At a Glance:
- Inteva Products launched the Plex Manufacturing Cloud in 14 global locations — providing 1,200 users with the industry’s leading manufacturing ERP system — in less than 12 months.
- Plex provides efficiencies, production visibility, and quality management across an extensive global network of 300-plus suppliers.
- Off-premises system management trims Inteva’s monthly operating costs by one-third and enables IT staff to focus on more strategic work.
The competitive pressures in the automotive industry have never been as intense as they are right now. Automotive manufacturers are working vigorously to meet customer needs, squeeze out costs, achieve the highest possible quality, and do all of this with fewer and fewer resources. The pain of “doing more with less” is never more acute than when new suppliers are formed from the divested divisions of others. They must immediately begin meeting ambitious productivity and profitability expectations while simultaneously integrating diverse operations — often within extremely short time frames.
About Inteva Products
When Inteva Products, LLC was launched as an independent company, one of its first challenges was figuring out how to structure its information systems and data management.
Formerly a division of Delphi Corp., Inteva is a global tier-one automotive supplier with 14 manufacturing locations and two joint ventures covering three continents, six countries and four U.S. states. The company faced a complete overhaul of its IT environment which was made up of many different systems — including an ERP system provided by SAP that was operated from the Delphi offices. To complicate matters, the Transition Service Agreement that had been negotiated when Inteva was spun off from Delphi gave the new company just 12 months to migrate its entire infrastructure and application environment away from the former parent. And the company also needed to reduce overall IT costs dramatically — from 2 percent of revenue to less than 1 percent.
Enter Plex Cloud ERP
After an intensive global search, Inteva selected Plex Cloud ERP as its new ERP solution. The company replaced all of its systems with this one, integrated solution that today provides access to consistent, accurate, real-time business information, “from the shop floor to the top floor,” for all employees around the globe. Plex also enabled Inteva to launch a quality management system that is helping the company to achieve continuous improvement by emphasizing defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste throughout the supply chain.
The company has a consolidated view of the world through which all 1,200 of its system users around the globe can access the same information, produce the same reports, and make critical business and operational decisions more quickly. All data is integrated, and the team can view critical information through dashboards in real time.
Plex met Inteva’s tight time frame for implementation by migrating all sites from SAP to Plex in less than 12 months. First to launch were the company’s European Headquarters and Technical Center in Wuppertal, Germany, and its Matamoros Operations Plant 2 in Matamoros, Mexico. This was followed by launches at its two manufacturing facilities in Alabama three months later. The remaining launches were completed three months after that at all of Inteva’s remaining locations in Mexico, Germany, Hungary, and the United States.
“Unlike most ERP launches I’ve seen, our migration to Plex was completed smoothly and quickly,” said Dennis Hodges, Inteva chief information officer. “The speed of this launch was especially remarkable given the complexity of integrating data from many different locations.”
So, from start to finish, the implementation took approximately one year. Inteva is now utilizing all core Plex Cloud ERP functions including production, financials, purchasing, and supply chain management.
Visibility and Quality
The Inteva supply network includes about 300 companies across the globe. Because of the size and global reach of this supply chain, Plex’s Supplier Quality function was critical in helping Inteva achieve success.
For example, today Plex notifies suppliers of Inteva plant-specific requirements and provides them with the latest versions of the company’s standards, policies and procedures. The system also enables Inteva to communicate the details behind any non-conformances, and to document the associated sorting, scrap, freight and downtime costs. Finally, the Plex Supplier Quality function includes a supplier scorecard feature that Inteva uses to grade suppliers based on the number of complaints they’ve received, the quantities of products rejected, major production disruptions, repeat non-conformances, and controlled shipping statuses.
In tandem with improved supply-chain communications, Plex has also brought Inteva extensive visibility into its suppliers’ operations. This, in turn, allows the company to pinpoint and isolate problems and minimize their impact on overall product cost and quality. When a problem is identified anywhere within the Inteva supply chain, the supplier and an Inteva representative receive an automatic notification that action is required. Inteva has predetermined who should be notified for different non-conformance issues. A “problem case” is identified and automatically created, and supplier responses to problem cases and associated cost recoveries can be reviewed and approved or rejected.
A variety of problem case and cost recovery reports can be created including, for example, reports that track cost recovery dollars by “accepted,” “open” and “disputed,” and by the status of Inteva’s review such as “purchasing review,” “issue debit memo,” and “closed.” Summaries of problem cases can be tailored by Inteva issuing location, supplier, defect code, and other variables. Plex also automatically tracks and maintains a detailed log of all data-update activities associated with problem cases and cost recoveries.
More Efficient Operations
Plex Cloud ERP has enabled Inteva to make improvements in virtually every area of its operations.
For example, Plex’s MES functionality more realistically manages inventories; the interface provides data in real time so the company can manage inventories more tightly. Inteva’s purchase order system has been streamlined, and processes simplified, with a new electronic workflow. All production control and logistics (PC&L) functionality has improved. The tool-tracking process is now automated, and the Engineering Department can now rely on Plex’s engineering change controls and program management functionality.
The company is particularly pleased with Plex’s financial applications. The applications allow management to view consolidated financials at any time and make accurate, real-time allocations across the company.
Plex also enables the company to pull balance sheets and income statements at the plant level — a long-awaited function through which management can view many plant-specific metrics such as gross margin. This granular view of the operation benefits all system users and helps guide quicker, more knowledgeable decision-making.
So what about that initial goal of reducing IT expenses?
“Inteva has exceeded our cost-savings goal,” said Hodges. “We have saved significant maintenance and resource costs and trimmed one-third off our monthly IT budget.
“The key is how Plex is supported,” said Hodges. “It is managed off-premises, so we don’t have to worry about the day-to-day challenges of keeping the system up and running.
“Plex has brought us more flexibility in staffing and allowed us to avoid the sort of two-tier IT group required by SAP — where most of the team was dedicated to managing the infrastructure and only a small percentage were involved in business development.
“In contrast, about 80 percent of our IT team members today are business analysts. They are able to focus on strategic support of our business units. This has improved the overall alignment between the IT department and the rest of the business.”
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