If you’re a sheet metal fabricator, the chances are you’ve (probably) heard of Amada.

Formed in Japan in 1946 by Isamu Amada, the company still holds strong Japanese values. Amada manufactures metal cutting, forming, shearing and punching machines as well as software application, tooling and original spare parts for businesses right across the world.

Today, the Amada Group consists of over 90 companies and 8,000 employees. It has operated across Europe for over 40 years, establishing European headquarters in 2013 to manage its 10 branches, eight production sites and 1,500 employees across 13 countries.

Kidderminster, Worcestershire is the headquarters for Amada’s UK operation.

And, at the very centre of Amada UK’s operation is Infor’s System21 on IBM i, which handles, amongst other business functions, Amada’s accounts, sales and purchase ledgers, sales order processing, inventory management and stock control. A number of external, web-based third party applications also access data held in System21.

“We’ve used the AS400 (IBM i) for a long time, since I started in 1996” commented Tim Symonds, Head of Information Technology, “it’s been reliable, it has served us well”.

However when Amada lost one of their main IBM i developers within their in-house IT team, they decided it would be more time and cost efficient to outsource aspects of their IBM i application development and support to an external specialist provider.

“The main issue that we had that we wanted to resolve was the resource problem. We needed someone that we could rely on, that we could contact anytime for support” confirmed Tim.

Although Amada’s primary concern was ensuring that their chosen provider was familiar with the IBM i, they also wanted to find someone that could also develop applications on IBM i using PHP.

That provider was Proximity.

Choosing the right IBM i development partner

Kieran Williams, First Line Support Technician, explains what Amada were looking for from an IBM i amd PHP technical perspective:

“We were looking for a team that could work well with the knowledge of the IBM i system, as well as PHP and (PHP Framework) Laravel”.

Tim explains that Proximity “had plenty of support staff that had the necessary experience that we were looking for PHP development. And we liked the type of companies that they were working with. They weren’t too small, but they weren’t too big”.

Amada very much sees Proximity as an extension of their IT team with the confidence in the IBM i services delivered by Proximity enabling Amada to allocate resources to other projects.

“We’re confident that when we ask Proximity to do things for us, they get done. We don’t have to follow up on things and it just allows us to focus on other areas of the business” commented Tim.

“The relationship works really well. It’s a really good fit for Armada.

“Proximity are really approachable. They understand the business needs and they’ve exceeded our expectations,” he concludes.