The company is a recognized leader in the welded steel pipe industry, with pipes used in many different applications, including water infrastructure, energy, agriculture and industrial systems. The orginization is headquartered in Vancouver, Washington with nine manufacturing facilities across the United States and Mexico. Facilities are strategically located throughout the US to take advantage of regionalized markets to shorten the length of haul.
The company has two main divisions with diverse products and distribution needs. The Water Transmission Group manufactures large, high-pressure steel pipes and delivers product directly to a job site. The Supply Chain network is dynamic since locations and load configurations are always changing. In the tubular product division, the company operates three plants that manufacture smaller pipes with deliveries to customers, processors and distributors. The tubular product shipments are static loads that are standard and legal size.
Business Process and Problem Definition
The company’s transportation group was running in a decentralized manner, with each facility managing its own transportation and processes. There was a lack of consistency amongst the facilities which hindered the relationship with carriers. This decentralized management prevented the company from using corporate buying power to get the best rates from carriers. In addition, most processes were manual, being managed by fax, email, spreadsheet, and phone. With the combination of decentralized management and manual processes, the company had very limited visibility across the transportation network.
The company established goals for the transportation system and services:
- Centralize transportation functions
- Standardize and automate processes
- Increase visibility across business units
- Improve communication and collaboration
- Reduce transportation costs