The customer in this case study is an internationally recognised manufacturer of high-performance materials. Their products are used across a broad range of industries and distributed around the world.
Simplifying 20-year-old Processes
Prior to working with HULFT, the organisation’s manufacturing team was spending a significant amount of time preparing important monthly reports. The reports are used as a reference point for cost accounting and include information relating to the amount of raw material input, production, and work in progress at key stages of the manufacturing process across its full range of materials.
Compiled in Excel, the reports use data collected from the company’s production management system, which resided in a mainframe. The process was time-consuming, not only because of the complexity of data, but also because staff were required to print the data out on paper before manually entering it into the worksheets. In addition to the amount of time this took, the process was also susceptible to human error.
When the organisation first contacted HULFT it had been manufacturing its market-leading materials for well over 20 years. During this time, the benchmarks used for process improvements and monthly reports often required modifications. As a result, the monthly report preparation task had become ever-more intricate.
Developing an Automated Monthly Report Generation System
When assessing possible improvements to the monthly reporting process, the company considered upgrading its production management system, adding functionality to enable the generation of monthly reports. However, development costs were expected to be a substantial burden, so the company abandoned the plan and began looking for an alternative solution.
The Assistant Manager of the Production System Division explained “My predecessor looked into the structure of the monthly report in terms of what numbers were used, and how the staff entered them into the spreadsheet and processed them to prepare the report. Based on the information gathered, he considered building a monthly report system. However, building the system in a mainframe would be a considerable amount of work because it required full-scale ‘rip and replace’ (replacement) of the system.”
After further research, the organisation began to look at adopting a new approach, this time using Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tools with Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). This strategy would enable the organisation to reduce workloads without the need to modify the data structure in the mainframe. Following a thorough evaluation process which involved looking at a number of recognized tools, the company decided to adopt HULFT Integrate. The head of the Production System Division explained “With legacy systems, the limitation of scalability and the difficulty of freely extracting and processing stored data prevented us from delivering what our users demanded. However, with HULFT Integrate, we were able to meet these demands in a short amount of time and at a low cost.”
Increased Automation, Improved Accuracy, Reduced Time
By using HULFT Integrate, the organisation was able to quickly extract and process stored data that had previously proved difficult to access due to the age of its legacy systems. Prior to working with HULFT, the monthly report required 439 fields to be populated across 12 worksheets. HULFT Integrate enabled the organisation to instantly extract necessary data from the production management system and automatically add it to worksheets for each manufacturing process.
Today, the process is not entirely automated, however there is no longer a need to print out transaction records from the production management system or to manually post the data to Excel worksheets, consequently the risk of human error has been significantly reduced.
Previously, it took about eight hours to complete the monthly reporting process, using HULFT Integrate, this has been reduced to just an hour and a half. As a result of these time savings, the team can focus on tasks such as data analysis, which is the primary purpose of creating monthly reports.