This article first appeared in the
Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
Established in a small engineering workshop in Atlanta in the 1930s, Rayloc has grown to become one of the most widely known engineering, cataloguing, sourcing and distribution companies in the world. Today it provides high quality, application-specific products such as brake pads, brake drums and bearings to the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) and its customers, using its wealth of expertise in global sourcing, engineering and distribution. This is supported by over 500 employees operating across Rayloc’s four distribution centres, multiple cross dock locations and its 750-piece private trucking fleet.
“Our remanufacturing roots created a technical core competency that enables us to engineer and source high-quality parts and programmes,” explains the company’s supply chain director Joe Stich. “With an ISO-certified quality system and a culture for continuous improvement, we deliver real competitive advantage to NAPA in each of our product lines.”
But until recently, this competitive advantage was being marred by Rayloc’s disparate technology systems which were preventing it from meeting new expectations in terms of efficiency and visibility of data. “Most of the challenges we faced as a company boiled down to us having multiple systems to manage different parts of the business,” Stich says. “Product design, engineering, quality documentation, procurement, production and finance were all separate and it was proving difficult to keep them in sync.”
With this in mind, the company turned to Bluestar PLM for help. “Bluestar PLM stood out with its seamless integration as an embedded module into Microsoft Dynamics AX,” Stich says. “Additionally, the integration into our 3D modelling software (Solidworks) and other Microsoft products such as the Office suite combined to make a very versatile tool.”
Following the implementation of the Bluestar PLM solution, Rayloc is benefiting from a raft of business benefits. “We have better data integrity, new visual aids for our production and quality departments, improved document retention which will help Rayloc through its ISO re-¬certification in 2017, improved revision history and future revision announcements that assist in product running changes,” Stich explains.
In fact, companywide data accessibility has improved significantly. “In the past, product data was shared manually using multiple different solutions,” Stich says. “Rayloc employees have quickly favoured Bluestar PLM because it acts as a one stop shop. All data – from development through to sales and marketing, customer service and quality assurance – can be found quickly and easily.”
And this is just the start. “Errors resulting from our bill of materials have reduced from 60% to below 10%,” Stich says. “The gap is closing every audit.”
What’s more, production line efficiency has increased by 15%. “This is because equipment setup and other product attributes were not readily available before. Now it is easier to create different products.”
As a result, the company expects to shave months off its time to market. “Although we are still in the process of measuring the entire time to market, through the first 75% of our process we are seeing tasks completed 20% sooner, while also having the accountability of who is working on each task and gathering key information from other departments all within a single Bluestar workflow,” Stich says.
Rayloc also expects to experience cost savings by the end of the year when it is able to shut down two separate servers that will greatly reduce its IT maintenance.
The company’s plans for the future don’t end here. “We want to get the quality management system module up and running and to allow our global team access to our information,” Stich says. “Additionally, we would like to get our laboratory testing data into Bluestar PLM in such a way that we can ensure all test protocols have been completed and then to report on the best in class designs. Similarly for laboratory testing data, we are currently inputting our Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) documentation to make sure we have all the necessary info before placing orders.
“Overall, now that we have access to great detailed information, we have identified many opportunities for improvement. This is guiding some of our key initiatives for the year ahead. We couldn’t have done any of this without Bluestar PLM.”
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