Looking to develop greater internal automation software to help push the upper limits of efficiency and reduce waste?
Automating Inventory Management with Software Development
Building an internal tool to digitally connect thousands of parts
What we accomplished
Total Locations Sharing the System
Honeywell UOP, formerly UOP (Universal Oil Products) LLC, is a multinational company founded in 1914 with 25 locations, 5,000+ employees and nearly $3 billion in revenue. Rooted primarily in developing technology for the oil and gas industries, they also provide major manufacturing advancements in assembly and distribution of plant systems and controls.
A group of intermediate managers, in control of the operations of their division, approached us in order to help bring some technological advancement to the way that they managed inventory within their multiple locations. The division had three primary locations that shared inventory amongst themselves, yet up until this point had only been manually updating inventory by way of emailing around spreadsheets each and every day. These locations shared parts in order to build larger manufacturing solutions, and often struggled to know exactly where a part could be found if not at their plant.
Naturally there was a disorganization to the process and the big issue was the fact that when attempting to audit periodically, parts went missing. Therefore, the opportunity in front of us was to work with the Honeywell UOP team to get inventory up-to-date, build a foundation of automation through technology, enlist inventory controls and work to train the team on the new system going forward.
Strategy, Experience, Development
Workshops, User Interface, Web Design, Software, CMS
Building a core solution that would likely be scaled upon, the most crucial aspect of our approach involved first understanding the breadth and depth of the product variances and how these products currently went through “inventory controls” in-house. We went onsite multiple times in order to document the current process and learn the key people and teams involved in this next stage of automation. This involved tours of the facilities, going from one “step” literally walking to the next. From there discussions centered around how the expectation was believed to be set in terms of getting all of the current products into the system.
After deciding on a strategy and tactics to gather that data in a consistent fashion over the next 3 months, we then focused on understanding how the software created would pair with existing structures. Being a large enterprise, Honeywell had a long list of requirements with regards to new technology platforms and where those could be hosted.
Finally we worked hand-in-hand with the internal team to create a user experience based on the multiple user types that had to exist (requester, picker and admin) as well as the user interface to apply to that experience.
A PHP-based CMS and internal portal was built that allowed all positions within the department to drastically increase efficiency and reduce waste. The software itself is currently in charge of over 1,000 unique SKUs relating to an inventory of over 230,000 parts. Besides the big addition of having inventory controls tagged to locations digitally, there were a number of other key UX features built.
Most notable was the creation of multiple user types whose user experiences intersected in order to provide a more useful way to communicating and monitoring part inventory. The two main users of the system were split into a “Picker” and a “Requestor” type, whereby the Requestor submitted a cart of desired parts to the Picker to double check inventory based on the system and either approve or re-source.
Alongside this “cart” system there was an addition of an order management queue helping to showcase the process through a series of steps: Received, Claimed, Processing, Collected and Ready. All of these stages within the order management process tied to email triggers, helping to keep all users (plus admin) in the know about requests.