Skip to content

K8 Manufacturing is vital for Variable Message Signs

Discrete Manufacturing


Variable Message Signs


Customer: Variable Message Signs

Site link:

Setting the scene

Variable Message Signs (VMS) is the UK market leader for transport signage systems. Serving road, rail, airports and seaport sectors, the Hill & Smith-owned company has considerable technical capabilities as an innovator and developer. K8 Manufacturing is an integral part of the business; processing transactions, controlling costs and managing profitability.

In 2014, Hill & Smith acquired Variable Message Signs. A strategic move that, combined with its Techspan Systems operation, formed a world-class provider, with an extensive, multi-sector product range. VMS and Techspan Systems now operate together as VMS and have one of the UK’s largest installed bases of programmable sign systems. Customers comprise Highways England and Transport Scotland, joint venture organisations and large corporates including Balfour Beatty and Carillion. The merged company processes around 500 to 1,000 orders annually; with a lead time of up to three months. The pipeline is typically 80-200 orders at any one time, which can comprise up to 2,000 signs and equipment provision.

Working with Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS)

Variable Message Signs Ltd were already using K8 Manufacturing and in 2015, the Techspan Systems operation transferred across to K8 Manufacturing, forming part of the project to integrate the two companies. The stock control, purchasing, sales order and job ledger applications are central to managing the business on a day-to-day basis. Louise Martin, Finance Director, said: “With its extensive flexibility, the system allows us to operate the business our way and not according to fixed processes and disciplines. We are in the driving seat with K8 Manufacturing and can easily amend production schedules and customer requirements as necessary.”

More than just a software developer, KCS is fully committed to its partnership role, working closely with customers as needs change and evolve. Referring to the Techspan-VMS integration, Louise referred to a demanding schedule. “Even though we set a tight timetable for the work, we had the benefit of combining two similar trading companies. Full support from KCS’s knowledgeable training team, with their excellent understanding of our business, contributed to the project’s success.”

Job Ledger is key

For VMS, the K8 Manufacturing Job Ledger module is key to managing orders and maintaining accurate records. “The Job Ledger is the system hub and used very effectively across the business. Collating order detail; from sales order input, through purchase orders, weekly time sheet records and parts issued, we have an accurate picture of what’s going on. Work-in-progress adjustments are easily managed, the invoice position is straightforward to determine and hence the values that can be released into the P&L.” said Louise.

Gains and benefits

  • Integrated solution
  • Comprehensive functionality
  • Job Ledger – a vital tool
  • Flexible process disciplines
  • Effective business control
  • Real-time information
  • Platform for future development
  • Close working relationship
  • Excellent training provision
  • Professional help-desk

Read the full story here.


With its extensive flexibility, the system allows us to operate the business our way and not according to fixed processes and disciplines. We are in the driving seat with K8 Manufacturing.

- Louise Martin, Finance Director


Our Sustainability Policy

Together we can make a difference!

Read more.