A century-old glass manufacturer with customers in 49 countries needed to convert their manual, paper-based shipping and receiving process to a mobile electronic tracking system that seamlessly integrated with SAP. The clear choice? SPR Consulting.
Owens-Illinois, or O-I, is the world’s leading glass container manufacturer with more than a century of experience crafting pure, sustainable glass packaging for many of the world’s best-known food and beverage brands as well as tableware and stemware for household use. With customers around the world and more than 10,000 product offerings, shipping and receiving is a central aspect of their business. But the paper-based lading system being used on their shipping/receiving docks was keeping O-I firmly stuck in the 20th century.
In the past, each glass shipment was accompanied by a paper bill of lading that listed what inventory the third-party carrier took. These bills of lading had to be cross-checked and verified at the target destination. It’s easy to picture the receiving workers on the dock with clipboards in hand, flipping through multiple sheets to find the correct order and then counting the boxes included in the shipment. Now imagine the information on the manifest being entered into SAP by hand – whether the pages are pristine and easy to read … or mangled, torn or soaked by inclement weather. In 1903 when the company started, the system was a model of efficiency. Today, with 4.5 million tons of glass being shipping by land, air and sea; it’s a recipe for human error, inefficiency, wasted time and worker frustration.
The Microsoft account team in the Heartland District recommended that O-I work with SPR Consulting because of SPR’s deep expertise integrating Microsoft technologies with SAP, and our ability to understand the complexity of their system. One of O-I’s biggest concerns was the cost of technology; when they had considered going this route in the past using SAP exclusively, they felt the technology was cost-prohibitive. A hybrid approach using an application written in .Net, running on a Surface Pro, was far less expensive. It also provided a certain “wow” factor as O-I moved from its old paper process to a modern touch UI.
Beyond just the cost savings, SPR Consulting recommended that O-I use the Microsoft platform over SAP for several additional reasons, the main one being the flexibility to use mobile touch screen devices. Mobile devices would be more convenient to use on the shipping dock and less expensive than other technology. Using the Surface Pro, the third-party drivers who pulled up to a receiving dock would simply enter an order number into the touch-screen Shipping Kiosk, allowing them to pick up their load. All of the information would integrate automatically with the SAP system on the back end, relieving inventory immediately.
Today, Owens-Illinois uses the SPR-built Microsoft system throughout their organization, in 75 plants across 21 countries. The results have been dramatic:
With the deployment of the Shipment Kiosk, the Microsoft team in Heartland was able to secure a significant win for Microsoft Surface. Surface proved to be a better choice than iPad because of the kickstand and the larger screen. Plus, Surface – being a Windows device – was much simpler to build an application for that could integrate directly with SAP.