Wolf Minerals chooses Vanilla Solutions for IFS support

Excellent response times, a huge knowledge base and a flexible way of working are just some of the reasons why one of the UK’s leading metal producers chose Vanilla Solutions for IFS support.

Wolf Minerals, based near Plymouth in Devon, have been working with the company for two years on an ‘on demand’ basis.

“The flexible nature of our working with Vanilla is important to us,” said Mike Wayda, from Wolf Minerals.

“We rely on Vanilla for help and support if and when we need it,” he added.

Wolf Minerals is an ASX and AIM listed specialty metals producer based at Drakelands, a major global tungsten mine ten kilometres from Plymouth.

The Drakelands Mine has one of the Western world’s largest tungsten and tin resources, and provides a secure supply of tungsten for a global customer base.

The tungsten produced by Wolf is critical to a range of industrial, mining and agricultural applications and key uses are in cemented carbides, steel alloys, metal products, lighting, drill bits and jewellery.

“Vanilla support us for all things IFS, specifically procurement, financials, HR and maintenance,” explained Mike.

“The support we have received from Vanilla has always been excellent. We always get quality, quick responses and solutions. Whatever problem we’ve faced, they get back to you rapidly, via a phone call, Skype or email.

“They’ve even been here on site to help us, and I know they’re going to be visiting here again soon – sometimes you need to do things face to face, in-person, and that’s not a problem with Vanilla.”

Mike had particular praise for Vanilla Solution’s Head of Support Claire Valentine: “We talk to a few people at Vanilla who’ve always been knowledgeable, helpful and really good to deal with, but Claire has been a huge help to me personally and the company,” he said.

“Vanilla know IFS inside out and the speed at which they work is impressive, but they’re also determined and tenacious and obviously communicate internally very well; they always know what someone else from the company has told us,” Mike added.

Another reason why Wolf Minerals continue to use Vanilla Solutions is that the support is UK-based: “That is a definite advantage – there are no issues about time zones, language or culture, it’s just easier,” Mike explained.

Various support options are available. As well as the on-demand service that Wolf uses, Vanilla Solutions offers a subscription-based option with a monthly fee.

“The customer can choose what works best for them. We aren’t precious and if a customer needs things to work a certain way, we’re always happy to accommodate them. Our excellent support analysts can also call on the expertise of our in-house consulting and technical teams if and when required,” explained Vanilla Solutions Director Andy Bell.

“Our services are set up to give customers a single point of contact for all functional and technical support issues with IFS Applications and the IFS Extended Server. Our Core Support service offers the essentials that you need to keep your business going for a low monthly fee. In addition, we have a range of Extended Support options,” he explained.

To talk to Vanilla Solutions about your options, call 0845 388 3936 or email info@vanillasolutions.com

The company was founded in 2009 by directors Jason Belcher and Andy Bell, both of whom had long careers working in IT, and with IFS Applications in particular.

Vanilla Solutions seeks to empower its customers, bringing knowledge, clarity and certainty to complex ERP and business change projects. Renowned for its jargon-free, no-nonsense approach, Vanilla has been successful in winning business in both the blue-chip and SME sectors.

Vanilla have the solution for SMD

Vanilla is playing a key role in the expansion of the world’ s largest independent manufacturer of specialist subsea vehicles.

Tyneside-based Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) provide remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and specialist trenching systems to sectors such as oil, gas, offshore wind, defence and telecoms.

Headquartered in the UK, SMD design and manufacture from their facilities in Wallsend and North Shields, with a sales and support office in Singapore and more recently a new design and manufacturing facility near Shanghai, China.

When SMD needed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to help run the new plant, they turned to Vanilla Solutions, ERP and IFS specialists, who have a Technology and Support Centre (TaSC) based in Hoults Yard, Newcastle.

Paolo Zaino, IFS Support Manager at SMD, said: “Vanilla have been helping us to set up an IFS ERP system which is the software the Shanghai plant will use to run their operations. This has involved setting up a new database for the China office and migrating data from our UK database to our new one.

“SMD Shanghai will initially employ around 40 employees but we expect this to grow as the China market matures.

“We’ve been working with Vanilla on the SMD Shanghai project since the beginning of 2017, so approximately a year, but have worked with Vanilla in a number of different areas for three or four years,” said Paolo.

