Editor's note: This is the seventh post in our "Customer Voice" series where we capture and bring to you the direct voice of our customers to demonstrate their areas of PLM ROI. View the other posts below:
Scaling up efficiency
With a wide variety of products distributed across all fifty states, one major food manufacturer realized the value of having an efficient system for managing everything.
“The term ‘efficiency’ gets thrown around a lot,” says a Senior Manager of Process Quality in charge of product lifecycle management. “For us, efficiency means things are going to get easier.”
Circumstances surrounding the decision weren’t particularly unique—a desire for strong food safety, faster speed to market, waste reduction, and team productivity. What stood out was how previous attempts at product lifecycle management had created a kind of chaos that the company was trying to avoid.
“We built a lot of little solutions,” says the Senior Manager. “There were lots of sources for inputs, formulas, and recipes. Everything had to be able to pass through that.”
With existing infrastructure clogging up the works, the company decided to implement Devex PLM to manage projects from a centralized solution. In doing so, they were able to reap the benefits of a modern environment.
Diagnosing the situation
Work had started on a product development process back in 2011, but the needs of the business kept requiring new solutions be tacked on.
“The goal was always to have an entire system for product development, but it had to be parted out,” says the Senior Manager. “It was a long process, and whenever regulations or customer requirements became more sophisticated, we would just add a new system in response.”
With so many different solutions in place, it was difficult to maintain consistency across the entire lifecycle. In addition to disparate systems not fully communicating, everything was manually entered, sometimes hand-written, which added to workloads and made it easy for mistakes to find their way into the workflow.
“You want to go from Point A to Point B, which sounds simple, but there’re still rules you have to follow along the way,” notes the Senior Manager. “All of this was driving inefficiencies we wanted to get away from.”
Keeping it simple
The introduction of Devex PLM made a dramatic improvement on the way product was managed.
“We were able to eliminate most of the hand-copy stuff,” says the Senior Manager. “One point of data entry connects to the statistical process controls in the plant. We no longer have to enter data multiple times; it will just be there.”
This upgrade immediately reduced most of the erroneous duplicate data, with the remainder being detectable by automation. Data was able to flow from one stage to the next, uninterrupted.
Changing systems also gave the company an opportunity to review workflow processes, including supplier and vendor management.
“We ended up developing templates and training to do things more efficiently,” notes the Senior Manager. “Vendors like it; it helps set expectations upfront.”
During implementation, some legacy systems had to stick around. Fortunately, Devex was able to match existing data requirements.
Improvements across the board
Being more efficient came without jeopardizing brand.
“We can’t ever compromise food safety, we can’t ever compromise quality,” says the Senior Manager. “We still verify all the things that matter. It takes time, it’s still work, but there are some things we can run in parallel instead of serial.”
Devex’s array of features cleaned up the workflow and opened up new opportunities.
“The old documents, some were hand-written, made it hard to have a baseline,” says the Senior Manager. “We could never really tell where we were at with a project. Now we have performance differentials on how much time we’re spending in different stages.”
And data can be found quickly.
“We’re able to pull information through basic searches,” observes the Senior Manager. “Custom queries and the ability to self-serve data in sophisticated ways gives us a lot of power. Devex can look at an ingredient in certain range of use and formulate different versions quickly.”
Having gone through the implementation, the company is now seeing the competitive advantage a single system offers. Using a modern tool like Devex made it easier for team members at all levels to stay productive.
“This is cool stuff,” notes the Senior Manager. “It’s really easy to pull information together for people. Our statistical process control system linked to Devex data directly. Now we can click on a product and Devex tells us all the product details, ingredients, as well as actual formula specifications. Lots of levels of flexibility and capabilities here.”