Nucor Warehouse Systems is a top leader in providing trusted and innovative solutions for tubing and racking customers around the world. For 30 successful years, the company’s business model was simple: deliver a quality product on time at a profitable price. And that model worked for a long time, sparking year-over-year revenue growth. In fact, the company grew so fast that in 2015, they expanded into a new Houston, Texas facility to better accommodate the evolving needs of their distributors, manufacturing representatives and O.E.M. partners.
Nucor Warehouse Systems didn’t want to be perceived as a “steel converter,” changing raw steel materials into racking parts and products for their customers. They knew it was time to provide an elevated customer service in addition to just offering their great products. Company leaders were frustrated that they were only able to pull a single lever to impact revenue – changing production volume. They needed a way to beat their competitors, to move faster, and to expand more easily.
“We needed a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” Eric Andres, Head of Commercial and Project Coordination at Nucor Warehouse Systems. “To win, we knew we needed a quicker proposal and design process, and to provide a turn-key solution to customers that showed the full value of our racking systems.”
The roadmap to the future seemed obvious: to develop new revenue drivers and new pathways to growth.
As their first step, company leaders analyzed the causes inhibiting their evolution. One of those factors was their inefficient sales process. Proposal creation was a lengthy, manual process that was typically customized for every project. Sales reps spent too much time manually assembling quotes; the engineering team felt they spent too many hours supplying sales with validated designs and drawings.
The design processes? Just as time consuming. This became especially painful with premiere eCommerce customers, who was ordering increasingly significant volumes of large-scale racking systems from the manufacturer. The team followed best practices, like using Autodesk Vault to manage, store, and collaborate on engineering files – but it wasn’t enough to keep up. The lack of automation and easy, repeatable processes made it tough to accommodate such a high influx of unexpected business. Their sales, design, and engineering processes just couldn’t scale quickly enough.
These challenges carried a high price tag: with their teams’ energies already allocated to large projects, the organization was grudgingly forced to turn away other jobs. The teams realized that to win more business opportunities, they had to adopt the right digital solution to increase productivity and eliminate manual errors.
Manual proposal processes were having downstream impacts, too. Errors and incorrect information led to manufacturing mistakes and rework, which wasted material. New trainees generated even more scrap waste on the shop floor, as it took them time to learn the right engineering and manufacturing rules.
The leadership group at Nucor Warehouse Systems put together an internal “Turnkey Solutions Team” to devise a more comprehensive sales approach, such as bundling additional products and services into a typical racking solution sales process. Although great for customers and sales opportunities, this approach increased service-scope with additional design and installation responsibilities. The additional product management, design, permitting, and onsite-safety considerations only added more complexity to the process – and ultimately highlighted the need for even more change.
With leadership team in agreement on digitizing their processes, the teams began to explore a deeper relationship with KETIV. It was time to look into revitalizing the sales process. The team is working to implement some of KETIV’s sales automation strategies, and the sales reps love the new proposal generation solution which allows them to build quotes and orders through a guided experience. Because the solution automates most of the information required, the sales reps no longer need to input much of it manually. This shrinks their quote creation time from multiple days to mere hours.
KETIV is working to streamline design and engineering workflows by creating a powerful automation tool that offers a modular and templated approach to designing complex, large-scale rack systems. Designers choose from three different designs of storage bay types in Autodesk Inventor, selecting rack sizing, part construction, and assembly options in a custom rack configuration.
“All the ways this tool can help us are so exciting,” said Eric. “Our designers can turn around a quote much more quickly, while the automation expedites the steps to put the system together. The simplicity and efficiency widens the net on who can participate in our design process.”
Company leaders are delighted to see how automation streamlines production; the solution can auto-generate supporting documentation for each project, including detailed bay drawings and installation specifications. After the operator inputs key values into the provided BOM tool, it generates the entire layout, ensuring speed and accuracy. This allows them to shift the customer approval of bay drawings from the design phase to the bid stage – further reducing their amount of returned materials.
Another benefit: centralized access to all product material, weight, and other data, which makes it easy to auto-generate “parts lists” on the fly. This also made change management much easier, with the application simply regenerating the BOM and other supporting documents as soon as the team adjusts the inputs.
As Eric recalled, the solution adoption wasn’t necessarily an overnight success. The KETIV Customer Success team had put a good solution in place – but soon they discovered some workers had reverted to their former, more manual habits. It seemed that leaders started highlighting some of the same pain points and inefficiencies they thought they had already addressed. They seemed unaware of the KETIV solution in-place, which had already solved those pain points.
KETIV and Nucor Warehouse Systems regrouped and re-committed to adoption – and this time, the company invested in strong top-down support and training. Using KETIV’s Pinnacle Series, a strategic training platform, the team learned how to use the supplied training and continues to integrate their own, personalized instructional content.
“All the ways this tool can help us are so exciting. Our designers can turn around a quote much more quickly, while the automation expedites the steps to put the system together. The simplicity and efficiency widens the net on who can participate in our design process.”
Thanks to standardized proposals and automated outputs, the company saw their success accelerate. With the KETIV solution fully implemented and adopted, there will be fewer production errors, less wasted material, and less wasted hours to diagnose and fix it.
KETIV loads training content specific to their deployed rack solution into their Pinnacle eLearning platform to speed employee onboarding and training. The combination of optimized training, onsite support, and having their engineering rules baked into the sales and design automation process, means new trainees no longer make as many mistakes or generate as much scrap.
With such a successful deployment, it is no surprise that Nucor Warehouse Systems is accelerating its digital transformation by partnering with KETIV on more projects. Future plans include additional enhancements to their rack builder solution. They are going to leverage all the models that the team is putting together, to feed them back internally into the material planning systems, which will give them more accurate costing. They are also seeking help with a smooth transition to Microsoft Dynamics ERP, as well as bringing simulation and testing in-house to support Research & Development.
“We have so many different opportunities with KETIV,” said Eric. “This is the solution we needed to take Nucor Warehouse Systems into a stronger future.”
The manufacturer wants to embark on another major project: design rack systems specifically for the building which will house them. By investing in Autodesk Revit, they plan to design their rack systems in the context of the customer’s space. The customer will send a file of their factory or warehouse, and the company’s designers will insert their rack systems to ensure proper scaling and flow through the facilities. The customers can envision how their racks will work in their location, while Nucor Warehouse Systems will be able to better plan the accessories that would span large distances across a warehouse to connect multiple rack systems. There is also a plan to turn this process into a 3D virtual reality experience to enhance the selling process and provide a unique experience to customers.
“We have a unique competitive advantage in our specific marketplace with this solution,” said Eric. “Our customers are used to this type of technology with other players in the building design side, like conveyors, platforms, integrations, and more; but we’re the only ones in this space, doing it this way.”