“They were chosen because they could provide the range of skills that SMD were looking for in a consultancy to complete this task. The SMD Shanghai Project required robust project management, good technical expertise and also a comprehensive functional knowledge in order to successfully complete the project. Vanilla Solutions were enthusiastic about being involved from the start,” he explained.

“Vanilla Solutions work closely with their customers as a team, providing the understanding and flexibility that is required on a complex project of this nature,” he added.

Claire Valentine, Support Manager at Vanilla Solution’s TaSC, said: “Three of us have been working with SMD on the project and it’s getting busier now we’re nearing the go live date.

“SMD needed a comprehensive ERP solution to support its business processes and simplify its manufacturing processes and we’ve moved the Shanghai operation on to IFS. What we’re implementing will be an over-reaching solution incorporating asset and project management, business analytics, finance and HR as well as contract, document and work order management.

“We also have about 30 million records to migrate from one database to another, and then we need to detach the new database from the source, so there will be no communications between the two.

“We’ve been working with SMD for a while and their expansion has been impressive,” Claire added.

SMD’s new 7200m² facility will bring additional resources and focus to the company’s East Asian expansion plans.

Vanilla Solutions has offices in Newcastle and Grimsby and is one of the leading providers of IFS applications-related services in Europe and provides consultancy, support and products to the wider ERP market.

The Newcastle office is also the hub for Vanilla’s R&D activities and such has been the demand for the TaSC’s services, Vanilla has doubled its workforce from three to six – and is looking to recruit yet more to its team.

Clients include BAE Systems, Skanska and Largo Foods, and the company employs 27 people across the UK and their two offices.

Vanilla helps Lynemouth Power ahead

WHEN one of the region’s power stations was in need of IT support they turned to one of the UK’s leading enterprise software specialists – Vanilla Solutions.

Lynemouth Power Ltd, based on the Northumberland coast, is currently undergoing a conversion project, from coal to biomass generation. The conversion is due to be completed and the new power station commissioned this year.

The project, which includes a new facility at Port of Tyne, has had IT implications for the company which runs Lynemouth Power Station.

The company’s two-man IT team had been depleted when Applications Analyst Chris Wharton left to join Vanilla Solutions.

Lynemouth Power had looked around for the right level of IT support and several companies produced quotes for the work – but they chose Vanilla Solutions.

Vanilla had provided Lynemouth with urgent IT support and the level of service provided and the depth of knowledge, particularly around Lynemouth’s IFS applications, were factors in Lynemouth’s decision.

Chris had been at the power company for nearly five years and was jointly responsible for running its IT operations. He maintained and configured the company’s IFS application which provided Lynemouth with its maintenance scheduling, finance, procurement and HR functionalities and also helped with the implementation of Microsoft Sharepoint 2013.

“We’d previously worked with Vanilla, and obviously we knew Chris, so we spoke to Vanilla Solutions about contracting the team for a set number of hours and an agreement was reached,” said Dean Huddleston, IT Infrastructure Analyst at Lynemouth Power.

Because of the conversion project, it is a particularly busy time for Lynemouth, now owned by Czech-based energy company Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH).

“Our business now also involves a new site at Port of Tyne so it is vital we have the IT support we need and Vanilla Solutions were working with us again within six weeks of Chris leaving. The IFS application is important to the smooth running of the company, so we have to get it right and knowing the Vanilla team is helping and supporting us is reassuring. They’ve also been working on Sharepoint with us too.

“The Vanilla team has been great to work with – obviously very knowledgeable with a deep understanding of IFS and ERP solutions, but also very flexible, responsive and friendly. It’s been a huge help to us that they knew the business and the project,” added Dean.


About Lynemouth Power Ltd:

Lynemouth Power Ltd runs Lynemouth Power Station, a 420 Megawatt power station situated on the Northumberland coast.  The station has generated electricity from coal since 1972. The plant was originally built, owned and operated by Alcan with the purpose of providing safe and secure energy for the production of aluminium at the adjacent Lynemouth Smelter.

The station is currently undergoing conversion from coal burn generation to biomass. On completion, the new power station will be able to generate up to 420 megawatts of low carbon electricity.  The company employs 146 people.


About Us:

Established in 2009 Vanilla Solutions is a no-nonsense, customer friendly systems integrator and consulting company offering a broad range of training, support, and technical services to users of modern ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) and BI (Business Intelligence) applications. They are specialists in IFS Applications and also partners and resellers of the Qlik product suite, Nicelabel label management and automation products and Novacura’s innovative ‘Flow’ mobility and process execution platform.

