Correct Change: Automaker BMW Automates Purchasing At South Carolina Plant

New procurement system opens up time, resources for other business needs.

The Problem: Inefficiency in purchasing of indirect materials and small-value orders.

The only BMW plant in the U.S., the Spartanburg, S.C. BMW plant, produces z4 Roadster and the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). Upon analysis, management found that their buyers were spending much of their time communicating via fax with indirect materials suppliers to process some 17,000 transactions. According to buyer Jason Trevison, "Sometimes, suppliers said they did not receive the orders. The old way of doing business was time consuming and unreliable."

The Solution: Procurement process re-engineering.

Now, the purchasing operation has automated enough aspects the indirect materials buy to allow them time to manage supplier relationships. The solution co-developed with Solutience is called the BMW Procurement System and allows for:

  • Users to create reservations for inventoried (or non-inventoried) maintenance parts
  • Setup of an automated inventory reordering system for storeroom suppliers
  • Automatic sending of orders with shipping labels directly to suppliers
  • Tracking of email/EDI delivery and receipt
  • Supplier capability to access online systems via digital certificate to confirm order quantity, description, price and delivery date
  • Automatic PO generation and email for small-value orders

According to Solutience's Richard Fowler, having a SAP expert around can help unlock capabilities across the business for companies willing to ask. "We had people working there for a while helping to document business process reengineering, and they got to know people on the business side who came to us and said "We don't think this is working right," he said. "All we've done is shown them the added value that was already in place, waiting to be exploited, in their SAP system."


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