Skip to content

Variable Message Signs

K8 Manufacturing is vital for Variable Message Signs

Vertical: Distribution

Industry: Discrete Manufacturing

Product: K8

Variable Message Signs

About Variable Message Signs

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.

Setting the scene

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 provisions.

K8 Manufacturing

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.

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.

Louise Martin - Finance Director  at Variable Message Signs

Working with Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS)

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.

Louise Martin - Finance Director  at Variable Message Signs


  • Integrated solution
  • Comprehensive functionality
  • Job Ledger – a vital tool
  • Flexible process disciplines
  • Effective business control
  • Real-time information
  • A platform for future development

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 is used very effectively across the business. Collating order detail; from sales order input, through purchase orders, weekly timesheet records and parts issued, we have an accurate picture of what’s going on,' explained Louise.

'Work-in-progress adjustments,' he said, 'are easily managed, the invoice position is straightforward to determine and hence the values that can be released into the P&L.'


Although systems are critical to business operations, VMS continues to rely on its experienced and long-serving staff to accommodate customer requirements. Projects to install sign systems are often complex and invariably a part of major, long-term engineering work. Delivery dates can be brought forward or slipped back and signs destined for one order may have to be re-assigned.

Our task is to meet all customer expectations and having a system that enables us to do that quickly and efficiently gives us a competitive edge.

Louise Martin - Finance Director  at Variable Message Signs

Moving forward

Louise said that KCS and VMS work well together; for a business that continues to develop which gives VMS both confidence and security in moving forward with their systems. The recent acquisition of Tegrel - a manufacturer and long-time supplier, heralds another integration project and will extend the use of the K8 Manufacturing Works Orders application in particular.

We are supported by a professional and knowledgeable IT partner, with a ‘can do’ attitude - an excellent position for our future.

Louise Martin - Finance Director  at Variable Message Signs


  • Close working relationship
  • Strong business appreciation
  • Knowledgeable consultants
  • Excellent training provision
  • Professional help-desk


Similar posts

Recommended distribution software


Digitise your business with K8, a sophisticated and intuitive cloud-based ERP and business management solution that enables you to manage all aspects of your business, and fully supports your digital strategy.

Learn more about K8
K8 Trader

From finance to trading, K8 Trader is a modern accounting solution for small and medium-sized businesses. It contains a wide range of modules and has all the power and functionality you need to expand into the future.

Learn more about K8 Trader

Want to learn what we can do for your business?