EPS Water chooses Novacura Flow to revolutionise processes, empower employees and leverage mobile working.

EPS wanted a process improvement tool that was easy to use, reliable and mobile-friendly. Vanilla Solutions helped them get started with Novacura Flow and they never looked back.

EPS Water is an innovative provider of products and services to the water, wastewater and clean technology sectors. The firm serves municipal, industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic clients, and currently exports in more than 25 countries worldwide.

The challenge
EPS use IFS Applications to manage their project-driven business. They’d previously invested in a process improvement tool for IFS, but were finding it too inflexible. So they went back to the market to look for a technology platform that could deliver in three key areas: process improvement, mobility and reliability.
Improving processes was seen as an urgent priority. The EPS team needed to drastically reduce the number of manual processes and also get the flexibility to develop their own processes, without being restricted to pre-canned vendor solutions.
The second goal was mobility. EPS wanted to develop mobile applications and then roll them out across handheld devices quickly and cheaply.
Finally, EPS’ current system for managing work orders had proven unreliable and lacked critical offline capabilities. So they needed a solution that would also let them work offline.

The solution
Having seen Novacura Flow at an IFS user group event, EPS contacted Vanilla Solutions, Novacura’s UK Partner and reseller, to discuss their requirements. Vanilla provided EPS with a fully functioning trial edition so they could evaluate it against their own requirements.
EPS quickly realised that Novacura Flow did everything they needed. Before long, the internal team were creating powerful applications around the way the business wanted to work. The one-flow architecture, regardless of user interface, meant applications were easily published to both desktop and mobile users. Using a mobile device, Flow seamlessly integrated with device cameras, maps, scanners or GPS coordinates to create mobile workflows. It also supported offline working whenever needed.

The result
Using Flow has unlocked endless possibilities for EPS. Having already automated many business processes, they’re now implementing 25 touchscreen interfaces, giving their less tech-fluent team members a simple, intuitive way to interact with their ERP system. “Giving our people an easy-to-use interface with the latest technology is essential,” says Gareth Reynolds, IT Systems Manager. “They are our business and we can’t evolve without them.”

Although EPS are completely independent in their use of Flow, the relationship with Vanilla continues, with both sides sharing information and best practices for using the software. “EPS care about giving their people the right tools for the job,” says Jason Belcher of Vanilla. “Their ideas and expectations are realistic, which is great, but we’ve been able to show them how they can go a few steps further than they thought.”

“Working with Vanilla Solutions has been a pleasure,” says Gareth. “They stand by their values of simplicity, quality and customer focus. With Flow, they’ve helped us create something quite remarkable, with a really simple user interface.”
Now Gareth and his team are in the process of rolling Flow out across as many operations as possible, to take their systems and processes to the next level.

About EPS
EPS was founded in rural Ireland in 1968 to support local agriculture with a focus on water abstraction and pumping, and later diversified to become an important partner to the Irish water sector. Today, it is a specialist infrastructure support services company that provides design-and-build solutions and mission-critical mechanical products. The firm operates across the Republic of Ireland, UK, Middle East and West Africa.

Andy Bell – write to me here

Protein logo

Client in Profile: Steve Bagwell, Protexin

Name: Steve Bagwell

Title: IT Manager

Company: Probiotics International (Protexin)

VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?

SB: I’d heard about Vanilla on a number of occasions and as I was looking for some help I accessed the Vanilla website and viewed some case studies and news articles. I liked what other customers had to say so I made the call, and I’m so glad I did!

VS: We’re glad you did too! How long have we been working together and how did our relationship develop?

SB: Vanilla first came on site with us early in 2016 and the relationship began with Vanilla assisting with the lead-up to go-live. Vanilla showed us a deep understanding of IFS early on and you continually help us to get the best possible solutions out of it.

VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?

SB: Vanilla is an agile business with 20+ full-time consultants and you’re really responsive. Your team of consultants are easy people to work with, they fit straight in and they’re all accessible. We’ve worked with a number of the team and developed a really strong working relationships with them where they are happy for us to email directly and always respond as soon as they can. The Vanilla business model aligned really well with our own, sometimes we find that bigger businesses aren’t very flexible or respond too slowly.

VS: What have been some of the key IFS Projects we’ve worked on with you?

