IBIDEN USA Eliminates Error-Prone Manual Processes with HULFT

Manufacturing | HULFT Integrate

A century of innovation IBIDEN Co. Ltd is a leading manufacturer of electronics, advanced ceramics, automotive and housing materials, and other raw materials for various industries. With nearly 14,000 employees around the world, the 100-year-old manufacturing pioneer is recognized for its emission-reducing diesel particulate filter. It is also one of the first Japanese suppliers recognized by Apple for only using recycled energy to manufacture all its parts for Apple.

An innovator in sustainable, renewable energy, IBIDEN Co. Ltd. began its operation as a hydroelectric power generator and, to this day, still operates three hydroelectric power plants. IBIDEN-owned cogeneration systems power the company’s current facilities.

All of IBIDEN is growing within new communities and spreading the “IBIDEN Spirit,” – a dedication to teamwork, innovation, trust, integrity, and corporate responsibility – as it expands to meet customer demand for new commercial products that improve efficiencies and capabilities.

Mired in manual processes

IBIDEN USA, a sales division of IBIDEN Co. Ltd., offers a wide variety of parts to meet customer needs; but between its diverse catalog and complex inventory structure, the company found itself stuck in outdated processes.

With orders consisting of 10-20 various part numbers and several delivery locations, IBIDEN’s four-person fulfillment team spent much of its time in logistical grunt work. Forecasts and shipping requests were received by the warehouse, turned into orders, which were then sent to the accounting team to manually enter into the system.

Changing prices and similar part numbers meant the IBIDEN team had to regularly cross-check them. Often, employees were spending 15-20 minutes just entering orders and the overall end-to-end process was time-consuming and error-prone.

“Once something goes wrong, it spreads because the data is not linked together,” said Mr. Atsushi Uchida, President and CEO of IBIDEN USA. “It’s a complex inventory management process that creates additional work for the accounting team and impacts the close of books. It puts pressure on the team to rush, which potentially generates more mistakes.”

“HULFT took a holistic approach to the problem. They were very focused on solving the issue.”

Atsushi Uchida

President and CEO, IBIDEN USA

The search for a solution

IBIDEN needed a partner to help them streamline and automate the ordering process and embarked on a search for a cost-effective, easy-to-use solution that would also directly import the pricing, inventory and ordering data. After considering
other cloud offerings such as Salesforce, IBIDEN selected HULFT Integrate.

“HULFT is easier, meaning that you don’t have to change your internal system,” said Uchida. “It can be done outside, so it’s like a bridge in between the systems. We don’t have to modify or change the software itself, and that is very appealing to us.”

A complete automation process for order, shipment, and price tracking

The HULFT Professional Services Team stepped in to develop a plan for IBIDEN, and the team’s consultative approach set the program up for success.

“HULFT took a holistic approach to the problem,” said Uchida. “They were very focused on solving the issue, and they were looking beyond the HULFT Integrate implementation or the sales of the software itself. They came into our processes, and
even interviewed our staff to understand what was going on and understand the data.”

Live on HULFT Integrate in four months

By laying the groundwork in advance, the HULFT Professional Services Team had defined 80-90 percent of the project before it started. The HULFT team extended the power of HULFT Integrate for a comprehensive automation cycle:

  • Automated multiple-item entries. Item entries arriving from storage warehouse are usually listed multiple times. To prevent inaccurate inventory tracking, HULFT created a new system that automatically consolidates repeated items into a single entry.
  • Automated consolidation of prices. Previously, item prices – which were tracked in an external spreadsheet – had to be cross-referenced with a separate data source to confirm accuracy. Errors occurred when or if the items stated in the
    emails did not appear in the pricing spreadsheet. HULFT Integrate leveraged these data sources and automates the entire process, enabling IBIDEN to determine aggregate prices for combined items.
  • Automated error reporting. To ensure consistency and that internal errors are not repeated, HULFT created an automated
    error reporting system that gathers all historical transactions and analyzes why mistakes happened in the first place.

Within four months, IBIDEN was live with HULFT Integrate, an intuitive data integration and processing solution that allows organizations to connect with over 80 different data sources minimal coding. Using HULFT Integrate, IBIDEN’s datadense
emails can now be matched to both customer and pricelist, and then extracted in a file format that is automatically uploaded into the Microsoft Dynamics database.

Immediate results that save time and improve accuracy

Upon implementation, the effects of HULFT Integrate were immediate. With HULFT, the IBIDEN team has reduced the total order processing time by 24 percent. Also, employees can now enter sales orders 42 percent faster than ever before.
Currently, these numbers are 40 percent of the overall reduction target.

During the entire implementation, the HULFT Support Team was with IBIDEN every step of the way. “Up until the kickoff to go live, and all the way through, they were on our side,” said Uchida. “They were very responsive to our questions, and overall
we are delighted with the outcome so far. The manual entry is now almost eliminated, which allows our staff to be more productive.”

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