Plumber's helper Featured

7:00pm EDT January 30, 2003
At a global supplier conference in 1999, Moen Inc. vice president Ken Slusher and his supply chain colleagues were handed a mission to create a paperless, streamlined communication system with the suppliers that help Moen make its faucets.

"At the time, we had no idea how to do it," reveals Slusher, vice president of sourcing and productivity engineering. "All we were sure of is that it could be done. When we got back, we just started mapping it out, and about a year later, we launched it."

The system, SupplyNet, connects Moen's 130 international and domestic suppliers with a Web interface tied into Moen's internal SAP business management software. The supplier can view every step of an order, from creation through receipt.

Every time a supplier refreshes the page, it's fed from SAP, so both sides view real-time information.

The site includes various message boards including a quality notification board; a product drawings board, where suppliers can access the design schematics; and a PPAP (production part approval process) board, so the vendor can access more information about what kind of part to supply.

"If we create a purchase order, the supplier has the ability to acknowledge it, to change it, which generates an e-mail, to modify it or to accept it," Slusher says. "What we have done is accelerate the exchange of information."

SupplyNet includes a 12-month forecast, which offers Moen's vendors an estimate of how much business to expect.

"It's not a guarantee of business, it's more our current forecast based on our look at the company," Slusher says. "As it changes, it changes in real-time. We don't have to remember to send them a fax or remember to call them. It updates automatically. If something is changed in SAP, the site sees it."

Slusher says SupplyNet has helped reduce inventory, improve plant efficiency, eliminated costs and reduced the internal administrative time for supplier support, all without an increase in Moen's SAP licensing fee.

"What it has done is it eliminates human error," Slusher says. "Before, you counted on somebody to send an e-mail, send a fax, entering data. Now the data is in there." How to reach: Moen Inc., (800) 321-8809.