Key Data Points
The following GSQA benefits reported by Energizer represent direct dollar improvements to the bottom line:
- 78% reduction in raw material receiving process steps
- 90% reduction in raw material receiving processing time
- Out-of-specification raw materials identified at the source
- Cost avoidance from improved change management procedures
- Return on investment in less than nine months
Energizer Holdings, Inc. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of primary batteries, battery-powered devices, and flashlights. Its Energizer division markets and sells Energizer® and Eveready® branded products in 165 countries throughout North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, South America, and Central America.
One key to Energizer’s financial success is consistent product quality. Consumers buy Energizer batteries because they deliver consistent, reliable power. From a manufacturing perspective, having a predictable process translates to high quality products. Product quality starts with quality suppliers who provide consistent materials that feed the manufacturing processes.
Pre-GSQA Material Verification Processes
To assure product quality, Energizer had been verifying raw material specifications as shipments were received. After analyzing their processes, the company decided to simplify the supplier quality processes associated with material tracking, testing and specification changes. If material specification data could be provided in advance of the shipment, Energizer could reduce the time from when the material was received to when it was used in production.
Energizer chose a supplier-focused platform (GSQA) for communication, supplier collaboration, and verifying material conformance to enhance its existing quality processes. Energizer now has 16 plants and more than 200 suppliers globally using GSQA. Delivered using a SaaS (software as a service) model, GSQA helped Energizer reduce its raw material receiving process time by approximately 90%, reduced the number of receiving steps by 78%, and identify out-of-specification raw materials at the source before entering their factories.
The avoided costs and time savings allowed Energizer to realize a return on their investment in just nine months.
Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Energizer is committed to evaluating and improving its processes to support higher yields, while maintaining consistent product quality. As part of its corporate commitment to improve global manufacturing operations and reduce overhead, Energizer targeted four specific areas:
- Improving material quality processes
- Reducing on-hand inventory
- Optimizing supplier communications across the supply chain
- Improving decision support tools
“GSQA … has allowed us to refocus the priorities of our human resources away from time-consuming paper shuffling and into other areas of lean manufacturing that make a difference.”
David Bernardone, Staff Quality Assurance Engineer
Material Quality Processes
Energizer wanted to optimize material quality processes. All incoming material had to be tested by Energizer against quality specifications. Variations were documented through a best-practices based CAR (corrective action request) process, but were manually generated and managed. The table below summarizes the major quality process issues and their effects:
Energizer accumulated inventory on its dock waiting to enter its manufacturing processes. The reason for the extra inventory was the timeliness of the material quality processes, and the commitment to high material quality standards. At times, Energizer had to wait for information from its suppliers to confirm test results. Automating the quality certification process would allow Energizer to reduce its inventory carrying costs.
Before deploying GSQA, Energizer had the following manual processes to ensure raw material compliance.
- Materials were tested by Energizer before being used in manufacturing
- Material variability was tracked manually
- CARs were generated manually and had limited visibility
- Communication of specification changes was time consuming
Optimizing Supplier Communications
Energizer wanted to streamline communication within their supplier community and communicate in a consistent manner across multiple supplier facilities. When Energizer identified a potential problem with a shipment, it was difficult to communicate corrective action requests with all the relevant supplier personnel and to present the issue data in a simple format. When an issue arose it might not get the attention it deserved in a timely manner.
Energizer sought for a more effective way to monitor their supplier’s ability to provide quality raw materials on a consistent basis. In response, Energizer needed to have ready access to the raw material quality data. The time associated with gathering this data could be significant and required resources across multiple departments. Energizer knew that if they could proactively track raw material quality, they would be able to improve their throughput yields and manufacture their products more consistently and at a lower cost.
To reduce its material testing overhead processes and supplier communication issues, Energizer understood that a system would have to have meet the following criteria:
- Allow suppliers to certify material quality before shipment
- Provide real-time data on material variability
- Reduce the time to process supplier corrective action requests
- Simplify supplier responsiveness
- Improve labor efficiency within Energizer’s manufacturing facilities
- Allow Energizer to re-deploy labor resources to more productive activities
After carefully researching its options, Energizer selected GSQA from EMNS, Inc.
GSQA – Single Platform
GSQA provides a platform for both integrated material variability tracking and supplier-focused quality processes. Delivered using a SaaS model, the business intelligence generated by GSQA enables manufacturers to change from reactive problem management to proactive problem prevention across their global supply chain.
GSQA collects incoming supplier raw material test results using its innovative e-COA capability. The e-COAs provide the basis for Energizer to consistently and efficiently measure material quality. GSQA then uses that data to proactively identify potential material variances. Once identified, GSQA provides a platform to manage the corrective action request processes. GSQA provides both the supplier and the receiving factory the same data, providing a common platform for communication.
In addition, GSQA manages both supplier certifications and ongoing material specification changes, resulting in improved accountability and a simplified compliance management process.
Quality Process Improvements
With GSQA, Energizer streamlined and improved the efficiency of its material quality processes. The following table illustrates several key benefits:
How GSQA Works….
GSQA fills the void left by most enterprise applications. GSQA collects, stores and analyzes material parameters and production settings to improve manufacturing yield. GSQA’s knowledge base of raw material characteristics and process variables allows manufacturers to correlate input cause to output effect. This correlation allows manufacturers to proactively prevent disruptions, resulting in improved yield by reducing waste.
At the same time, GSQA improves the relationship between the licensing company and its supply base. The supply base is managed via easy-to-access web-based portal technology for regulatory and industry certifications. Procurement professionals gain data-driven insights into supplier performance for more effective sourcing. Plant operations management exerts more control over material variability, increasing yields and return on assets. Research and Development personnel gain visibility to supply chain compliance with material specifications (raw, WIP, finished products) and can adjust interactively as internal or market conditions dictate.
Instead of focusing on interruptive issues that reduce supply chain effectiveness and profitability, quality professionals using GSQA have a system resource for proactively driving process improvement that supports operational excellence.
Rapid Implementation and Adoption
Delivered over the Internet, GSQA required little input from Energizer’s information systems department. All of the relevant information was easily and quickly uploaded, including material specifications, supplier information, and testing requirements. The supplier community adapted well to the new system. Suppliers quickly found that the platform simplified their relationships with Energizer, allowing them to provide answers to Energizer’s questions faster and with less effort.
Continuously Improved Sourcing
In addition to helping Energizer extend their quality processes to their suppliers, GSQA introduced strategic sourcing benefits. The data from GSQA, including incoming material variability and the number and cost of supplier issues, provides the basis for strategic sourcing initiatives. With this data, Energizer’s purchasing organization can determine which suppliers provide the best material, improving production yield and enabling further supplier economies of scale. The growing volume of supplier data enables continuous improved strategic sourcing decisions.
Energizer realized a positive ROI in less than nine months of implementing GSQA, and it continues to make improvements based on new data received every day. The material receiving process was slashed by 90%, materials are now certified by suppliers rather than tested by Energizer, and out-of-specification materials are identified before reaching the factory. As a result, Energizer benefits from lower inventories, more efficient manufacturing operations, and more consistent product quality — the primary driver of consumer satisfaction.
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