ME Global, a wholly owned subsidiary of ME Elecmetal, manufactures high-quality components for large-scale mining operations. As a global company serving customers in 40 countries, it realized that a full-bore digital transformation could help them improve quality, product development agility, and cost-efficiency. With big thinking and careful planning, ME Global is using Autodesk PLM (Autodesk Fusion 360 Manage combined with Vault Professional) for data and process management to create a single source of truth that helps them improve product designs more efficiently, get products to market faster, and exceed customer expectations for predictability.
ME Global is known for delivering high-end, long-lasting rock crusher concaves and mantels, mill liners, grinding media, and ground engagement tools. Photo courtesy of ME Global.
When your products can crush rocks the size of cars, thinking big comes naturally. This is exactly how mining component manufacturer ME Global approached its own digital transformation. The company knew it could manage workflow more efficiently among its 1,000 employees operating on four continents and serving customers in more than 40 countries. Around the world, ME Global is known for delivering high-end, long-lasting rock crusher concaves and mantels, mill liners, grinding media, and ground engagement tools. But every once in a while, an engineering change order (ECO), would get “stuck,” in the words of Engineering Technical Manager, Michael Best.
“When you don’t have a single source of truth, an ECO can get stuck,” Best says. “Maybe it was delivered to a reviewer who has since left the company. Or it needs to be seen by an account manager who is traveling. Or there is a critical field missing in the document. In all of these cases, you can’t move forward. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.”
Time is critical for ME Global. Mining companies orchestrate enormous, high-cost operations that run on precise schedules and lose money with every minute of downtime. Changing a mill liner is a complex process that takes 10 to 15 days to complete. That means when ME Global commits to delivering the new liner by a certain date, that deadline must be met. Yet, ME Global was relying on a collection of point solutions, spreadsheets, and paper-based processes to manage its daily work.
The Autodesk PLM data and process management solution helps ME Global go big with their digital transformation. Photo courtesy of ME Global.
“We realized that with our previous approach, every piece of information was anywhere for up to 24 hours old before it was captured, which creates a lot of opportunity for mistakes,” Best says. “Our products are made in steel foundries and a single liner can weigh up to 11,000 pounds. One mistake on a product that size could waste a lot of time and money.”
This reality prompted ME Global to go big with its digital transformation, deploying a cloud-based PLM solution that would connect their data, people, and processes globally to give everyone just-in-time access to the information they need.
“We evaluated a number of product lifecycle management systems,” Best says. “We needed one that was flexible, accessible from anywhere, and simple to use. We chose Autodesk Fusion 360 Manage combined with Autodesk Vault Professional. When you’re tying processes and data sources together, there’s no better way to put everything in one place.”
Thinking big affected everything about ME Global’s digital transformation. The planning team started with a year of stakeholder interviews to understand current workflows and develop a more streamlined process. Then they began implementing the new approach in phases, the most recent of which involved launching 30 Fusion 360 Manage workspaces in one day. In the first five weeks alone, ME Global created over 400 ECOs and 190 associated tasks.
Best refers to the old adage of “better, cheaper, faster... choose two,” when he explains that Fusion 360 Manage will actually help ME Global do all three. “We’re already moving projects through much faster than before,” he says. “We have complete visibility of all projects, and everyone is automatically notified when an ECO reaches the next step. When my engineering team receives a new project, we already know it’s coming. We can pre-plan, pull information straight out of Vault, and get going on it immediately.”
Of the three big benefits, faster is the most important. The lead time required to manufacture a mill liner is typically 24 to 26 weeks. Best expects the new solution to cut 10 working days out of the schedule in both engineering and the delivery of casting patterns, reducing lead time to 22 to 24 weeks. And while that is a significant improvement, ME Global is thinking bigger.
“When the full solution is implemented, we anticipate reducing lead time to 18-20 weeks and beating our competitors to market with a higher quality product that costs less to make, all of which increases the bottom line,” he says.
Moving to a single source of truth also solves day-to-day pain points. Account managers often struggled with the previous process, which required them to fill out 27 unique fields in a form to create a proposal, and 15 more for an ECO; all in Autodesk Vault Professional. Worst of all, remote access required a VPN and if connectivity dropped—a common occurrence in many regions—they had to start over. The new process is not only simpler with dropdown menus and pick lists but accessible from anywhere.
“Fusion 360 Manage allows us to connect everyone, everywhere, to the same information around the world at any time,” Best says. “With a laptop and Wi-Fi, account managers can place orders right from the customer site without the need to travel back to the office or use a VPN.”
“We evaluated a number of product lifecycle management systems. We needed one that was flexible, accessible from anywhere, and simple to use. We chose Autodesk Fusion 360 Manage combined with Autodesk Vault Professional. When you’re tying processes and data sources together, there’s no better way to put everything in one place.”
—Michael Best, Engineering Technical Manager, ME Global
Connecting the entire enterprise with a cloud PLM solution helps ME Global reduce the burden of unnecessary work, freeing up more time for innovation and solving their customers' challenges. Photo courtesy of ME Global.
Connecting the entire enterprise with a cloud PLM solution delivers a wide range of advantages for a global organization spread across boundaries, borders, and time zones, using different languages and a mix of communication channels. For Best, it all comes back to the single source of truth that eliminates time spent searching for the right document, the right version, or the right reviewer.
“Most companies create silos of information and ME Global was no different,” he says. “By standardizing our processes and integrating them into Fusion 360 Manage, we can reduce the silos and burden of unnecessary work. The idea is to reduce all the noise from other tools and place everything in one location for the company to use anywhere.”
A single source of truth also makes it more efficient to solve customer issues. If a mining company is progressing through a mountain and discovers a different grade of aggregate 200 feet in, they need a different mill liner. It may be a liner that worked well on a previous mining campaign. “With Fusion 360 Manage, we can find the ECO from two years ago, pull it, and create a new one easily,” he says. “All the associated files and documents are attached within Vault. We can make changes to refine the design and move it through the process that much faster.”
Of course, ME Global isn’t finished with their digital transformation. When Best refers to a single source of truth, the emphasis is on “single.” The next phase will involve integrating the Microsoft® Office suite, scheduling tools, auxiliary file storage, and even CRM and ERP systems.
“This project is far from over,” Best says. “We have four more phases in the next 24 months. Together, Fusion 360 Manage and Vault Professional will be at the core of our engineering and operational structure, helping us to decrease costs, reduce waste, reduce overhead, and increase production.”