Boosting efficiency

SEW-EURODRIVE uses a unique process to increase efficiencies and productivity. You’ve heard of SAP system, let SEW introduce you to SLAP systems.

At SEW-EURODRIVE, precision, efficiency and productivity are key. Working with the head office in Germany, Fred Pizzicara, National Procurement Manager at SEW-EURODRIVE Australia, has implemented a new logistics process that aims to boost operational efficiency.

The system is called SLAP, which stands for standardisation of logistics and assembly processes. “The benefits we are getting here in Australia since the implementation of SLAP has been astonishing,” Fred says.

SLAP is an information technology systems applications product (SAP) integrated system and is used across various processes within the SEW facilities.

The system was developed in Europe in 2008 and a project team was developed to roll the product out across the entire business. By 2012, the system was implemented into 13 European countries. In 2014, the system began to roll out internationally and Fred spent a significant time in Europe getting ready to bring the system across to Australia.

By 2014, the system was fully functioning in the Melbourne office and Fred says efficiencies were quickly realised across the entire SEW operation. “Parts used to come in and we had to manually handle them into the system. Now products arrive into SEW stores and are scanned which it automatically informs us of where the product should be placed. This enables us to gain a lot of increased productivity with the waiting and dispatching,” Fred says.

This has resulted in impressive efficiency gains and improvements. “As an example, putting away a whole container used to take one to two weeks, now it can be done in one to two days,” Fred says. The process of loading the goods from one container into the system is no longer a manual process. With the load of the container already detailed on the barcode, there is not a need to manually record each item.

“Before SLAP we had a warehousing team consisting of seven members. After implementing SLAP we found that we could alter this number and we re-deployed two team members of the warehousing team into other areas of the organisation,” Fred says.

“In the packing area, we also discovered that we could gain similar efficiencies by moving some team members into other areas of the business and the packing department could still operate with having one or two team members in a packing line to organise most of our products,” Fred says.

With SLAP, the process becomes more automated as it uses barcode scanners throughout the journey of the product. SEW now uses mobile scanners for booking of goods receipts on every box. Another advantage is that there is an automatised printout of goods receipt slip. If applicable, an identification tag is attached to each box with local storage locations, which speeds up the process for storing parts, Fred says. In a factory with over 15,000 different parts and products, this automated process can deliver significant efficiency gains.

The automated system also leads to increased transparency. “We can now see stock levels in some SEW across the world, this is really helpful with our efficiency processes as we’re so far away from Germany,” Fred says. The Melbourne SEW office supplies many other SEW sites in the region, not just domestically but also overseas. Having accurate and detailed stock reports helps SEW Melbourne to supply parts to these other facilities.

For Fred, the process has improved efficiencies within all departments. “The system is so clear and easy to use that it stops the team from having to query quantities, they can just get on with the work now.”

By using a standard system across the whole business anyone can log in and see where the stock is located as well as access accurate quantities. This ultimately enables SEW to provide a faster service for the customer. If a customer needs a part that isn’t stocked in Melbourne, SEW employees can quickly look on the system to see where the closest available part is located as well as request the part all with one system.

The information is also always accessible instead of at certain processing times across the supply chain. This leads to a continuous workflow. Fred says there is a significant reduction in administration tasks and manually inputting information, also leading to less error and faster process times.

“Even for special parts that we don’t usually stock we have transparency as soon as they come in, again increasing efficiency”, he says.

As the system is rolled out across SEW sites it allows the entire business to share and understand processes and information, there is no need to contact each location as all information can be seen in one central piece of software for all involved.

The system ultimately allows SEW-EURODRIVE to more effectively manage and control its stock and allows for better planning across regions. Having increased touch points across the supply and process chain leads to increased efficiency and transparency, allowing SEW to better service its customer’s needs.