Schaeffler Group is a global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. Highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability represent the basis for the Schaeffler Group’s lasting success.
This global company generated sales of approximately 13.3 Billion Euros in 2016. With 22,000 customers and 85,000 employees worldwide, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family-owned companies. It currently has 170 locations in over 50 countries, its network is comprised of 75 manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.
This German-based company has earned a reputation for being a leader in innovation. The Schaeffler Group has invested significant amounts in research and development, with 6,700 employees working on new products and technologies in 17 research and development centers all over the world. Schaeffler owns the rights to approximately 24,000 patents and files more than 2,300 inventions for patent applications every year.
Schaeffler is continuously adopting leading-edge strategies to improve their supply chain management process. With the objective of delivering high quality products on-time and at reasonable costs, Schaeffler is committed to innovating new ways to be more flexible and adaptable to any real-time changes. It utilizes a myriad of social media strategies in many areas along the supply chain to improve productivity, design and customer engagement.
Social media strategies deployed to improve efficiencies along the supply chain
Internet of Things:
In 2016, Schaeffler announced its plans to digitize its entire organization with IBM as its strategic partner. As a means to improve productivity, Schaeffler in conjunction with IBM will focus on the digitization of its internal processes and equipment. The partnership with IBM will allow Schaeffler to access IBM’s cloud-based Watson IoT technologies which will help transform every aspect of the whole supply chain from product development, through to manufacturing sales and aftersales service.
In its mission to digitize, Schaeffler will equip its components with digital intelligence and sensor technology which will allow it to mine and transmit a significant amount of data from millions of sensors across its operations via the internet. This process is referred to the Internet of Things.
This social media strategy is an innovative way to help establish a digital eco-system with customers and partners.
The Schaeffler Cloud:
In its automotive division, Schaeffler utilizes cloud-based condition monitoring (“CM”) systems. The cloud allows equipment users to share vibration data directly with suppliers and specialists in the cloud thereby providing opportunities for a faster diagnosis, faster reaction times and reduced machine downtime. The use of this social media strategy allows for greater efficiencies along the supply chain.
Global Technology Network
Another effective social media strategy is the Schaeffler Network of Research and Development Engineering Competence. Schaeffler’s global intranet has an “Ask the Expert Section” which provides opportunities for engineers across its global operations to offer support in interdisciplinary, development-oriented trouble shooting. In a recent interview with Dino Colalillo, Schaeffler Operations Manager, I asked for clarity on how this social media tool was used, “Schaeffler engineers can post questions to the bulletin board and request support and guidance from their fellow engineers. The global technology network facilitates collaboration of all the experts in the global network to create the best possible solutions for its customers. More than 1250 engineers, 130 sale offices and over 20 technology centers world wide deliver the collective expertise directly to customers locally.”
Social Media Communication tools
Along the supply chain, Schaeffler utilizes social media communication tools such as Skype for Business to provide updates on the flow of products and inventory. The world wide intranet is also used to share information internally between all divisions globally. The intranet provides overviews on Schaeffler strategies, announcements, regions, functions, processes and services and provides an opportunity for all employees globally to share general or business related topics on the intranet’s blackboard.
With regards to customer interactions, Schaeffler utilizes various social media tools such as WebEx communication to provide real time production updates and expected delivery times. In the spirit of transparency and efficiency, Schaeffler customers are asked to provide valuable feedback by completing customer score cards then encouraged to post feedback publicly on to their respective customer portals. Customers are also encouraged to provide audits on Schaeffler IT systems to ensure they are meeting the required standards for a seamless interface.
Electronic Document Interchange
When asked how Schaeffler utilizes social media strategies with regards to key operation strategies, Schaeffler Operations Manager, Dino Colalillo, stated “Schaeffler uses Electronic Document Interchange (EDI), which is essentially the electronic exchange of business documents between the computer systems of business partners, to receive direct downloads of customer daily demand directly to Schaeffler’s material management and scheduling systems. As a result, customers have the ability to adjust their demand right up to a half hour of the truck leaving the dock. The product is then transported to a “pool” point where they are then distributed to specific factories based on end use. Customers have full transparency into Schaeffler inventories and capacity remotely, this drives communication and planning for Schaeffler’s ability to support their forecasted demand.”
Lessons for Others
With roots dating back to 1946, Schaeffler Group has garnered a reputation for high quality, strong technology and innovation. With over 22,000 customers world wide, Schaeffler recognizes that the quality of the products that their end user receives is influenced by the actions across the whole supply chain. It has therefore committed to continuously improving and maximizing the performance of the whole supply chain to ensure the successful delivery of quality products.
- Social media can be used in many ways to improve all areas of the supply chain
- Improvement in supply chain processes enables cost and quality of products to be enhanced.
- Social media allows people at all levels of the supply chain to access data
- Innovation in design and technology is paramount to success at all levels of the supply chain
- Digitization is critical to the effective mining of data for future growth and development
- The facilitation of various modes of internal communication via social media tools such as the worldwide intranet is an important factor in effective trouble shooting, quality control and transparency.
- The internet of things is essentially a network of connected things. It is a modern and innovative way to mine significant amounts of data that can be used to help manufacturers be more flexible, make faster decisions and optimize the performance of equipment.
- It is estimated that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices.
Name of Organization Contact: Dino Colalillo, Operations Leader, FAG Bearings
Authored by: Diana N. Oddi
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