With five years’ experience of cloud manufacturing ERP under its belt, Accuride, a leading global supplier of commercial vehicle wheels and wheel end components, has had ample time to prove the value of the cloud for consolidating data and processes.
Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, the company analyzes a broad range of data types collected from across its nine global operating locations —from plant operations data, to sales data, to communications with suppliers. According to Paul Wright, VP information technology and CIO, these analytics provide a key to informed data-driven decision-making at Accuride.
When Accuride first adopted its manufacturing cloud system back in 2011, its aim was to consolidate ERP software solutions across a worldwide network of manufacturing operations, which had grown primarily through acquisition. Standardizing on a single cloud platform enabled the company to eliminate a mish-mash of disjointed ERP solutions and web applications, while tackling the proliferation of different versions of data stored throughout the company.
At the same time, the cloud system became a foundation for the company’s LEAN manufacturing initiative and has automated many previously manual processes, enabling more proactive maintenance and better collaboration and efficiency.
What really stands out, says Wright, is the impact of data consolidation and analytics in each of three core elements of the company’s business – its operations, sales and supply chain.
The cloud system automates collection and analysis of real-time operational data for display in a dashboard of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data. This replaces manual tracking and duplication of data entry, which Wright says allows problem identification and troubleshooting to happen on a much quicker cycle. Automated downtime notifications also enable the “ants to come running” faster, while more details on what the problems are allows for faster problem resolution.
These dynamics augmented the lean manufacturing transformation of the manufacturing team —instead of reactive, they became proactive and data-driven. Rather than spending valuable time gathering and consolidating data, engineering talent can focus on centralized data testing and analysis, which speeds the pace of innovation and the introduction of new products and features.
Accuride salespeople use the aggregated sales dashboard on tablets and other mobile devices to quickly and easily display information such as sales performance by product line, by geography and even by customer. The salesperson now enters the dealership armed with both historical and real-time account information— including sales figures, current orders and shipping status, and customer data.
As a result, salespeople can quickly identify if distributors are meeting sales commitments and contractual obligations, as well as identify areas for potential growth.
By employing the cloud system not only across the organization but also linking out to Accuride supply chain partners, Wright reports that suppliers from all over the world can access it whenever they want to determine Accuride requirements in real time.
By the same token, Accuride employees can gather information about potential suppliers including product costs, freight costs, and delivery schedules to make informed decisions when selecting suppliers and partners. This enables the company to manage inventory levels, improve efficiencies and get the best value for the parts and components they need.
Using this data in combination with lean manufacturing techniques has helped Accuride reduce lead times by 30-40%, both improving customer satisfaction and freeing up millions of dollars in working capital.
The combined effect of being able to access and act on such powerful data aggregation and analysis is that Accuride can focus more attention on serving its customers better, says Wright:
Plex provides an integrated end-to-end platform that enables us to easily connect with customers and suppliers. With the wealth of data that is collected and analyzed, we have streamlined our operations— improving efficiency and cutting problem-resolution times— enabling us to provide better service and higher quality, more innovative products to our customers.