In the manufacturing industry, things can change at the drop of a hat, making it imperative for operations to be up to par. However, if a company in the manufacturing industry is relying on a SAP environment for the success of its internal operations, there lies the possibility of having to execute tasks manually. This not only takes up valuable time, but also has the potential to negatively impact an existing budget.
This was exactly the case for Toray Plastics (America), Inc. They were running their internal operations on a SAP ECC environment and then upgraded to a different version. Their deployment didn’t enable real-time updates to SAP and required employees to enter data manually and perform paperwork. So how was Toray able to transform these manual workflows and accomplish legacy modernization?
In this blog, we’ll dive into Toray’s challenges with custom code for inventory and warehouse management, and how Pillir’s solution gave Toray Plastics the ability to build applications on EdgeReady Cloud with absolutely no operational overhead required of its employees, optimizing their productivity and flexibility in the long run.
Toray At A Glance : Distributed Manufacturing
Toray Plastics (America), Inc. founded in 1985, operates three state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in the eastern United States. The company is a subsidiary of Toray Industries Inc., headquartered in Japan and the world leader in synthetic fibers and textiles, carbon fibers, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and high-performance films. Toray Plastics (America)’s products are used by a variety of converters and manufacturers to make a wide range of finished goods for consumer and industrial applications. With its legacy of environmental, social, and corporate governance (the company launched its sustainability initiative in 2004), Toray is aligned with its parent company’s mission to contribute to society through the creation of new value with innovative ideas, technologies, and products. The leadership at Toray values all employees, encourages personal excellence and company-wide collaboration, and prioritizes safety. Corporate ethics and legal compliance are managerial priorities.
Manual data entry impacting safety, productivity and accuracy in inventory management
Toray struggled with a few roadblocks that were disrupting the customer delivery process in terms of punctuality and budget. For this reason, they wanted to modernize the essential parts of its manufacturing and logistics operations. As a SAP customer, Toray initially ran its warehouse and inventory internal operations on a legacy SAP environment (4.7c) and then upgraded to ECC6.
Nonetheless, this upgrade did not allow real-time updates to SAP and required employees to enter data manually and rely on paper processes. The legacy system in conjunction with manual paperwork halted the possibility of real-time business decisions being made. Not only did this contribute to security issues, but also increased the lack of visibility into the internal processes.
Possibly the most concerning element of the manual data entry process was the safety issue it posed for employees. For example, forklift drivers who needed to access additional information on a computer in the shipping office were having to exit the forklift and navigate through a busy plant floor while other forklifts were operating. Additionally, other plant workers were running into what Toray deems “near misses”. This refers to when an employee only barely misses getting hurt, such as when there’s oil on the floor and a person almost slips on it. Because employee safety is a priority at Toray, this kind of environment that forklift operators and plant workers were experiencing was not acceptable.
Some other aspects of the internal operations that needed to be streamlined, included:
- Looking up sales orders and inventory movement
- Pinpointing accurate delivery locations within the warehouse and other plants
- Navigating the logistics of moving material off the belt to its proper destination
In conclusion, Toray was facing a legacy system, a lack of real-time integration and onsite infrastructure, manual processes at each warehouse, and a limited budget. So how were they able to successfully modernize their manual processes, digitize warehouse operations and create a safer environment for their forklift drivers?
Paul McDevitt Director of Materials, TPA, Inc.
"We used to have major impacts to daily output because of the lack of digitization around key processes in inventory and materials management. We use to have our forklift drivers manually enter finished products in SAP after they came off the belt in a terminal, as well as take time to go to a terminal to confirm delivery details and key information about material and inventory. Now, our Forklift drivers scan barcodes and do sales order inquiry and inventory lookup instantly on an iPad, managing finished goods pallets as they come off the belt and ensuring material movement internally to the right plant as well as to the right delivery door, truck, and location – all without leaving their seat. This improved the safety of our workers out of the path of other forklifts and automated machinery. We also have digitized and streamlined door management and loading/unloading activities – tracking all of this in our SAP system in real time instead of intermittently when someone had a chance to get to the terminal. This has helped us improve productivity in the warehouse significantly, as well as real time visibility for our core business stakeholders in HQ.”
Rapid Development Platform - custom mobile app for warehouse and inventory management
To solve for Toray’s pain points, Pillir created applications (hosted on EdgeReady Cloud), which were customized specifically for Toray. The applications provide a user-centric, customized experience that tightly integrates to SAP and is based on roles and authorizations. Along with the applications streamlining and digitizing the once manual processes, the applications were deployed quickly and with little-to-no programming. Multiple SAP modules were quickly standardized into single applications. Because these new applications are hosted on EdgeReady Cloud, Toray does not have to worry about operational overhead or infrastructure, as Cloud applications are fully scalable, resilient and secure.
Pillir also provided a solution for Toray’s safety issues with their forklift drivers and plant workers. Now, instead of having to navigate a potentially dangerous plant floor in order to access a computer in the shipping office, employees simply scan barcodes and order inquiry and look up inventory instantly on an iPad, increasing productivity in inventory movement. Additionally, they can better keep track of finished goods coming off the belt and ensure material movement into the plant, delivery door, and truck. This not only ensures the safety of the employees, but completely digitizes their once very manual process and updates their core system of record (SAP) in real time.
To summarize, below is a quick overview of all the benefits Pillir provides for Toray:
Streamlined and Efficient Processes: With applications hosted on EdgeReady Cloud, Toray’s internal processes are now streamlined and much more efficient and secure, while providing safety for its employees in the process. Additionally, achievement of real-time updates with SAP provided visibility and greatly improved reporting capabilities.
Quick Deployment and Little-To-No Programming: Being able to deploy with no infrastructure investments or operational overhead completely eliminated operational costs, saving Toray time and money. Rapid reduction of maintenance time also enabled Toray to be ready for future enhancements.
Ensuring Best Practices: Toray is now able to take advantage of EdgeReady Cloud platform for other warehouse use cases with the help of pre-built adapters to Microsoft Dynamix and existing SAP integration.
Interested in learning more about Pillir’s rapid application development platform? Modernize your SAP systems with EdgeReady Cloud. Build unlimited apps for free today - Contact our team to learn more.