NetSuite ERP combined with arena solutions BOM control PLM gives in-flight telecom innovator end-to-end product controls.

Ottawa, Canada-based TrueNorth Avionics outfits private, VIP business jets with airborne telecommunications technologies. With full telecommunications capabilities available, passengers can turn otherwise nonproductive time in the air into useful working time, or — in the midst of a hectic and grueling travel schedule — grab a few moments to stay in touch with family and loved ones at home. Because TrueNorth delivers the ability to make critical phone calls, send and receive faxes, connect to the Internet and send email — regardless of travel schedule and location — the company’s products are in high demand, and its client base continues to grow rapidly.

Business Challenges

Nimble and relatively new in its market, TrueNorth faces intense competitive pressure from a variety of competitors. The company’s strategy to out-maneuver and out-innovate the competition requires real-time business processes to design, develop, manufacture and ship best-of-breed products. Adopting NetSuite ERP in 2011 gave the company a scalable business platform and the tools necessary to manage the day-to-day operational needs of a fast-growing global concern.

Yet six years of rapid growth — including the establishment of international offices — created challenges for TrueNorth. The company wanted to ensure that its rapid expansion would not compromise or hinder product development processes, and that it would continue to deliver new, innovative and high-quality solutions to its markets. Efficiency and rapid time to market were ongoing concerns. Increased risk can accompany high growth, however, and TrueNorth wanted to be certain that its commitment to excellence would continue as its reach grew.

The NetSuite-Arena Solution

With market growth on track, TrueNorth’s executive team recognized the need to make sure that precise, up-to-date product revision data and document approvals were reflected in NetSuite. Product managers wanted to assure tight controls of bills of materials (BOMs) and associated BOM items, and to easily collaborate on products across multiple sites. The company’s standards require that product revisions, approvals, releases into production, and component changes all be tightly controlled and documented.

These requirements led TrueNorth to NetSuite partner Arena Solutions and its cloud-based BOMControl PLM application. TrueNorth wanted a solution that would help control product changes, coordinate its supply chain, and enable the company to continue scaling production to meet demand, with global scope and cloud integration.


“BOMControl was a significant contributor to the successful completion of our AS9100 audit,” says Chris Bartlett, director of product management at TrueNorth Avionics. “It enabled us to demonstrate crucial controls over our processes along with seamless integration to our NetSuite ERP system. We demonstrated our ability to track changes down to the user and date. We demonstrated our ability to maintain tight control over ECO changes to a BOM and see new revisions of documents, assembly drawings or anything associated with our manufacturing and engineering that we contain in BOMControl. All of these capabilities leading to the certification provided positive validation of our decision to implement BOMControl PLM.”

The cloud-based integrated ERP-PLM solution from NetSuite and Arena offers TrueNorth important advantages, including:

  • Ensuring real-time accuracy without increased IT costs.
  • The ability to quickly and easily review multiple bills of materials without having to open each individual BOM.
  • Engineering change orders (ECOs) move quickly through review processes with less delay, fewer opportunities for error, and greater efficiency.
  • Freeing TrueNorth’s chief technology officer to focus on product innovation instead of administrative tasks.
  • Assurance that all operational areas have accurate, up-to-date visibility when product changes are made in Arena BOMControl PLM.

Business Value

As a result of the NetSuite and BOMControl integration, TrueNorth completed a critical audit and earned its first-ever AS9100 certification. AS9100 certification demonstrates the company’s ability to achieve the highest level of quality in manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Importantly, AS9100 certification is required to sell to OEMs in TrueNorth’s target markets, an important expansion of its sales opportunities. Combined, the NetSuite and Arena solution supports AS9100 certification in several areas, including configuration management, design process, purchasing, manufacturing and product validation.

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