With QuickBase, everything is out in the open, so it's clear who is doing what, how much work is being done, and when it will be completed.
Rich Buckley, VP, Global Operations
Producing high volumes of complex engineered orders is a key challenge for the manufacturing industry. Managing these orders through customer service, project management, engineering, procurement, planning, and manufacturing requires a high degree of synchronization across teams and technologies. Metso recently found a new solution to this old problem by building a suite of apps on QuickBase, collectively called the Metso Global Operations Data Center. The apps have streamlined multiple processes, enabling Metso to save an estimated $1 million annually, boost efficiencies, reduce delays, and standardize its order management practices.
For Metso's Flow Control division, accuracy is everything. As a leading provider of flow control solutions to the energy and other industries, the division is responsible for engineering and manufacturing valves and valve automation that provide a safer work place, improve the environment, and maximize its customers' production efficiency.
Controlling its own engineering and manufacturing processes was very resource intensive for Metso, because information was stored across its ERP, order management and planning, engineering, and manufacturing processes. Metso found a solution in a suite of apps built on QuickBase that streamlined the order management process and delivered greater clarity and efficiency than before.
"We're always looking for new solutions to old problems, and QuickBase has been a very effective tool for us," says Rich Buckley, Vice President, Global Operations Engineering and Order Management at Metso.
Like many companies that handle complex orders, Metso struggled to coordinate its order management processes with its engineering, purchasing, and planning processes. Order managers had to dig deep into the data for order history and status of open issues. It was time consuming to proactively identify issues and ensure that orders would be delivered on time. Email was the primary tool for assigning action items to other teams, meaning tasks could be dropped or forgotten.
"Because of the volume of orders and information in each order, it was very difficult for our order managers to look at their backlog and see exactly where the problems were," says Buckley.
The company uses an ERP solution to store all order-related data, but coordinating that data with other information proved challenging. To solve the problem, Buckley searched for an online database that could serve as both a real-time repository for order-related information and a workflow tool to keep all action items and activities moving forward.
After assessing a variety of database tools, Buckley chose QuickBase because it offered the right amount of flexibility and transparency. QuickBase gives all team members easy access to critical information.
"With QuickBase, everything is out in the open, so it's clear who is doing what, how much work is being done, and when it will be completed," says Buckley.
While orders are still collected and stored in the ERP system, order-related data is exported regularly and entered into a QuickBase app for order management. Information from Metso's promising logic tool is also loaded into QuickBase so order managers have quick insights into whether their orders will be delivered on schedule.
Inside the app, order managers can review each order (by searching for an order number or by customer name) and ensure that all the necessary engineering, purchasing, and manufacturing activities will be completed in time to match. If the order manager spots an issue, he or she can assign activities within the app to resolve it.
Custom reports enable order managers, their managers, and others to quickly drill down into orders to find any information they need to keep the process moving forward.
Metso's QuickBase suite, Metso Global Operations Data Center, is now operational at its Helsinki, Shanghai, and Shrewsbury, MA manufacturing centers. So far, Buckley says, the company has realized significant benefits, including:
The combination of Quickbase suites covering order management, engineering, and inventory have actual cost savings in excess of $1 million USD annually. Metsos development of these tools has given them greater control over the local and global execution of complex engineered orders.
Faster detection of potential issues
Order managers can now access all order-related data quickly to identify possible trouble spots and assign action items to resolve those issues.
"If we get an order that takes 40 weeks to manufacture, we need to pay close attention to the first two or three weeks," says Buckley. "If we don't get our materials driving in the first month or so, we're going to have problems."
Custom reports for high-priority orders
Order managers can "flag" high-priority orders for special tracking, utilizing the flexible reporting capabilities built into QuickBase.
The order management workflow in QuickBase has enabled Metso to standardize the order management process. This makes it easier to train employees and share workload.
Greater process efficiency and improved management tools have led to cost savings for Metso. For example, streamlining the engineering change notice (ECN) process from a manual one (in which engineers physically collected signatures from various departments) to an automated one (in which digital signatures are collected within the QuickBase workflow) has saved six engineering man months per year, according to Buckley.
Since implementing its QuickBase apps, Metso quickly realized other opportunities to solve challenges with QuickBase. The improvement in factory to factory communications, inventory control, and engineering efficiency continue to be developed. Quick access to integrated manufacturing and engineering data is now a reality.