B2B Connex Kanban Automation at Northern Digital Inc.
Established over 25 years ago, Northern Digital Inc. (NDI) pride themselves for being an international leader in providing accurate, trusted measurement solutions for industry, medical and life sciences applications. The company’s international headquarters are in Ontario, Canada and they have manufacturing facilities in Canada, China and Germany.
Over the years, NDI has focused on establishing excellent relationships with their strategic suppliers. Most of the parts used in manufacturing are purchased from these suppliers using blanket purchase orders. In one year they generate approximately 7,000 individual releases against these blanket PO’s, each of which requires from 10 to 15 minutes of manual effort to process. The effort involved in managing this volume of releases has prompted their purchasing group to investigate ways to automate the release process.
The B2B Connex Supply Chain Collaboration portal was chosen to meet this business need. Connecting to their Intuitive ERP purchasing module, this web based portal automates the communication of purchase orders and kanban releases with NDI’s suppliers. The main focus of the portal is the kanban order screen. This screen allows a shop floor employee to scan a bar code for a required part at one of several scanning stations. This scanned part number is used to automatically create a kanban release against the appropriate blanket purchase order in their purchasing system. The kanban release is then sent directly to their supplier using the Supply Chain portal. This system has eliminated almost all of the manual tasks required to create their kanban releases. Their suppliers receive notification of the order only minutes after the item’s bar code has been scanned. The only time a purchasing agent needs to be involved is if a supplier requests a change to the kanban order quantity or delivery date.
The Supply Chain portal is also used for both blanket and standard purchase order distribution. Suppliers are notified about new or changed purchase orders and are given the option of either accepting them as is or requesting changes to data such as the lead time, order quantity and the delivery date using the online portal.
NDI has already seen an increase in efficiency by using the B2BConnex portal. Only a small portion of the 7,000 releases per year need any involvement from purchasing staff. This amounts to time savings of approximately 2 hours per day per buyer. The purchasing staff now have the time they need to improve their supplier relationships and to perform strategic tasks such as vendor evaluation.