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Fun is Back in The Business with Funky Monkey Bars

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Funky Monkey Bars, putting the fun back in the business for playground manufacturing company.

Clean and simple design, an ingenious modular organisation akin to IKEA and a smart team who know what kids want. Let me introduce you to a fabulous business, Funky Monkey Bars.

As a parent of young children Perth Dad, Shane Roberts was ecstatic when his daughters found a skill that kept them outdoors being active for hours on end and away from the lure of the television and computer. It was back in 2009 when Shane’s young daughters discovered monkey bars and along with it the strength, endurance and resilience that came with concurring a challenge. So Shane made a monkey bar for the backyard and so great was the response from local kids that he created Funky Monkey Bars in 2011 and now designs and sells monkey bars and play equipment direct to backyards across Australia and around the world.

Shane was joined in the 2014 year by Colin Burdle, a UK structural engineer whose knowledge of steel fabrication and construction has taken the Funky Monkey Bar concept further making it more adaptable to the age and skill of the children and introduced new equipment that can be attached to the original monkey bar frame. Funky Monkey Bars is all about bringing back the fun and resilience that comes from an active outdoor play that we remember as kids – sitting atop the monkey bar in the exclusively no adult zone.

 The Problem

In one word. Growth. In any business, growth is what we all want, but it comes with the inherent requirement that our teams, our systems and our capacity grow with it. Often, as the case was for the Funky Monkey Bars team, customers and demand for their product grew faster than their systems and teams. When you receive 10 customer orders a day, you can pick, pack and ship 10 orders a day with the right team and the systems that can handle 10 customer orders a day. Even if you have to manufacture something for that order – when you have 1 in 10, no worries! When this customer demand grows rapidly and you start receiving 10x this amount of orders in a day, your systems and your teams have to grow and change to handle this.

The FMB team were already big fans of Xero and the flexibility and visibility it provided to keep an eye on the business, whilst running the business, whether they were in the warehouse or travelling around the country. Unfortunately, many businesses who love Xero, quickly realise that they can’t handle complex inventory management requirements in Xero and the FMB team embarked on the journey of finding the right add-on to Xero to manage their inventory and manufacturing management requirements.

 The Solution

After spending many hours and late nights doing their own research on which add-ons could work. FMB tried DEAR Inventory, Cin7, Unleashed and Tradegecko – just to name a few – never feeling 100% confident that the solutions they were looking at were the right fit for their business. After reaching out to their accountant for answers, that was when their accountant reached out to WhichAddOn and asked if we could help.

And of course – the questions FMB needed to answer is exactly what we do every day we conducted a thorough scoping session with the FMB team to understand the business needs.

With a large increase in customer demand, obviously came the pressures to manage all the processes required to make and deliver the product as soon as possible to wherever it was purchased from around the country. Increased pressure to ensure that all the inputs were available for the manufacturing process – the parts and the people. Increased pressure to ensure that all the parts for the modular products were available on time, no matter what colour or model the customer picked. Any business with such rapid growth and so many moving parts, needs a system to keep their finger on the pulse of the business physically – managing stock – and financially – understanding the costs throughout the entire process from end to end.

Software solutions like DEAR Inventory, Cin7, Unleashed and Tradegecko, were only going to solve part of the problem for Funky Monkey Bars. Each of these solutions can help you track your purchases, your landed costs, your inventory and even your production. What they can’t do, is manage the cost of the labour component and the various stages of the production process as a product moves around the warehouse and gets worked on by various people.

MRPEasy was the solution that solved both core problems for Funky Monkeys Bars. An established Xero add-on, based out of Estonia in Europe, MRPEasy, in addition to the inventory management functionality of these well-known solutions, also has detailed production planning with Gantt chart capability, workstation management – to track all the different processes around the factory floor – and labour time tracking – to capture the cost to the second of what it takes to create a Funky Monkey Bar. MRPEasy enables the business to have complete visibility into what’s on the shelves, what needs to be picked and packed next and using minimum stock levels, what needs to be made next and which process is most efficient to do this.

With production planning being the major strength of MRPEasy as a system, here are some visuals to help you understand what MRPEasy looks like and how it could help you with production planning in your business, as it did for Funky Monkey Bars.

Production can be planned through production schedule (image4) which shows the calendar of productions planned. All of the bills of materials (or components) of each production process is outlined in the system, as well as routing (production times) to help manage your manufacturing to quite finite detail.

 Final Thoughts

Funky Monkey Bars is a testament to the fact that just because a Xero add-on can solve part of the problem for your business if you aren’t 100% confident that it isn’t the best fit for your business, don’t embark down the road of a half-baked solution. Reach out and ask someone independent that can look at your business needs and help you find the right solution. Someone who knows the different solutions intimately and can help you make an informed decision on which solution is right for you.

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