Thielco Steel Solutions Group is a European leader in grating production and corrosion-resistant surface treatments. The family-owned company from Reuver had been working satisfactorily with SAP ECC for years. However, Thielco increasingly encountered the system’s limitations. To enhance the productivity and quality of the organization, further digitalization on the shop floor was necessary. A migration to SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition was the key for Thielco to create a more future-proof organization. Ctac assisted Thielco in successfully implementing SAP S/4HANA in just 13 weeks.

"We are a manufacturing company where speed is essential."

Juliette Heldens, CEO of Thielco Steel Solutions Group

From disparate software to integrated processes

The limitations of SAP ECC became an increasing hurdle for Thielco, says COO Mario Noijen. “SAP ECC is a fine and robust system, but it constrained our growth. In SAP ECC, we had separate software for functions such as human resources, time registration, maintenance of our machinery, and processing incoming and outgoing invoices. These processes couldn’t be integrated, making them very labor-intensive. We wanted to rid ourselves of that enormous workload. That’s why we sought a new ERP system that could address our key automation challenges by integrating them. That was SAP S/4HANA.”

A challenge was ensuring that production didn’t halt during the implementation. “We are a manufacturing company where speed is imperative,” says Juliette Heldens, CEO of Thielco. “If we receive an order today, we start production tomorrow and it’s ready the day after. That’s our strength. We can’t tell customers: we’re in the middle of an ERP migration, come back with your order in a few weeks or months. So, the migration had to be fast and seamless.”

Thanks to Ctac, the perfect fit

In the past, Ctac handled the implementation of SAP ECC at Thielco. Both parties continued to collaborate thereafter. “For Thielco, it was a logical next step to ask Ctac to also implement SAP S/4HANA,” says Heldens. Ctac completed this task in just thirteen weeks. Heldens adds, “At Thielco, production always stops between Christmas and New Year’s. So, we had to use that week for the implementation. In early September, we set ourselves the goal of going live on January 1, 2024. We succeeded, thanks to Ctac. After January 1, we could immediately resume our business.”

Thielco primarily operates in SAP S/4HANA based on best practices. “I am an advocate of using standards,” says Noijen. “You shouldn’t have the illusion that you know everything better yourself. Why reinvent the wheel when you can leverage the knowledge of others?” However, there was an exception. Noijen explains, “We are a manufacturing company that produces customer-specific orders. So, we wanted the system to immediately convert a new sales order into a production order. That best practice didn’t exist yet. Ctac’s developers took on this challenge. Thanks to Ctac’s creativity, there is now a solution for this specific challenge. Together, you find the balance between best practices and their enhancements. That’s how you achieve the perfect fit.”

4 powerful figures/facts of this project

13 weeks

A successful implementation of SAP S/4HANA Cloud Public Edition in just thirteen weeks.


By leveraging best practices in SAP S/4HANA, Thielco clarified 80 percent of the core processes within a few weeks.

15 key users

With 15 key users, Thielco thoroughly reviewed all the pros and cons of existing best practices before the implementation, aiming for optimal efficiency.

Full adoption

Employees immediately saw the added value of SAP S/4HANA. Within a few weeks, full adoption was achieved.

Focus on output instead of administration

To achieve a swift and smooth implementation, Thielco assembled a group of fifteen key users. Noijen explains, “These key users, each with their own expertise, delved into the best practices in SAP S/4HANA. We simulated our processes within it. This allowed the key users to discover how everything worked and the advantages compared to the old system. It was immensely helpful. Through these simulations, we had about 80 percent of our core processes clarified within a few weeks.”

Since the go-live on January 1, 2024, Thielco has been reaping the benefits of SAP S/4HANA. Noijen elaborates, “We immediately discovered savings on inventory levels and optimized margins on sales. And with a new customer request, the system automatically activates all processes in the production chain, from quotation to invoicing. You no longer have to figure it all out yourself. Thanks to the best practices in SAP S/4HANA, you are provided with the best way to organize your process.”

Noijen also notices enthusiasm for SAP S/4HANA on the shop floor. “After the go-live, employees immediately told us they saw benefits compared to SAP ECC. No one logs into SAP ECC anymore. This full adoption is the best evidence of a successful implementation.”

“Thanks to SAP S/4HANA, we are once again able to grow,” says Heldens. “In our industry, it’s quite a challenge to find and retain well-qualified personnel. This automation with SAP S/4HANA enables us to grow without having to expand our support department. Our staff can now focus more on output rather than administrative tasks.”

"Thanks to SAP S/4HANA, we're able to grow again."

Juliette Heldens, CEO of Thielco Steel Solutions Group

On the path to a digital factory

Following the successful implementation of SAP S/4HANA, Noijen is already looking ahead. “I aim to transition towards a fully digital factory. That’s the ultimate goal of our process. We’re already working on installing the first touchscreen TV in the factory, which is also integrated with SAP S/4HANA. Employees can access all relevant information for their work in real-time on this screen, such as schedules and work instructions. The less time our employees spend searching for or chasing information, the more time they can dedicate to their work. We aim for a zero defects process. A digital factory is a prerequisite for this.”

“Our ultimate goal is to capture and process all information digitally,” says Noijen. “So that not only our employees, but also our customers, have complete visibility into the order and production status via SAP S/4HANA. That’s our North Star. Thanks to SAP S/4HANA, we’re already on the right track, as paperwork has significantly decreased. Now that the foundation is laid, we can define follow-up projects with Ctac.”

"Together with Ctac, we set the goal to go live on January 1, 2024. Thanks to our collaboration, we achieved a successful implementation within thirteen weeks." Juliette Heldens, CEO of Thielco Steel Solutions Group

Are you and your organization ready to take the next step towards the future?