Case study: Securing growth: ATG Access and Priority ERP

4 min read

Established in 1989, ATG Access Ltd is a leading manufacturer of hostile vehicle mitigation bollards, road blockers and barriers. It is one of the UK's leading security engineering companies, providing physical perimeter security solutions for sites around the world that include The Shard in London, The Bund in Shanghai, and Los Angeles Airport, LAX as well as projects that have included the 2012 London Olympics.

Now part of HS Security, a division of Hill and Smith PLC, ATG Access is based in the Merseyside, with four manufacturing facilities in the UK, Singapore, the UAE and the USA. Beyond this, ATG has a network of over twenty international partners. It is a notable international success story with more than a decade of exporting products to a variety of countries.

Built originally on success in the residential security market, ATG Access unveiled their first automatic rising bollards in 1991, and in in 2005 secured PAS 68 accreditation by successfully dead-stopping a bollard with a 7.5-tonne truck travelling at 80kph. This was followed by further innovation in 2007 as ATG designed and tested the first shallow foundation bollard and took their market leading technology to overseas markets, namely Singapore, Malaysia and the UAE..

Since then, ATG Access has sent products to over forty countries and currently employs approximately seventy-five people across manufacture, installation, after-sales and maintenance.

Technology at the heart of growth

Priority ERP has been a vital component of this success story. Following a thorough review of the market, Priority was chosen, with implementation by leading UK partner Medatech. Implemented following a 2007 MBO (management buy-out), Priority has been vital in providing standardised, best practice processes that have driven growth.

Ian Brooks, service manager at ATG Access explains: “Our leadership has always been driven by a pragmatic approach. This meant that from the beginning, we looked for a system of record that was focussed on manufacturing and could deliver a centralised ERP that enabled us to scale quickly.”

Growth dominated these initial concerns, specifically improving the management of work orders and sub-contractors.

At the same time, there was a need to rationalise customer information from several separate databases into a single central store for use by the whole organisation. This necessitated a single system instead of a range of different departmental spreadsheets.

Looking at production, there was also a need for project management to be fully integrated with the other disciplines of the business, especially the control of inventory, including stocks held by the servicing department.

This would need to be summarised into an integrated reporting capability for costs and revenues throughout different ledgers.

Growing pains

Despite these initial considerations, as ATG Access has evolved, it has developed a range of offerings based on the sale, installation, service, and maintenance of its range of products. This led to a range of customisations of the ERP, to react quickly to new opportunities.

Ian Brooks continues: “Priority is extremely easy to use and configure and customises, so as we enjoyed huge growth, we saw a lot of ‘scope creep.’Over time this led to slower processes and an excessive management burden to keep those customisations working. As a result, we took the strategic decision to strip back a lot of our processes to the ‘vanilla’ templates within Priority.”

This programme led to much leaner, faster processes within ATG Access. One notable example has been the availability of precise, fast data around the cost of goods sold (COGS), which is now reported on much more accurately.

Controlled growth

This combination of improved visibility and a leaner profile has been critical in enabling ATG Access to achieve substantial scalability. The efficient entry and handling of data in a single integrated database has led to a step change in the management of cost and revenue.

For example, ATG have been able to exploit the fact that many of their sub-assemblies are common across end products, and so they have gained significantly using batch production techniques. This has been combined with improved control of stock and inventory materials.

This had had a substantial impact on the financial performance of ATG Access’ production and manufacturing. However, these production concerns have not been at the cost of the service demands of traceability. Using the ERP, ATG Access can identify the exact staff, time and location involved in any production run.

Focus and flexibility have also been maintained as line managers and super users have collaborated to adapt and evolve processes ‘on the fly’ leading to a series of iterative improvements. For example, by introducing packing slips, ATG was able to initially enjoy better inventory management. This then developed into the use of specific serial numbers for tracking granular data such as matching keys to locks and packing personnel.

In the case of any queries, this means ATG can identify not only if the right lock is with the right key, but who was responsible for packing and thus trace any issues. Capabilities such as these have formed the basis of Key Performance Indicators, drawn directly from the Priority database to improve customer service.

Other customer service improvements have included a better visibility of customer requirements, service history, service contracts, returned materials and field service appointments. Combined with improved alignment of van stocks and tracking of service call, this has led to huge improvements in customer satisfaction.

The net result of these changes, enabled by the Priority ERP system has been a consistent track record of growth and process improvements.

Priority ERP also played a key role in enabling ATG to adapt to the COVID pandemic. Ian Brooks explains: “Our transition was pretty seamless – as a cloud-based system, we were able to ensure everyone could work from home and due to our production layout in the UK we were able to maintain some production capacity. Whilst there will undoubtedly be some delay in some orders, we have been able to maintain a substantial proportion of our operation.”

Growth ahead

Looking to the future, Priority ERP will be at the heart of initiatives as ATG Access looks to develop even more specialised products, trading on the engineering excellence and world-leading intellectual property it has developed. Ian Brooks concludes: “We began our path to growth using Priority ERP and the know-how from the team at Medatech - it has been a winning team for us, and we have no intention of changing that formula as we move into more specialised products and services that will continue to keep ATG access at the very forefront of the physical security market.”