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World's Largest Chemical Company

The world’s largest companies tend to have an enormous amount of items that they purchase globally in multiple languages and systems. There is often significant value to be unlocked in this Big Data.

Key facts:

  • Fortune 50 Company
  • USD 60 Billion Revenue
  • 60 000 Employees
  • Live with Refresh since 2012
  • 2.5 Million SKU’s in scope
  • ERP systems: SAP R2, ECC6

Business Challenge

The world’s largest companies tend to have an enormous amount of items that they purchase globally in multiple languages and systems. There is often a significant hidden saving to be unlocked through prudent and targeted standardization efforts on these items, but it’s not without significant effort. In the past it didn’t make much sense to do it since, without algorithmic automation it ends up being an impractical task to do quickly and well. With Refresh software automation it remains a formidable task but stubborn savings that were previously impractical are now firmly within reach.

This particular customer is a household-name Fortune 50 Chemical multinational with many materials – around 4 million SKU’s in their ERP systems spread around 200 sites in 35 countries worldwide. As part of a global efficiency drive, about USD 500 Million in EBITDA savings had been targeted, with a similar amount in CAPEX reduction promised over the next few years. After demonstrating potential for tangible savings on a successful test set of 10 000 global Raw, Semi Finished and Finished SKU’s as well as two Refresh demonstrations on global MRO samples, the global HQ in the USA signed up for a full global enterprise license of both Refresh Desktop and Refresh Server.

Some factors key in the selection of Refresh™ included:

  • Success in testing match rates on own in-house data
  • Low software integration / implementation effort
  • Ease of use allowing the right people to do the job quickly
  • Deep Global International Standards experience & content
  • Fresh’s agility in customer customization of software
  • 50 000 strong noun-modifier dictionary - multilingual
  • Pre-Built chemical dictionaries ready to use on day 1
  • Coverage of diverse spend categories including special experience with other large specialty chemicals customers
  • Raw, Semi and Finished products tagged to UNSPSC within a few weeks
  • Good references from larger customers and references from US based global companies in their own Industry
  • Practical experience in South America including customers working with NCM (Mercosur) codes / Nota Fiscal Processes

The Solution

The combined project team kick-off workshop for Refresh Desktop and Refresh Server was held at the global HQ soon after purchase. The initial scope (after all the Raw, Semi-Finished and finished SAP material masters had been done) included roughly 300 000 other SKU’s in multiple languages. The original Refresh dictionary already included an increased number of Oxford chemical noun-modifiers especially from the chemical and agricultural families; leveraging existing customers in these industries, but the global in-house purchasing team did a fantastic job to include global brand names and other localizations into the shared Refresh custom dictionary. The team also deployed Refresh Desktop in a unique and innovative local way, not just using the intranet but also SharePoint and other standard Microsoft technologies. The localizations in the custom dictionary made a suitable foundation for the standardization of so many line items, whether in Desktop in bulk, or one-by-one in live PO’s and voucher requests:

Key Business Benefits

The project continues, but the company has been using the Refresh software mainly to cleanse and tag a few hundred thousand materials across the enterprise post go-live. For the Operations teams the main benefit is simple: finding and tagging their materials easily, highlighting common purchasing trends globally, and giving procure-to-pay a solid data foundation for continuous improvement.

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