'The Biggest Challenge'

By Doug Bartholomew  |  Posted 2006-10-02 Print this article Print

International Game Technology, a maker of slot machines, uses an enterprise resource planning system to tilt the odds in its favor by cutting production turnarounds and streamlining staff access to company information.

'The Biggest Challenge'

"SAP has a great configuration product, but getting all that information into the system was not an easy task," she adds. The company overcame this challenge by assembling a team of people from the order group and engineering department, and assigning them the task of customizing the system to accommodate the company's complex bill of materials for its various product lines. "SAP is customizable," Cudworth points out, "but we didn't have all the unique aspects of our products documented. And you can't test every single configuration. That was the biggest challenge."

Again, the results were worth the extra effort. IGT was able to cut its standard lead time from customer order to shipping, from nine to 10 weeks down to seven or eight weeks—and half that for orders accepted for quick turnaround.

Similar to most large manufacturers, IGT has installed other technologies in its manufacturing and shipping areas to boost efficiency and throughput. For instance, the company revamped its warehouse management process so that parts are delivered to the assembly line faster, with employees using handheld radio frequency readers to pick and deliver various parts and subassemblies to the production line.

While IGT struggled a bit to adapt SAP's ERP system, the company has seen significant improvements as a result of the shift to the newer enterprisewide technology. As Cudworth puts it: "ERP certainly has helped us from an efficiency standpoint, and having a transactional platform like this is opening opportunities for us to use other technologies."

NEXT PAGE: 5 Steps For A Smooth ERP Project

Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

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