How Metso Reduced Costs, Boosted Communication and Improved Transparency
Managing complex engineered orders across the globe requires a high degree of synchronization across teams and technologies. It also presents many challenges like: how can employees track workloads and problems across facilities? How easily can facilities communicate with one another? How can disparate datasets be converted and accessible across the organization when silos exist?
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. The applications have not only streamlined processes, and provided insights across their systems, but have helped Metso save more than $1 million annually while boosting efficiencies, saving time, enhancing visibility and transparency, and standardizing its order management practices.
- Order management processes not standardized which made employee training and sharing workloads difficult
- Difficulty tracking complex orders through the planning, engineering, procurement, and manufacturing processes
- Employees used to have to dig through emails to track down orders or related actions
- At-risk critical order paths and inventory data stored in ERP and other systems were difficult to track and identify
- During the coronavirus outbreak office-based staff suddenly needed to work from home and lacked the equipment to efficiently keep up with daily tasks
- A suite of applications built on Quickbase for managing orders, engineering, and inventory
- Data from ERP, inventory, and data warehouses updated regularly to Quickbase applications
- Easy creation, distribution, and management of action items to mitigate potential delays or issues
- Custom reporting for tracking high-priority orders, inventory, and critical path issues
- Automated time-critical Engineering Change Notices rather than manually
- 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
- Annual cost savings of $1 million from improvements to order management, engineering, and inventory processes
- Improved training, increased effectiveness, and ability to share workload through order management process standardization
- Enhanced visibility and customized applications to quickly view order history and activities
- Automated tracking and notifications of Engineering Change Notices saves about 6 engineering man months per year
- 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
Customized Solutions to Old School Problems
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 workplace, improve the environment, and maximize its customers' production efficiency.
Controlling its own engineering and manufacturing processes was very resource intensive for Metso as information was stored across its ERP, order management and planning, engineering, and manufacturing processes. To solve these problems Metso built a suite of Quickbase applications focused on streamlining the order management process. The custom applications offered flexibility and transparency by providing all team members easy access to critical information.
"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.
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 Buckley.
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.
How it Works
While orders are still collected and stored in the ERP system, order-related data is exported regularly and entered into a Quickbase application 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 workflow, order managers can review each order 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 application to resolve it.
"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," said Buckley.
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.
Reaping the Benefits
Metso's Quickbase suite, Metso Global Operations Data Center, is now operational at its Helsinki, Shanghai, and Shrewsbury, MA manufacturing centers. So far, Buckley said, 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 annually. Metso’s 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, Metso automated their Engineering Change Notice process, so engineers were no longer physically collecting signatures from various departments. By eliminating manual processes, Metso has saved six engineering man months per year, according to Buckley.
Modern Solutions to Unexpected Problems
In addition to increasing efficiency and streamlining their processes when it’s business as usual, the company has also taken steps to improve their workflows directly impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
For example for Metso's Internal Sales & Global Process Systems division, accurate supply chain management was crucial. 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 Process Systems Manager & Global Quickbase Admin at Metso.
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 including time savings, seamless supply chain management, and realignment of employee focus to better serve customers.
A Model for the Future
Since implementing Quickbase, Metso quickly realized other opportunities to solve challenges. 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.