Manufacturing journalist, TR Cutler, profiled Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG), one of the world’s top suppliers of cabs and cab-related parts for the commercial trucking industry, needed to automate its implementation of kanban, a demand driven method of inventory replenishment, because the company’s manual approach to the method was complex, time-consuming, and error-prone. CVG implemented Ultriva electronic kanban, a fully automated solution based on Microsoft server and development technologies. Ultriva, the lean leader, with an electronic kanban focus, is featured in the current issue of AutomationMedia.com.
Within just a few months of deployment at two of its plants, CVG saw turns increased, inventory reduced, and associates at all levels, within CVG and suppliers, better collaborating and communicating toward company objectives of total quality production, lean manufacturing, and elimination of waste.
After evaluating a handful of kanban software products, CVG executives selected Ultriva electronic kanban based on a number of criteria. Perhaps most significantly, the solution was browser-based. “To get the most benefit from kanban, we needed a closed-loop solution that would support a continuous-flow process, a solution that any of our suppliers could access easily,” says Rick Clevenger, Director of IT Systems, CVG Interior Systems Division. “Browser-based Ultriva answered that need perfectly.”
CVG executives also liked that the Ultriva solution was based on Microsoft server and development technologies, largely Microsoft Windows Server System, Internet Information Services, Microsoft SQL Server, and Visual Studio. According to Clevenger, as a turnkey solution, hosted by Ultriva, and with its browser-based user interface, proved relatively easy to implement and adopt. CVG buyers and some suppliers were using the product smoothly after just two days of training. Since initial deployment, for those users and others, the benefits of the solution have become clear: faster turns and reduced inventory thanks to a vastly more automated process and better visibility of inventory; a system that empowers employees at all levels; comprehensive tracking and analysis of supplier performance; and closer involvement of suppliers in the process.
Faster Turns, Reduced Inventory
As Kim Stipes, Materials Manager, explains, the first job for Ultriva Electronic Kanban was to automate the scanning of parts coming in and to provide comprehensive real-time visibility of inventory to everyone involved. “We’re scanning products on the dock that used to be keyed in manually, so we’re getting parts accepted faster and stocking them faster, too.” Stipes also speaks to the benefits of automation in reducing errors: “Using Ultriva means the process is far less prone to errors than the manual approach we used before.” Another aspect of automation is the solution’s seamless integration with the company’s existing ERP system, enabling the company to provide any authorized user with an accurate and comprehensive real-time view of parts and inventory.
Ultriva (www.Ultriva.com) is live at over 120 plants across 10 countries. Companies like Emerson, BE Aerospace, Trane, Ingersoll-Rand, McKesson, AO Smith, FRANKE and AGCO among others are using Ultriva to collaborate with over 4000 suppliers and transacting $1.5 billion of purchased parts every year.