Alberto Quevedo needs no convincing of the benefits of an integrated system landscape – Cosentino’s young CIO is fully immersed in one every day: “We swear by networking, and we’ve automated all of our processes,” he says enthusiastically. From planning and production through to sales and distribution, all the company’s business processes are linked together via SAP solutions.
Cosentino processes natural stones, such as quartz and granite, and manufactures its own patented product, Silestone, a nonporous, antibacterial quartz composite. In the decade before the current economic slump, the company returned two-digit growth figures year for year and expanded across the world, establishing factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and retail outlets on four continents. Its main markets are Europe and the United States, but its products are also popular in countries such as Dubai and Australia.
Worldwide logistics network under control
Cosentino’s production facilities are located in the Andalusian province of Almeria. Three lines manufacture Silestone, one processes marble, and a fifth develops special products. From Almeria, Cosentino products are transported to its European distribution centers. The company also operates processing plants in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., and Sweden. It draws its supplies of natural stone from fourteen mines in southern Spain, and also mines for granite in Brazil. In its most recent business move, Cosentino extended its warehouse network in China to better serve the emerging market there.
At its European locations, Cosentino already works with SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, SAP Customer Relationship Management, and SAP ERP Human Capital Management. The other countries with sales operations are due to follow suit in the near future.
Talking to machines
Two years ago, Cosentino became the first Spanish enterprise to implement SAP Manufacturing Integration & Intelligence (SAP MII). This middleware solution links up the company’s production facilities to its business systems. Information about orders, materials, costs, and product quality is available in real time, empowering the company to turn ideas into products and processes faster, meet customer wishes more easily, and respond immediately to fluctuations in demand. Quevedo says: “SAP MII automates data exchange between the SAP ERP system and the factory floor. So in a way, we can speak to our machines.“
Previously, employees in production had to feed large quantities of data into the machines by hand. “They were basically operating blind,” Quevedo summarizes the situation. Today, SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization (SAP APO) displays orders from the planning department on screen so that the machine operators know exactly what they have to do when they begin their shift. The Spanish company wants to use the SAP APO solution package to optimize every aspect of its planning operations.
Based on the motto “planning is good, control is better,” CIO Quevedo has also opted to implement SAP NetWeaver Business Process Management (BPM). This software will enable Cosentino to synchronize all of its planning, blueprint, design, manufacturing, maintenance, and tracking processes. The group is currently working to record its processes systematically and incorporate them into the IT infrastructure. Thanks to SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer, Quevedo can do this without writing a single line of program code.
He is very enthusiastic about the modeling environment: “It lets us develop functions quickly and easily. We can also display several SAP applications, such as SAP Business Information Warehouse and SAP Customer Relationship Management, on screen simultaneously and see an entire process chain, including all of its interconnections.“ Cosentino’s head of IT particularly appreciates the service-oriented architecture of the SAP software: “I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. I simply map new processes by recombining the business logic via Web services. This reduces our programming effort significantly.”
Close to the customer
Implemented at the Spanish headquarters a year ago, SAP CRM has also proven to be a valuable asset. “The quality of our customer service has improved. We now know exactly what is happening on the sales side, and we are making more use of information from the market environment, ”says Quevedo. By analyzing customer calls, for example, Cosentino can identify potential sales opportunities. “In the past, we only received information of this kind sporadically. Now, I can give the executive board up-to-the-minute information whenever they need it to help them make business decisions.”
At Cosentino, SAP software does more than just integrate the internal sales process and monitor deadlines. The SAP NetWeaver platform also allows data to be exchanged with suppliers and customers. The system’s service-oriented architecture makes it easy to integrate partner solutions, such as Saperion’s electronic invoice receipt processing product.
The next item on Quevedo’s agenda involves linking up Cosentino’s field personnel to the system so that they can access SAP CRM via a mobile device. They will then be able to process customer data and plan their routes when they are out of the office. To improve the company’s call-center services, the CIO also wants to integrate customer inquiries with the SAP Business Communications Management Internet protocol solution. Thanks to caller recognition technology, call-center agents will then be able to access the entire customer history of a caller and provide detailed information. That means shorter waiting times for customers and faster responses to their inquiries.
“My team sometimes groans when I come along with another new solution,” admits Quevedo with a smile. “But I know they are proud to be working with the latest technology and to be playing a pioneering role in our industry.”
Cosentino makes kitchen and bathroom surfaces from natural stone and quartz. Its largest market is for Silestone, an internally developed quartz composite manufactured at company headquarters in Cantoria, in the Andalusian province of Almeria. Cosentino operates a global network of subsidiaries.