How a Tier One Supplier Saved Money by Automating Manual Approval Processes

Learn how SharpQuest helped a Tier One Supplier Saved Money by Automating Manual Approval Processes for engineering drawing approval work flow. Ability to share drawings with supplier online without risking data security is a step in right direction for a fast-paced organization.

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How a Tier One Supplier Saved Money by Automating Manual Approval Processes

By Piyush Bhatt  at Apr 19, 2021  0 Comments

How a Tier One Supplier Saved Money by Automating Manual Approval Processes


The fuel tank division of Plastic Omnium had a manual process for engineering drawing approvals that was slow and laborious. Signed approvals between Plastic Omnium and their suppliers was critical to ensuring that the final products would meet specifications. However, collecting physical signatures was making the process much too long and was frustrating their suppliers. They knew there must be a way to automate this and modernize their design operations.


The Drawing Approval Process Used Mail and Could Take Months to Complete


Here’s how the ink signature process worked. A technical drawing that was created with CAD software was printed out and hand-signed with an ink signature by an engineer, stamped as a control document, and released through a paper document control system. The drawing was then scanned back to make digital copy and sent out to the suppliers as controlled copies. The suppliers would review the drawings and either sign their approval, then send back or they would contact the Plastic Omnium engineer to request changes. The engineer would then make the changes to the drawing and the process would start again. Overall, this process took weeks to months to complete.

Application Modernization Services Solve the Issue


The Plastic Omnium team did some internal workshops to identify functionality that they wanted and brought those requirements to SharpQuest, their technology partner for application modernization. SharpQuest was focused on eliminating the paper and ink signature part of the process with automation and digital signatures on drawings that could be viewed electronically.

SharpQuest developed a pilot site for the team to do demos on the interface. Plastic Omnium provided feedback on workflows, functionality, and the layout and adapted the design to those ideas. As with any improvement project, additional capabilities were identified to extend the automation of this and corresponding workflows.

SharpQuest developed a new web portal that was accessible online for suppliers. An automated workflow was created that initiated when a design was submitted and tracked the status through revisions and approvals. As a part of the project, SharpQuest also created the solution architecture and database and migrated data from legacy systems into the new database.

Suppliers Were Thrilled and Plastic Omnium Saved $75K Annually Per Location


With the launch of the application, Plastic Omnium identified approximately 1,500 hours of annual labor savings by automating the process. Conservatively taking a $50/hour labor rate this is $75,000 annually. Additionally, they experienced a reduction of $1,000 in paper consumption annually. We are exploring how to roll out this application in other regions and offices to increase the productivity benefit. Together, that is approximately $75,000 in annual cost savings for every company location globally.

Beyond cost savings, the feedback on the process automation has been very positive. Engineers like the fact that they are able to submit the drawing transfers themselves. And suppliers are able to get them the same day as opposed to waiting for the postal mail. Both sides like the fact that it's electronic and that they no longer have to work with paper copies. On top of these positive changes, Plastic Omnium has the new database which tracks all the information so that people are able to go back and see what was approved for a specific project, which makes everyone involved more efficient. You can read the full Plastic Omnium story here.

Want to hear about other process automation projects? Read other manufacturing application modernization stories here.

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