Sumitomo Electric Lightwave knows exactly what it takes to accelerate Internet connections to the speed of light. Always on the cutting edge, the company is always looking for ways to streamline and automate its internal processes wherever possible.
When management noticed that their warehouse supervisor had to manually record all material movement transactions each day, they sought a way to simplify the process. Even though the company staffed the warehouse eight hours a day, material moved 24 hours a day. The result was that the warehouse manager had to catch up with a backlog of movement transactions—time better spent looking for ways to help achieve overall business objectives.
Management also discovered that when manual data entry missed material movements to shop floor locations, the in-house enterprise resource planning (ERP) system reported a shortfall of materials within the manufacturing facility. These deficits then required an investigation and subsequent move transactions to correct them—consuming even more time and human resources. In fact, the size of the manufacturing facility and the number of possible locations for material often cost the company one to two hours of valuable time to investigate each instance of negative quantity.
What's more, sale forecasts showed a significant uptick in sales, and with a host of new products coming on line, the company needed to keep a close watch on the flow of raw materials. Manufacturing already required 120 unique raw materials, and this was about to expand by 40 percent to 150 with the new product rollout. Each raw material in the supply chain required tracking a specific volume of stock at different inventory locations, and each with unique movements and usage to track. If the company ran out of even one raw material, a serious negative impact on the schedule and the bottom line would result.
Sumitomo Electric Lightwave needed a solution—fast. The company recognized that with limited resources and fluctuating business conditions, it needed to ramp up the new product line and meet sales forecasts more efficiently than in prior years, and with the same number of personnel. In addition, long-term sales forecasts suggested a steady growth in business. Whatever solution they selected required enough reliability, flexibility, and scalability to move more material through the warehouse, each year, while meeting the strictest of budgets.