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Flowserve Shows How Manufacturers Can Drive Efficiency With Interconnected Processes

Alena Davis, Appian
February 28, 2018

The competitive balance in the manufacturing sector is as tight as it has been in a long time. Global economic conditions are combining with developments in the energy, raw materials and even political sectors to create an environment in which industrial organizations cannot gain an advantage by simply ramping up output, PricewaterhouseCoopers explained.

Instead, manufacturers must improve productivity and efficiency to gain an edge.

Enter Industry 4.0, a new industrial revolution in which internet of things endpoints combine with a variety of digital technologies to transform how manufacturers manage their operations. Deloitte Insights reported that integration across operational components is increasingly necessary to take advantage of the connected systems that make up Industry 4.0 environments. Creating smart factories, for example, depends on being able to interconnect operations across a variety of settings.

Businesses need contemporary solutions to keep pace with these challenges. Appian is empowering manufacturers to bring together their varied data systems into a central process and application hub, changing the way people work. Want to know how? Consider how Flowserve used Appian: The Digital Transformation Platformô to update its processes and core business capabilities.

Flowserve and Its Initial Challenge

Flowserve is one of the largest developers and manufacturers of industrial valves and seals, pumps and seal systems in the world. The organization works out of a wide range of locations to serve a global customer base, creating a level of operational complexity that demands high levels of data gathering and sharing across the enterprise. To this end, Flowserve has long depended on a few major enterprise resource planning systems to help it document key information and gain visibility into everyday operations. This setup introduced a few problems, including:

    • Limited data integration between disparate ERPs.

    • Siloed information that forced users to jump between apps to handle processes.

    • Minimal support for workflow optimization when processes crossed multiple systems.

Working with Appian, Flowserve was able to interconnect its disparate ERP and similar backend systems into a common user interface. The resulting system empowers users to get the information they need quickly and coordinate complex processes across multiple locations, all within a single frontend.

How Flowserve Used the Appian Platform

With its ERPs converged into a central platform, Flowserve was able to transform a variety of processes.

Handling dispute management: Disputed invoices create considerable complexity as organizations work to get their books balanced and make sure they are spending responsibly. Flowserve used Appian to create a dispute management app that enabled the company to bring in data from diverse sources and quickly identify the underlying causes of the conflict. Flowserve has cut its average dispute resolve time in half and eliminated disputed invoices adding up to a multi-million-dollar value.

Aftermarket support: Customer experiences are a growing priority in a variety of industries. It isn't enough for organizations to have a good support team. Instead, end-to-end customer journey management is necessary, and Flowserve used Appian to increase transparency and accelerate operations within its aftermarket support operations.

The primary challenge Flowserve faced was a need to ensure a cohesive and positive experience across more that 150 globally distributed quick response centers. It had to track each workflow through an entire aftermarket support process to make sure each solution:

    • Suited the specific repair requirement.

    • Met rigid standards for quality control.

    • Incorporated any relevant historic data about the customer.

Prior to deploying the Appian platform, users had to log in to four or five separate systems to complete an aftermarket support process and ensure quality standards were met. With Appian, Flowserve employees could:

    • Take pictures of assets at each step of the service - receiving the item, disassembly, cleaning, inspection and recommending repairs - and use those digital assets in a customer-facing repair proposal.

    • Access the system on mobile devices - all without extra work by the development team, since Appian is mobile native.

    • Integrate every component of aftermarket services in a common interface.

Adding up the Results of Flowserve's Appian Projects

Deploying the Appian platform positioned Flowserve to adopt the 21st-century capabilities it believes are necessary for sustained success in its current competitive environment. The solution drove productivity gains, provided better control on costs and empowered the company to get a tighter rein on quality across its entire product and service portfolio. For Flowserve, Appian's flexibility and open-ended design stood out, giving the company freedom to create exactly what it needed and get those solutions out quickly.

When we described Flowserve integrating multiple heritage ERP systems into a central frontend, it probably sounded like a huge, time-consuming project. Flowserve found that it can implement major new systems in just two weeks. It took the company two days to roll out its dispute management app.

Manufacturers don't need to just interconnect their operations; they need to become agile and flexible to deal with rapidly changing market dynamics. Flowserve shows that Appian can be an engine for rapid, successful change.

Stepping Into the Future of Manufacturing

As competition continues to heat up and new technologies take hold in manufacturing, many organizations find themselves in a situation where they must operate as if they are delivering a service, not just a product. This reality is evident in Flowserve's aftermarket support, for example, as the brand needed to not only create pumps and seals efficiently, but also sustain positive customer experiences throughout the product use cycle.

The ability to offer end-to-end customer journeys that build trust from developing initial project specifications to selling goods and supporting them is changing manufacturing. Organizations can gain an edge at a time when such solutions as connected factories, 3-D printing and robotics allow them to handle a wider range of production types and support high levels of customization. All of these gains rely on data workflows and processes that streamline communications with customers and optimize operations across internal stakeholder groups.

Flowserve used the Appian platform to modernize its operations around digital, and its gains aren't out of reach for other companies in the sector.