Ralpro improves manufacturing productivity by 500% with a custom ERP system built using Zoho Creator

"While traditional ERPs were demanding around 40 to 50 lakhs for implementation and a yearly maintenance charge of around 20 lakhs—excluding the infrastructure—we've built and are running our custom ERP for just three lakhs per year, including the cloud hosting for Zoho Creator."

Phani Varma, Executive Director, Ralpro

Created by : Ralpro India

No. of employees : 60

Use case : Manufacturing ERP

Industry : Manufacturing

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Ralpro used Zoho Creator to build a manufacturing ERP system customized for every step of their manufacturing processes. The ERP system automates processes in their order management, tool room (die shop), production planning, production, quality control, packing, dispatch, and billing processes, along with a customer portal. It has eliminated errors at every step and improved the organization's overall productivity by 500%.

The company

Ralpro is one of the fastest-growing aluminum extrusion companies in India. They manufacture aluminum profiles for various industries and are one of the leading producers of high-quality extruded aluminum products across industries such as automotive, lighting, construction, HVAC, electrical, solar energy, and more.

The challenges

Ralpro delivers around 440 tons of product every month. Each order they get is unique and involves various parameters, like shape, length, alloy, temper, packaging, rate type, and more. All subsequent steps in the business process—like production planning, packing, and distribution—need to be customized based on these parameters.

"Each bundle of finished goods weighs around 30 kg on average, so around 15,000 packages need to packed, weighed, labeled, and dispatched each month. Once packed, all packages look the same, which makes it really difficult for the dispatch team to identify them—which led to frequent errors."

- Phani Varma

These challenges resulted in very low productivity, lack of visibility for management, and far too many errors at each step of their process, from order management to billing, due to lack of data available to employees.

The search for a ready-made software tool was not successful, as they weren't designed for our industry, were only adding additional effort to the employees, and were very expensive to implement and manage," Varma says. "We were using Excel, WhatsApp, and hard copies to manage our business process, but employee productivity was so low that we were only able to deliver around 180 tons per month.

The solution

Ralpro India
Ralpro India

An ERP that works on the web and mobile

I started exploring Zoho Creator to build an ERP system without much experience in the platform," Varma says, "but I was able to quickly master the platform and replicate our complex business process steps in an app.

In a few weeks, Varma built a fully functional ERP system for Ralpro at a very low cost, automating most of their business process's steps.

We went live with the ERP on February 1, 2022, and it was instant success," Varma reports. "Our monthly dispatch quickly increased from around 180 tons in January 2022 to 440 tons in December 2022.

Now employees can access data anywhere they go—the shop floor, client meetings, project sites—because the entire solution can be downloaded as a mobile app. The system's centralized data storage enables employees to access data at any time.

"The best part is how the same application can shared with multiple stakeholders with different set of permissions. We have around 10 departments in the company using this application. But not everyone has access to everything, each department has it's own view—things that are only required for their day-to-day activities."

- Phani Varma

Modules of Ralpro's custom manufacturing ERP system

Order management

At Ralpro, the specifications for every order change continuously, which they previously had to capture in 10 to 20 different fields. However, Varma used Zoho Creator's workflows to reduce the number of user inputs to only two, and to auto-populate the rest of the fields via a series of validation rules in the backend. This has enabled their employees to get their work done faster and more efficiently, without errors.

"The high-level design principles I followed while building were minimal input, an intuitive interface, validations to minimize errors, and data integrity," Varma says. "The system is smart enough to fill most of the fields in automatically, so that the user doesn't enter it again."

- Phani Varma

Production planning

Ralpro's production planning module collects various information and data from modules and sub-modules of the production planning ERP system and then analyzes it to plan the production. Conflicts in the production process are identified at an early stage, which avoids losses for the business. The module also generates the production schedule for all the machines to improve efficiency on the production line. Production planning makes the best use of all the resources in the industry; hence, the maximum output is yielded within the expected time frame.

Quality management

Quality control management performs assessments at various checkpoints to track the quality of the manufactured item. Quality management helps Ralpro inspect and maintain the quality of manufactured items so that they meet certification standards. Users can define various aspects and test criteria in this module.

Stock management, dispatch, and billing with QR codes

For every package, the application generates a unique QR code. Labels with the QR codes are printed for each package, and when the QR codes are scanned on the mobile app, employees can see all data related to the package.

"Before we implemented Zoho Creator, our factory was shutdown on 1st of every month for physical stock check but now it is available real time."

- Phani Varma

If a package doesn't belong to a particular shipment, the application simultaneously displays an error and halts any billing until all the packages in a shipment are scanned. This has helped Ralpro eliminate errors wherein either the incorrect or incorrect quantity of packages are sent to customers.

Web and mobile customer portal

The customer portal is a self-service portal that provides a single point of access, where Ralpro's customers can register to see their payment details, requirements, quotations, and the status of their invoices. This has created a fully transparent system for the customers.

"We became the first extrusion plant in India to have a customer portal. Our customers have real-time updates for when orders are produced, packed, and delivered. They can also view and print packing lists and invoices from the customer portal."

- Phani Varma

The portal is mobile friendly and functions across devices. Ralpro were also able to add new features to their app without affecting their production process using the Sandbox inside Zoho Creator.

"When e-invoicing became mandatory we implemented the same in Zoho Creator so all our invoices are submitted to Government portal in realtime. QRcode and IRN number generated in the Government portal are fetched real time and printed in the invoice."

- Phani Varma

Real-time analytics and dashboards

The analytics and dashboards built using Zoho Creator's drag-and-drop builder helps stakeholders keep track of orders and costs, analyze performance metrics, and compare budget scenarios to actual revenue. Since the modules are interconnected, they can generate reports on cross-functional data to analyze the need for raw material and storage of manufactured products.

Benefits and ROI

Ralpro saw the following benefits after implementing the custom ERP system they built using Zoho Creator:

  • Improved productivity by 500%.
  • Eliminated dependency on employees for billing and stock management.
  • Eliminated the errors in dispatches.
  • In a course of 11 months, their monthly dispatch increased from 180 tons to 440 tons.
  • Made significant improvements in customer satisfaction with the customer portal, which is now becoming the deciding factor in acquiring and retaining customers.

"There's no way you're sending the wrong material to customers, which is a real problem in most organizations in the extrusion industry. We've addressed this through an innovative approach with Zoho Creator. It's a game changer."

- Phani Varma

Looking towards the future

What started as a small experiment is now a huge ERP running the operations of Ralpro. Also, as and when market needs arise, they keep adding new features to their Zoho Creator application.

Varma says, "It was a great journey for me as an owner of a manufacturing unit to design, build, implement, and provide technical support for the ERP application by myself. It's a dream come true."

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zoho Creator?

Zoho Creator is a low-code application development platform that enables users to create custom applications on their own, with minimal coding experience. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface empowers developers and business users to build web and mobile applications that satisfy all their unique requirements with ease.

Are applications built on Zoho Creator scalable?

Applications built on Zoho Creator are built to auto-scale; the back-end infrastructure seamlessly scales as business demand grows. Currently, over 14,000 customers across over 180 countries are using over 6,000,000 applications built using Zoho Creator—a testimony to the platform's power.

Does Zoho Creator have a free plan?

Yes, Zoho Creator has a free plan that comes with a limited feature set for only one user, one application access, 250 MB storage, and 1,000 records. However, you have the option to upgrade to the paid plan whenever you wish.

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