Apriso: Operations execution system raises Volvo CE to global enterprise status

There's a difference between a multinational corporation and a global enterprise. The former has operating units—production plants and other facilities—in numerous countries that essentially function on their own. The latter has an infrastructure—typically built on standard business processes and integrated information systems—that allow its globally dispersed units to ...

08/01/2008


There's a difference between a multinational corporation and a global enterprise.

The former has operating units—production plants and other facilities—in numerous countries that essentially function on their own. The latter has an infrastructure—typically built on standard business processes and integrated information systems—that allow its globally dispersed units to operate like a single organization.



Volvo Construction Equipment made the transition from multinational corporation to global enterprise by creating a central repository for the production processes carried out at its component, fabrication, and assembly plants.

Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), the Brussels-based division of Volvo Group, made the transition from multinational corporation to global enterprise by creating a central repository for the production processes carried out at its component, fabrication, and assembly plants. This process repository is linked to a plant operations system—Apriso FlexNet—that supports the execution of production processes at the various Volvo CE plants.

It's not unusual for manufacturers to deploy systems like FlexNet, which Apriso has dubbed an operations execution system (OES). What's unique about the Volvo CE implementation is the amount of flexibility that FlexNet allows when it comes to updating its manufacturing processes.

Processes managed via the FlexNet system can be changed almost instantly if someone discovers a better of way of doing something.

Each implementation starts with a template of best practices from the previous rollout, but if a new best practice surfaces during an implementation, it is incorporated into a “process profile” that is stored in the central repository for use at other plants.

This approach has made Volvo CE a more agile enterprise—capable of responding to unexpected demand shifts or supply chain disruptions, according to Scott Park, senior VP of processes and systems. He says the company is building products faster, and with better uniformity.

Volvo CE started rolling out the FlexNet suite at a plant in Changwon, Korea. That implementation took seven months and produced the first template for future deployments, as well as the first entries into the central business process repository.

Park says the template approach streamlined the process of deploying the system at individual plants. The second and third implementations were done in less than six months, and Park expects all 16 plants to be on the FlexNet system—and executing finely tuned production processes—within three years.

Park is confident the timetable will be met, and that Volvo CE will see continued process improvement through the full implementation and beyond due to the simplicity of FlexNet installations.

“We don't consider ourselves a technology-leading company from an IT perspective, but a strong follower of proven solutions,” Park concludes.

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