 SB: Our web orders was one of the initial projects. Protexin sells via Tesco and Amazon online and we wanted to connect those orders up to our IFS system. We required someone who really knew their stuff and Vanilla supplied the right people for the job. The project required Vanilla’s team to configure the Connectivity part of IFS in order to get an order through, process it and receive using a standard IFS connection.   This was really a key project for us. You’ve also assisted with our data migration which was really quite complex, and you’ve helped us to figure out the set up for Crystal reports. We’ve had a large amount of help from your development team who hold a fantastic skillset. You’re currently working on a new area of development with regards to our Lab information management system and you offer us a support package to compliment our vendor support, where we can ask you questions and you’ll do whatever we require, mostly remotely, but on-site if needed.

VS: I understand that you’re also benefitting from some of our products and services to compliment your IFS solution.

SB: Yes, we have recently installed NovaCura Flow and it’s changed our entire approach – it’s truly limitless. Flow now runs all of our production and some of our warehousing, with a view to it running all of our warehousing in the near future. Your team got our team set up with Flow instantly, and the knowledge share empowered our business. We’re also working closely with your BI department and we’ve had a large amount QlikView development. Your team have helped us to visualise our data much more effectively.

 VS: How would you describe Vanilla?

 SB: Vanilla have an incisive sense of business needs. They are cost effective, diligent, industry experts. All of the team are accommodating and flexible, the consulting team spend time preparing in order to understand the business and become attuned to it. They don’t raise unrealistic expectations and offer very effective program management.

VS: Thanks for your time Steve.

SB: Always a pleasure.

About Protexin:

Protexin is dedicated to producing innovative research-based products of the highest quality for animals and humans. Their belief is that nature is an ideal source of effective healthcare solutions and that applied research and understanding can harness these solutions to the benefit of both humans and animals. The natural healthcare and probiotic supplements they manufacture are extensively researched for safety and efficacy. They work closely with leading universities, hospitals and research centres around the world on a range of ongoing research programmes. Protexin manufacture in their own purpose built, state-of-the-art facility in Somerset, UK. This allows them to be completely in control of their product quality. All products are subject to the highest, accredited standards of production and quality control and they hold the following quality certifications; cGMP (MHRA), ISO 9001:2008, BETA NOPS, each of which involves regular audits to ensure standards are maintained.

About Us:

Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. With a turnover in excess of £2.5million, Vanilla Solutions continues to offer fundamental, independent services to users of IFS Applications. Whether an organisation is embarking on a new implementation, a business transformation program, or simply need some ongoing support, Vanilla have the extensive industry experience needed to extract the best value from investment in IFS Applications. Positioning themselves as part of the project team they provide clients with expert advice and the resources they require to make their chosen business systems work for them. Their consultants and technical staff are all employed in-house and sourced from a wide range of industries to bring a hugely diverse set of skills. This is evident by their broad customer base, ranging from large Aerospace & Defence clients to small manufacturing and service companies.  Vanilla Solutions also provide complementary solutions that enhance the functionality of their clients IFS investments and other software solutions they might use including Novacura Flow and Qlik.

For more information, contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions



Client in Profile: Phil Barratt, Mayerton


Name: Phil Barratt

Title: Business Systems Manager

Company: Mayerton


VS: How did you find out about Vanilla Solutions?

PB: I met Vanilla at an IFS User Group conference in 2010. I was looking for some help with database problems and Vanilla were working closely with a specialist and referred us across. Vanilla weren’t IFS Partners at that stage but later became partners and then more recently left the Partnership Network

VS: That’s right. We thought long and hard about leaving the partnership but it was the right decision for us and our customers.  I think clients value our independence and benefit from the savings we make through not being part of the partner network

PB: That’s interesting. Yes, in my own personal experience I wouldn’t work with anyone else other than Vanilla, partners or not.  I was tired of the usual set up of being over-sold consultants with an array of expertise just to work on a menial task for whole days at the top rate, when in reality it really needed just a few hours. When we originally went live we spent too much on consultancy. It got out of hand.

VS: So what’s the main appeal of working with Vanilla?

PB: Knowledge, approach and cost.  My budget is tight and using Vanilla is wonderful as they work well within budget and if a job only requires a few hours they won’t quote me any more than that. The team are very knowledgeable and able to offer suggested solutions over the phone that I’ve never thought about. I love the approach. They don’t fiddle with the system. They use the tools that already exist, particularly the tools that lurk around at the dusty end of the tool box that nobody ever gets shown how to use.

