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Streamline Your Purchased Hot Requests to Improve Efficiency

As all companies must do, Jay Zimmer, of The Hodge Company, realized that the company’s current way of managing hot parts needed some enhancements and saw the need to innovate. As a 3PL for Deere, Hodge is moving thousands of parts a week through their warehouses. Currently much of Hodge’s focus is on the Deere’s Construction and Forestry plants in Dubuque and Davenport, Iowa.  

 When dealing with thousands of parts, even a small percentage of exceptions and expedite requests (commonly called “hot part requests”) distracts everyone from the main flow of parts and adds a tremendous level of stress as everyone works to ensure the line keeps flowing.  

Jay and his team are responsible for delivering hundreds of “Hot Exceptions” parts that are needed ASAP. Before engaging with Stratawise, like many companies still do, Hodge communicated hot requests through spreadsheets and hundreds of daily back and forth emails between multiple groups of people.  

Jay was familiar with Stratawise (now known as StrataFlows) because his team uses it to respond to part count requests from the StrataFlows Audit Request module for Deere. When Jay asked around, he learned that StrataFlows has solved similar challenges to his, such as the Warehouse Hot Part module used by many of Deere’s plants. Members of the Deere team recommended Jay to reach out to Stratawise to see how we could help.  

After a setting up a quick demonstration of StrataFlows, Jay was able to see how the module brings visibility, communication, accountability, and efficiency to John Deere’s hot part request between their factories and warehouses and wanted the same between his company/warehouses and the John Deere factories.  The existing Hot Parts automation StrataFlows provides is from a storage location in the warehouse to a line location in the plant, where Jay needed to automate upstream, from the supplier to the storage location in the warehouse or line location at the factory.  

The emphasis that the StrataFlows Hot Part module has on real time data within the John Deere plants sparked Jay’s interest.  StrataFlows can offer many elements an excel spreadsheet and emails cannot, such as:  

  1. A single source of truth   
  2. Controlled, automated workflow  
  3. Targeted emails to key stakeholders without the loss of communication
  4. Data validation and autofill of fields from SAP data  
  5. Historical visibility    
  6. Integrated, shared reporting and dashboards  

To continue reading about the limitations of spreadsheets, please click here to view our blog post.   

The new module put in place for the Hodge Company is easily customizable to fit into the company’s current system. The module works as so: the request is initiated by a Material Coordinator which triggers an email to the Supply Management planner. If required, the planner will trigger a Hot Sheet entry. After the Hot Sheet is entered, it is initially in a state of review, and once reviewed, the request is posted to the warehouse Hot Sheet view. This indicates the shipment is in-transit and clearly displays the shipping details for everyone to view. If after submission, the part cannot be fulfilled due to an issue, the logistic worker can report through StrataFlows, triggering a notification back to the Material Coordinator to make them aware of the issue. The Planner, having been notified, will be able to resolve the issue by updating the request details and commenting on the resolution as needed, notifying the warehouse the issue has been resolved. In bound hot parts recognized through critical shortage are utilized in this tool as well.  

As part of the real-time tracking StrataFlows provides, the module gives access to Pareto charts, which can show progress overtime but can also help identify areas of issue or concern. As part of fulfilling the request, the reason code for the parts expedite is captured, these codes also capture whether the issue is attributed to Deere or the supplier. From these Pareto charts, finding the root cause of issues has become simpler which allows for easier correction of problems.   

 Example reasons attributed to plant:  

  1. Write off  
  2. Build ahead  
  3. Carrier Failure  

Example reasons attributed to the supplier:  

  1. Quality problems  
  2. Routine delinquencies
  3. Shipping made out of frequency  
  4. Less than 24hr Notice  

By streamlining Hodge’s purchased hot requests, Jay said: “I’m so relieved to no longer worry about the stress of juggling hundreds of emails daily with copies of Excel spreadsheets trying to track and communicate changes–and worry if that shipment that needed to be there at 6am to keep production flowing is really going to be there.  There will always be issues that still interfere with that, but with this system, we can have the necessary visibility and control to know we’ve done what we can to ensure parts are where they need to be.” As we wrapped up our interview with Jay for this article, his mind was already on the next opportunity for him and his team to innovate to improve the speed and reliability of their service.  Of course, we suggested Stratawise can likely help with optimizing other processes.