At Metalcolor, "lean management" is applied not only to production but also to administration. The "lean" approach is designed to improve products and processes continuously while identifying value streams and eliminating unnecessary activities and costs. Our faithful employee Iris Alder works in Management Support, where she harnesses her 20 years’ experience as Sales Coordinator for the purpose of developing lean management in our company, a task to which she is now entirely dedicated.
The "lean" approach basically distinguishes between value-adding activities, for which the customer is willing to pay, and non-value activities and waste. Some non-value activities are necessary like loading trucks, writing invoices or bookkeeping. However, this work should be simplified or integrated wherever possible. Other activities which are unnecessary to end-customers and the company should be eliminated.
Accordingly, various sales administration tasks have recently been automated. When orders are being registered, that information is fed into transportation orders. The system automatically calculates the weight and the space needed on the truck floor. These orders are transmitted electronically to our freight forwarders, who receive a loading number together with the date and time for collection of the goods. "This system is an excellent tool, the arrival of the truck is recorded in our system, allowing us to gauge the punctuality of our transporters. Besides, the drivers are in possession of the transportation order number, which avoids any confusion as to the batches to be loaded,” says Pedro Da Silva, who is in charge of loading. The loading date is also transmitted to Production so that goods can be manufactured on the date scheduled under the "PULL" system.
Once loading is completed, a simple click converts the transportation order into an invoice. Another advantage is that, because the transportation order includes the weight of the load and the space it occupies on the truck, the system is able to calculate the transport costs accurately. Transporters' invoices are received by email and processed through our electronic document management system, which is linked to our ERP System (Enterprise Resource Planning). Invoices are then automatically verified and the system validates them for payment. The only invoices sent to the sales administration for verification are those whose amount do not correspond to our estimate. "This development has made for major time savings in sales administration and accounting, allowing people to devote that extra time to more qualitative and value-adding tasks. Moreover, errors such as double payment or double billing are eliminated,” says Luis Ovelha, Head of Sales.
And Iris Alder concludes: “Not only does this optimised system save time, it also allows us to analyse transport costs, as we are able to establish statistics in real time by country, by client and by region.” Several other aspects of administration are currently being developed with this same concern in mind. These include simplifying the order registration process and extending the reception of orders, or the sending of order confirmations and invoices via an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system.
Head of Sales