Marefa International squeezes out bottlenecks and puts a lid on uncontrolled costs with SAP Business One

SAP Business One was the only ERP package that offered a fully integrated project management solution

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Visionary, fast-growing bottling equipment manufacturer, Marefa has tightened up its processes to achieve unprecedented efficiencies, enhance productivity, and reduce costs with SAP Business One, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for small and mid-sized companies.


For the first time, the company can manage projects from start to finish from within a single integrated system. This enables Marefa to plan effectively on an individual component level as well as on a macro project level; track costs and sales opportunities more effectively, and ensure that the right people have access to the right information at the right time.


“Immediate access to accurate information has enabled better decision-making and increased our agility, and automation of processes, has streamlined our production and administrative efficiencies. Consequently, Marefa is better-positioned to leverage new opportunities and place greater emphasis on innovation, customer service and growing the business,” Schalk Greeff, Operations Manager.


“This has turned the company from being largely reactive to being proactive; highly- appropriate for Marefa because our name, directly translated from Swahili, means ‘insight’,” continues Greeff.


Marefa is a large scale manufacturer of bottling equipment for companies in South Africa and internationally. Supplying and servicing the bottle-filling market since 1999, it has built a firm reputation of excellence in the research, development, design, testing and manufacture of a wide range of bottling equipment including filling, capping, labelling and handling machines.


The company has a team of highly-experienced technicians based in Cape Town and Gauteng, backed by a team of experienced designers. Marefa manufactures around 95% of its bottling equipment components in-house and assembles its machines under one roof at its production plant in Cape Town.
The company began investigating and evaluating ERP tools when its existing systems became inadequate to support its complex business requirements and growth. “Our previous systems were extremely labour-intensive and inaccurate, with a large amount of duplicate capturing taking place. We were not able to plan the buying of parts and materials, resulting in cash flow and delivery constraints. Added to this, we had no record of our production efficiencies on the factory floor.


“As a result, we were growing inefficient. Our systems could not support the business effectively and would by no means be able to support our growth,” says Greeff.


Producing over 40 000 components as well as assembling an array of project specific machines, Marefa needed a system that could go beyond accounting, and typical ERP functionality, to provide capabilities for managing all the company’s processes, from project planning and production, through to reports and financials, within a single architecture.


“A key business need was the ability to do planning on an individual component level as well as overall project planning, and because we sell complete machines and individual components, we need to be able to accurately cost each of the components we sell. It is the combination of manufacturing planning as well as project management that presents a challenge with traditional ERP packages.


“We also wanted a system that could offer daily sales analysis reports and give better insight into costing on the fly. SAP Business One was the only ERP package that offered a fully integrated project management solution. “The solution allows us to use a single system for all our processes. None of the other packages we looked at are as customisable or as user-friendly as SAP Business One. With the functionality and features provided by SAP Business One Project Industry solution, we have been able to address all our requirements with one solution,” says Greeff.


The solution was implemented by Bluekey Software Solutions, which specialises in the implementation, development and support of SAP Business One for SMEs in Africa. Marefa was clear about its expectations, which greatly assisted Bluekey in designing the system.


The SAP Business One Project Industry solution gives Marefa tools for project management, time and materials allocation, stock reservations for purchased items, automated invoicing and more. And by implementing the usability pack Marefa has the capability to self-implement data validations, layouts and additional user-defined fields.


Andre Andendorff from Bluekey says: “The customisability, scalability and versatility of SAP Business One as a business management tool rather than pure ERP really came into play with this implementation. By using the extensions we were able to build Marefa’s unique processes into the system to ensure that it could fully deliver on the business’s expectations.”


During the implementation, seven temporary data capturers were employed to assist with loading and cleansing Marefa’s 40 000 inventory master items as well as the bill of material’s attached to most of those items.


“Bluekey’s consultants were very knowledgeable about SAP Business One as well as best business practices. Working closely with our own people, they ensured that they had a deep understanding of our business, our processes and what we wanted to achieve.


“The high level of detail that went into the Blueprinting phase as well as the exceptional collaboration between the Bluekey team and the Marefa team were both contributing factors towards the success of the project,” says Greeff.


Marefa began realising the benefits of using the system almost immediately. Among the main benefits are:

  • The ability to track and plan service work. With more and more machines in the field, the ability to coordinate Marefa’s service unit is a crucial aspect of the business management system
  • The ability to track sales opportunities and follow up on a larger number of sales quotations in the field
  • Real time access to accurate information to aid decision making and reporting
  • The elimination of administrative and accounting backlogs. The company is now able to invoice accurately and on time without employing additional staff
  • More accurate costing on components and machines
  • A central point for capturing labour times and monitoring the progress of projects to allow management to pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficiencies within work centres
  • Greater control over data quality through validation, segregation of duties, authorisations & alerts. This has dramatically reduced mistakes and duplications


Greeff concludes: “Marefa is a fresh, dynamic, positive, focused, service-driven company. With SAP Business One at play across our organisation, we are able to grow with vision and passion, while improving our bottom line.”


About Bluekey

 Bluekey specialises in making SME’s best-run businesses through the sales, implementation, and support of SAP Business One throughout Africa. Bluekey is headquartered in Johannesburg and has branches in Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Bluekey is Africa’s largest SAP Business One provider, a SAP-certified Gold Partner and SAP Africa Partner of the year for SAP Business One 7 years in a row (2005 – 2011), and SAP EMEA Pinnacle Award winner. READ MORE…

For more information about Bluekey Software Solutions contact:

Craig Johnston | 021 685 7000 |


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