory, optimization, material testing, and quality and standards compliance.

As a totally integrated core system, each module gives users the maximum information with the minimum effort, allowing improved productivity and real-time data through business intelligent systems integrated within each application.

As Howco Group reviewed its options, says Fraser, “It was evident there were several areas where iMetal outperforms other ERP systems in our space and where it had significant synergies with the way we operated. Our first implementation site was more than a year ago and we are seeing the benefits of both the performance and the synergies in the measurable process improvements.”

In August 2017, Howco was tested due to record-breaking flooding in Houston during and after Hurricane Harvey. JMD help staff was available to enact any operation’s transfers from the live system to the business continuity system.

Sage, iMetal’s accounting and business management software suite, allows Howco Group to satisfy all global tax requirements along with international audit requirements.

According to Fraser, iMetal and Sage’s integrated application controls enabled Howco to complete three audits. “The overwhelming success of these audits—two customer and one internal—assures senior management and shareholders that the proper controls are in place to adhere to corporate compliance rules.

“We initially evaluated 21 other ERP systems, but JMD has far exceeded any benefits we saw with other products and significantly reduced the risk of business disruption during the implementation process,” Fraser says.

“We took into consideration the learning curve for each of the 21 systems that we evaluated. iMetal clearly won in this review. Instead of spending endless capital on making modifications to a new ERP system to work with our internal processes and procedures, iMetal’s flexible work flows made the transition almost seamless.” MM


Howco Group plc.
Jonas Metals USA
La Palma, California