VS: So do you think Vanillas main asset is their extensive knowledge of the IFS system?

PB: Not just that. They are honest about project estimates and costs. The enhancements we’ve had done by Vanilla were 200% cheaper than prices elsewhere. Vanilla work with what we have in terms of tools to save our cost. It’s a much better way of doing things as they don’t tread on IFS support. You’re just using what you’ve bought.

VS: What enhancements were you most impressed with?

PB: One of the best enhancements, excuse the geekiness now, is around purchase order receipt.  When you’re in IFS and you’ve purchased something and, for instance, you’ve got in the region of 100 purchase order lines and you’ve gotten to the stage where you want to move that into stock, you have to go to each line and move to application manually. We have some orders with 300 purchase order lines. It can take up to 2 hours. I thought, “Why can’t we have just one button that does it?” It’s obvious isn’t it if you think about it? If you’ve got a purchase order with multiple lines, then you want to receive the whole purchase order. So I called Vanilla and their technical consultant came onto site. It took just 2 days and he developed a simple application to do this. Now we’re saving so much time and, ultimately, money.

VS: Do you think Vanilla are quick to solve problems?

PB: If I wanted a bit of code, not to do the whole thing, your guys can very quickly give me that and you only bill for what you do. The key point for me is that I can buy 1 hours’ worth of help. It’s a very simple and straightforward process. To me, that’s the beauty of it. The whole team are seasoned, industry experts and that’s a great value. Vanilla pick only the people who are good enough to be under their banner.

VS: How would you describe Vanilla?

PB: I would describe Vanilla as ‘Phone-a-friend’ – I mean that genuinely. Every consultant I’ve ever come across have been responsive and they have consultants in all areas specialising in both technical and functional.  The entire company’s responsiveness is out of the park compared to anyone else.

VS: How long have you being working with Vanilla Solutions?

PB: I think I was one of their first customers, so 6 years. Vanilla are very prepared to make the little people feel valued and important. I pre-buy hours now as I did tend to call on their team as-and-when. It’s just easier to know that if I need them I’ve already dealt with the paperwork.

VS: Well, our theory is what comes around goes around so we treat all clients with the utmost respect and professionalism.

PB: Well, that’s very apparent. One thing I’ve noticed you do is to help put a face to a name. I like that you include pictures on your website and in newsletters so that we know who we’re speaking to. Your new marketing department has made quite the impact on Vanilla, especially your Christmas campaign!

VS: Any other comments?

PB: On a final point, I must say the Christmas gift this year from Vanilla was fantastic. It was perfect! If you’re going to give a Christmas gift, it needs to be good and you hit the nail on the head. I’ve still got your Christmas card on my desk. I’ve scanned it and I will be using it next time I do a PowerPoint; next time I do anything on lean. It absolutely sums up what Vanilla do, it’s brilliant.

VS: That’s very kind of you, thanks for your time Phil.

About Mayerton

Mayerton Refractories is a leading manufacturer of high quality castable and refractories brick providing refractory engineering solutions and service. Headquartered in Europe, Mayerton is active in over 50 countries, adding strategic value to the largest industrial Groups worldwide. Established in 1991, Mayerton has over 20 years’ experience supplying refractory solutions to the iron, non-ferrous and steel industries.

About Us:

Established in 2009, Vanilla Solutions help clients to get the best possible return on their investment through consulting, training, support and products. Recently announcing a £2.4million turnover, Vanilla Solutions continues to offer fundamental, independent services to users of IFS Applications. Whether an organisation is embarking on a new implementation, a business transformation program, or simply need some ongoing support, Vanilla have the extensive industry experience needed to extract the best value from investment in IFS Applications. Positioning themselves as part of the project team they provide clients with expert advice and the resources they require to make their chosen business systems work for them. Their consultants and technical staff are all employed in-house and sourced from a wide range of industries to bring a hugely diverse set of skills. This is evident by their broad customer base, ranging from large Aerospace & Defence clients to small manufacturing and service companies.  Vanilla Solutions also provide complementary solutions that enhance the functionality of their clients IFS investments and other software solutions they might use including NovaCura Flow and QlikView.

For more information, contact:

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

Vanilla Solutions


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