McAlpine Plumbling

Unlocking the value in heritage systems

By Joanne Pontee on 4th October 2019

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the go-live of one our systems, CIMPAC, with our long standing customer McAlpine & Co. Ltd.

McAlpine is a well respected brand in the plumbing trade.  Founded in the UK in 1907 they were one of the first companies to manufacture plastic traps in 1957 and today they export a wide range of plumbing products to 90 countries around the world.  McAlpine rely on our CIMPAC ERP system to manage their product data, orders, stock and invoicing.  The PDMS team in Glasgow has provided ongoing support and maintenance for the system over the years.  It’s a core system which has served them well but the team at McAlpine also recognised that change was required to help meet the new digital agenda.

Technology sector experts at TechMarketView are now referring to systems such as CIMPAC, which have stood the test of time, as “heritage” rather than legacy.  They also emphasise, that when it comes to legacy versus digital transformation, it isn’t always a case of either or – heritage and digital can quite happily co-exist.   Heritage systems have often benefited from significant investment over their lifetime and can contain a vast amount of data. They are often very complex, touching many different aspects of an organisation’s business and its processes and are, therefore, also extremely critical to the organisations that rely on them.  Replacing these systems with new more up to date technology platforms often comes with significant risk and higher risk leads to higher costs.

An often-overlooked alternative to a wholesale lift and shift replacement of an existing system, based on an older technology stack, is to consider the viability of upgrading these systems using new digital technologies. This is very much the approach we are taking to a number of our software systems we have developed for our clients.  This approach helps realise the inherent value these platforms deliver to a business whilst at the time upgrading them to benefit from new digital capabilities.  In addition, it reduces the risks of migrating to new systems and new suppliers and reduces the impact on an organisation’s day to day operations.

In the specific case of McAlpine, they wanted to respond to the evolving needs of their customers by providing richer product data in easily accessible formats.  In addition, they were also seeking to improve their productivity by storing important information on specific tool and machine set ups in one central location. McAlpine looked at off the shelf solutions but eventually decided to extend CIMPAC rather than introduce a secondary system, with all the complexities that would entail.

Together PDMS and McAlpine have embarked on a new project to enhance CIMPAC with a new browser-based system that provides a single source of accurate data for their business. It uses the existing CIMPAC database but has a much improved user interface with clearer navigation, and will provide a more intuitive user experience.

Graham McAlpine, Director of McAlpine & Co Ltd made the following comments about his experiences of working with PDMS, “At no time during the last 20 years have we been disappointed with the performance of PDMS and whenever we have requested improvements to CIMPAC they have been implemented in remarkably quick time”. Graham went on to add, “McAlpine look forward to working with PDMS over the forthcoming years in further improving CIMPAC.”

We are extremely proud of the fact that we’ve been a technology partner to McAlpine for over 20 years and both of our teams are excited by the prospect of building on the inherent value of our existing systems and the data held in them so they are digitally enabled for both now and the future.