Reacting quickly in the face of a global pandemic requires a responsive technology that facilitates streamlined communications and efficient time management. It introduces new business complexities such as unexpected asset management, remote employee tracking, and proactive supply chain management.
Metso, a leading process performance provider in the oil and gas, mining and aggregates industry, has found a solution to these challenges by building a suite of Quickbase applications. These solutions focus on work from home transitions, recording of facilities usage, and data administration to support operations. These applications have kept business running under unprecedented working conditions, saved time across the board, and flagged issues before they become a costly problem. They have saved up to 500 hours of work time while easing the work from home transition, maintaining customer satisfaction, and preserving employee safety.
- Many plant-based employees don’t have the option to work from home but still require support from engineering during the Coronavirus crisis
- Office-based staff suddenly needed to work from home and lacked the equipment to efficiently keep up with their daily tasks
- High risk of infection for employees who still needed to be on-site and overwhelming amounts of scheduling to stagger the staff’s physical presence at work
- Increase in order delays or cancellations due to crisis and immediate need to report these unforeseen issues to senior Vice President
- Rapid development of Quickbase applications to adapt an office-based workflow to an off-site system where engineering can continue to support manufacturing without being physically present at the plant
- Speedy distribution and accurate tracking of office equipment such as laptops, keyboard, etc. made devices readily available to employees who needed to work remotely
- Rigorous data control over which team members are in and out of the office, who they encountered, and their return dates to keep records and avoid potential infections
- Seamless order tracking and advanced capabilities to identify delays or cancellations to support supply chain management and upper management
- Time savings of up to 500 hours thanks to the easy visibility of impacted supply chains and the quick investigation of affected orders
- Efficient customer service that is able to track orders for clients and keep them informed of deliveries
- Daily evolution of workflows to enable automated processes that simplify approvals
- Real-time monitoring of cash flow
- Quantifiable and impactful data management that enables prompt reporting and educated planning
Modern Solutions to Unexpected Problems
For Metso’s Internal Sales & Global Process Systems division, accurate supply chain management is crucial during this global pandemic. As a leading provider of flow control solutions to the energy and other industries, the division is responsible for multiple worldwide plants that require a safe workplace, efficient manufacturing processes, and customer satisfaction.
Speedy implementation of custom-made applications was essential for Metso as supply chain efficiency during COVID-19 became more important than ever. To deal with the crisis in a global environment where every supply chain is different and not every supply chain needs to be looked at, the company needed complex, tailor-made applications that could be developed in hours.
“Things are evolving daily, but the great thing about Quickbase is it doesn’t take days to build stuff. The speed that we’re able to implement these new changes and new workflows is very, very important to us,” said Meg Lennon, Internal Sales & Global Quickbase Admin at Metso.
Streamlining Order Management
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. Email was the primary tool used to assign order tasks as well as communicate between departments meaning assignments were easily missed and problems became difficult to track.
“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,” said Rich Buckley, Vice President, Global Operations Engineering and Order Management at Metso Automation.
If there was an issue, employees would often have to walk to other workers’ desks to try to collect signatures, taking time away from their actual jobs. It became time consuming to proactively identify issues and ensure that orders would be delivered on time.
Due to the unforeseen situation, Metso had to quickly come up with a plan to enable employees to work from home. As an office-based, old-school enterprise that was used to printing orders every two hours, moving the vast majority of their teams to an online environment was a massive undertaking.
Not every group was equipped to work from home and the company had to distribute and track equipment such as laptops, keyboards, and more. The potential impact of this increased the monetary value of equipment being managed as well as the number of assets that needed to be disbursed required new tracking systems especially created for the Metso management teams.
“Anyone that could work from home, we wanted to get them out of the office, so that is why we started the application to track that equipment,” said Lennon. “But then I started to branch off and created a few more things that we use the COVID-19 application to track. We stated to track who is going to be in the office and who is going to be out, if someone came into contact with someone who is sick, or when the employees return date was so we wouldn’t forget.”
Enduring the Crisis
The Quickbase applications developed to deal with this unexpected crisis are now being used globally across Metso’s worldwide manufacturing centers. Thanks to their rapid development and implementation Lennon said the company has accomplished significant advantages as they face this global emergency:
Each Metso supply chain is different and, although not every one of them needs to be looked at, the change in customer requirements and stock orders requires critical reporting to capture changes in the company’s backlog. Looking at a supply chain can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on complexity.
With the newly implemented Quickbase applications, the Metso team has real-time access to sales and customer services data amid COVID-19. This allows them to react quickly and adapt their processes to the changing industry environment. It has also led to the roll out of automation within the company’s operations.
Seamless Supply Chain Management
More than 1,000 of Metso’s order lines have been directly affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Most of these impacts were from items purchased overseas. In response to this, the team rolled out a number of Quickbase applications that adapted to the changing conditions and further increased the efficiency of the company’s existing applications.
Realignment of Employee Focus
By identifying the most urgent orders, Metso managers are able to shift employee efforts to satisfy customers and meet company expectations. This also allows for better planning based on the number of impacted orders and expected delays.
A Crisis-Proof Model for the Future
Amidst worldwide change and restructuring, Mesto has developed Quickbase applications to future-proof their business. With time savings, streamlined management, and restructured resources the Metso team has evolved their workflows and reacted quickly to preserve the well-being of their business and their team members.