The development of these applications was inspired by an outdated process that was slowing down the shipping department at the Company’s Steel Processing facility in Columbus, Ohio. After observing the time constraints the outdated process of printing and signing multiple pages of a bill of lading, Chief Information Officer Matt Schlabig saw an opportunity for change.
Thanks to a cross-section team from Steel Processing and IT, the Company was able to develop two time-saving applications that allowed truck drivers to get their steel loads quicker, and be on their way much faster. The team created and piloted the Bill of Lading eSignature (BOL eSig) application at Steel Columbus in February 2015 and introduced the application across all Steel plants by July.
“Through great collaboration among all locations, we were able to make an even better product,” said Dan Pachko, Enterprise Architect & Mobility manager. “We have been able to reduce the time a driver is in our steel facilities waiting for a shipment and signing for it thanks to mobile technology like tablets and wireless printers.” For example, in Columbus, drivers pull into a bay to load up their truck. After their truck was loaded, they would typically pull out of the bay to make room for the next truck. Then, walk back to the shipping office to sign and receive paperwork. “Now, all the truck driver does is sign a tablet, gets his papers from our shipper from the wireless printer on the shop floor and leaves.” It is great for the driver and great for the facility.
In addition, our steel facilities no longer have to file (and later retrieve) signed shipping documents. Those documents are automatically stored and can be retrieved electronically.
Another mobile project, completed in January 2015, improved management and visibility of steel inventory. The Mobile Inventory Scanning and Tracking (MIST) project provided a scanning system (tablets and wireless scanners) that saves time as tags on steel coils are scanned into the system with an updated inventory location. The system then has a very accurate inventory, and coils are easier to locate in the plant. The project team worked together to add features like using supplier coil numbers if a tag is missing, causing the tablet to sound a loud noise, vibrate and flash red when an invalid barcode is scanned.
For Steel Cleveland Operations Manager Dave Painter, the results have been noticeable. “I’ve rarely seen a technology solve so many problems in an organization, but the new mobile devices have had a significant impact on Cleveland’s efficiency and productivity. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Work Smarter…Not Harder’, this is the example of working smarter,” Painter said.
“Cleveland’s building is limited in its shipping layout, with one bay for in/out bound loads and three docks. The MIST devices have significantly improved our employees’ ability to find and pre-stage loads and the BOL eSig mobile devices allow our shippers to stay focused on getting trucks in and out of our building as quick and safe as possible.”
Painter sees the use of the technology as part of our agreement with customers, “Our Philosophy states that, ‘Once a commitment is made to a customer, every effort is made to fulfill that obligation,’ and the new mobile devices are all about responsiveness, empowering our employees to fulfill our commitments.”
Both systems are providing great improvements on the shop floors of all of the Steel Processing facilities and the team continues to work on future process improvements.