By David Trites

Joy Global, a worldwide leader in high-productivity mining solutions, is laser focused on helping its customers solve mining’s toughest challenges. From its headquarters in Milwaukee, this company of 16,000 employees operates facilities and service centers spanning six continents and more than 20 countries.

In the mining industry the number of companies tends to shrink over time as they consolidate to grow and diversify globally. At the same time, mining companies are facing tougher environmental and safety regulations around the world. That puts pressure on Joy Global’s customers to be more productive, eco-friendly, and safe at a lower cost.

Bigger is Better

Joy Global’s mining equipment is massive. It dwarfs the largest machines you’d see at a typical construction site. Its largest electric mining shovel has nearly a 100 cubic yard bucket with a 135 ton payload. To put that in perspective, you could pick up a school bus in its bucket. And that’s nothing compared to its walking dragline, which has a body the size of a warehouse with a boom arm that can easily reach across the length of a football field. The 160 cubic yard bucket on the end of the boom can effortlessly move hundreds of tons at a time. The epic capacity and capability of its machines successfully reduces the mining cost per ton for customers, but Joy Global also has to worry about its own costs. It needs efficient and standard processes, visibility into information, and the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions. “We need to be in the position to provide the most accurate data at any given point so we can make accurate decisions,” says Mark Shaver, Vice President and CIO at Joy Global. Having access to accurate data in real time requires integrated business software operating throughout the organization. That’s why, for nearly two decades Joy Global has been running most of its core operations on SAP software systems. “Prior to SAP we had a lot of different systems. That meant that you couldn’t look at data from a global perspective. It was very inefficient,” says Tim Bartel, Director of Business Process Optimization at Joy Global. SAP solutions give Joy Global a clear view into the most important information needed in all departments and at all staff levels. It provides synergies that were lacking between engineering, manufacturing, service management, and finance. “By having dynamic data, our shop floor all the way through management can see where we are at this very moment,” says Shaver.

Running in Real Time

Joy Global managers aren’t interested in what was going on weeks or even days ago; they want to know what’s happening now and what’s needed tomorrow. “SAP gives you the ability to gather the data quickly and also drill down into the data to really know what’s driving the numbers,” says Dan Buehl, Director of Financial Reporting at Joy Global. Joy Global is furthering its investment in SAP to gain addition financial control and global visibility. The current implementation of the SAP Business Planning and Consolidation application will enable Joy Global to pull together information from various controlling areas and better integrate new acquisitions. “When I first started with the company the closing process was probably in the 15 to 20 day range. Today we are down to 3 days. With SAP Business Planning and Consolidation we’re planning to get down to a 2 day close process,” says Buehl. The need for speed extends beyond the finance department. “The supply chain is benefiting because you can use all of that information to deliver quickly, spot trends, and react to them,” says Lindsey Farrell, Operational Excellence Manager at Joy Global.

Customer-Centric Service Model

Joy Global differentiates itself by having a direct service model, which keeps it in close touch with customers. Account managers live and work in the same communities with the miners so they understand them and know what they are looking for. “We have service centers and facilities right where our customers are mining,” said Shaver. A single global instance of SAP keeps service and repair processes in sync around the world. Every service request, repair job, and replacement part used on every piece of equipment is tracked in SAP. Joy Global also predicts and plans future refurbishment requirements for customers to prevent unexpected and unwanted downtime. Considering a single electric mining shovel has 18,000 parts, managing the service status of every machine in the field is no easy task, but Joy Global’s rigorous service management and repair processes have paid off. “We’re in a position to see how long it takes for jobs to get through our shops, and in just the last 4 years we’ve seen a 10% improvement in our on time delivery,” says Shaver. That means equipment keeps running, mines stay productive, and Joy Global lowers the cost of ownership for its customers.

Integration Improves Productivity

On the factory floor, Joy Global uses the SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) application to drive manufacturing productivity. By combining factory floor data with data from its SAP ERP application, shop floor managers can see how they are doing against production plans and requirements at any point in time. They can make real-time adjustments to work plans and rearrange their day as needed to keep the factories running as smoothly as possible. “We saw a greater than 10% productivity improvement in our pilot factory compared to when we went live,” says Bartel. Joy Global also relies on a large network of suppliers. Demand for parts and materials fluctuates based on customer needs and orders change frequently. To maintain a tight connection with suppliers – from forecasting through purchasing, shipping, and invoicing – Joy Global uses the SAP Supply Network Collaboration (SAP SNC) application. With tightly integrated systems across manufacturing, inventory, service management, suppliers, and finance, everybody involved in a process is singing off the same sheet of music. Throughput is increased and costs are reduced for both Joy Global and its customers. “Last year we were able to cut about $100 million off our inventory bills through a combination of solutions using SAP MII, SAP SNC, and the SAP inventory optimization processes,” says Bartel. As Joy Global pushes forward, it will continue to implement new technology into both its business and products so customers can be more productive and safer at a lower cost. President and CEO of Joy Global, Ted Doheny puts it best: “Joy Global has been a customer of SAP since 1996. This relationship has grown to a true partnership that strives on innovation and excellence in processes.” To read more about Joy Global, see Rise of the Underground CIO. This article originally appeared in SAP Business Trends.