Automatically better: the power of automation solutions

Industrial process fluids maker Quaker Houghton improves customer service with a Nintex-based automated workflow solution that initiates analyses of customer samples

Automatically better: the power of automation solutions

The success of industrial process fluids maker Quaker Houghton is determined by its ability to help other businesses run better.

It does this by improving their processes, reducing their costs and advancing their safety and sustainability around the fluids they use to make, roll, cut or cast metals. The manufacturing processes in which Quaker Houghton’s customers use its fluids are precise and sophisticated. If anything is less than perfect, it can result in chemical deposits on a machine or defects in steel or aluminium sheets.

To resolve these issues, Quaker Houghton must get the right samples and information to the right lab – of which the firm has nearly 20 worldwide – for analysis. Emails are the primary form of communication, but this can cause significant delays and confusion, particularly when each sample needs tracking, approving and reporting, and when several parties are involved.

Quaker Houghton implemented a workflow solution with Nintex to replace this inefficient and ineffective system.

“We use Nintex to empower the end user to manage their own tools because it’s so easy to use,” said Teresa Fisher, SharePoint architect at Quaker Houghton. “Because Nintex is very visual and can be used with minimal training, lab managers can update workflows or edit their tools on their own. Even Nintex licensing makes it cost-effective to use the technology wherever we want to.”

The Nintex solution also enables Quaker Houghton to rapidly develop technology. “A big selling point for me is the ability to use an elaborate Nintex workflow in one department and then copy, edit and reuse it in another department,” said Fisher. “I can turn a new workflow over for testing in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks, because we’ve already shown that the original workflow works.”

The firm’s solution for lab requests and reporting uses Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflow. Customer-facing sales and service personnel can access the lab request form via an online portal, and complete fields and drop-down lists with details on the fluid type, how the customer uses it, and the resulting defect.

Calculations behind the Nintex Form then identify which lab the service representative should send the request and samples to for analysis. Nintex Workflow then routes the request to the appropriate reviewers and approvers. When the lab completes its analysis, the resulting report is sent to all relevant parties and archived in SharePoint for easy access in future, eliminating the need to make time-consuming requests for additional copies.

Fisher designed the solution with a dashboard that provides a clear summary of all requests at all the labs for all product lines, making it easy to see an aggregated overview of lab requests. Managers can see which labs are running at – or below – capacity, allowing them to manage and optimise workloads for greater efficiency. They can see which product lines are generating the most requests, which technical issues are most prominent across customers and product lines, and which regions are experiencing the most issues. All this provides real-time insights that Quaker Houghton can use to improve its responsiveness to customers.

After successfully testing the solution in its EMEA region, Quaker Houghton rolled out the solution globally to hundreds of sales and service personnel. The enhancement to the customer experience begins when a customer raises a concern with the service representative.

Previously that representative had to leave the customer meeting, open a laptop, establish a hotlink and VPN to a portal, download a request form, complete and email it. Now, the sales representative can access and complete the form immediately in front of the customer, without having to go through laborious communications steps. The customer sees the immediate response and can be confident that Quaker Houghton is taking appropriate action. The process has also removed the lengthy and time-consuming email conversations between the service representatives and the labs, so customers get faster turnarounds on their requests. In the last 12 months, the solution saved the EMEA-based labs approximately 200 hours in administrative time.

For Fisher and her colleagues, one of the most impressive measures of success of the solution is how many other managers and departments at the company want Nintex-based solutions of their own.

“Requests from throughout the company for Nintex Workflow solutions are on the rise,” said Fisher. “We have projects underway with manufacturing, raw materials, procurement, product marketing, finance and more. Nintex is having a dramatic impact on our business. If we didn’t have Nintex, we’d have to invent it.”

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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