Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as a blog in Forbes on March 21, 2012. It is republished here with permission of the author.
Before Mark Shaver became Chief Information officer for Joy Global, a $4.5 billion leader in high-productivity mining solutions, he literally spent 20 years underground.
As a service engineer, Shaver demonstrated how to operate the Joy equipment product line, around the clock, amidst common hazards in coal mining such as gas explosions, fire, or roof collapse.
“The job obviously demands that discipline to safety processes are adhered to,” said Shaver. “When you are miles underground at the mining face, your hope is that everyone around you is disciplined to the processes assigned to them.”
Shaver says his time served in this role shaped his view of what it means to deliver real service. A proactive approach to service meant the equipment remained productive and able to mine coal. A reactive service view only produced challenges. Shaver believes the same is true with most every industry.
“One must always be contemplating excellence in service that delivers the highest return.”
A Turning Point
Following his stint providing service on Joy Global’s equipment, Shaver dabbled in sales, IT implementations and global processes. A turning point in his career came in the form of Director of Operations Australasia, where Shaver embraced the discipline of the company’s SAP systems to transform activities on the shop floor instead of adopting work arounds. It was exactly the type of across-the-board discipline that kick-started Joy Global’s desire to graduate from being good to great, as outlined by Mike Sutherlin, CEO of Joy Global. In the last 10 years, Sutherlin and his senior leadership team have achieved an organic CAGR of 17% while operating margin went up by a multiple of 26, and EPS is 48 times higher.
As a result, Shaver was earmarked as the one to transform the company’s IT group from an IT service provider to a first-rate organization aimed at delivering cutting edge business solutions.
Taking Care of Global Business
Joy Global’s products and services are used extensively for the mining of coal, copper, iron ore, oil sands, hard rock, gold and other embedded mineral resources. And as its name implies, Joy Global is truly global. More than 50% of its sales revenues reside outside North America – and so do more than half of its employees. This highly de-centralized, global business brings a unique set of challenges for a CIO like Shaver who is driving company-wide standardization. Enter the Joy Business System, designed as the company’s premier vehicle to deliver excellent customer service.
Like many other businesses, making the optimal amount of inventory at the right time is a key enabler to Joy Global’s profitability. One of the most important metrics for excellence in service is on-time delivery of equipment and repair parts. Forecasting, capacity planning, supply-chain collaboration, or precise production control by themselves can enable excellence in service. However, Joy Global management was eager to gain real-time visibility of current production needs rather than just reports on the outcome. SAP BusinessObjects now enables the company to show graphical compliance, trends and progress on various metrics. Queries provide the capability to create fast running reports and drill down capabilities. Broadcasting provides the ability to schedule and automatically run and send reports and graphs via e-mail to internal and external recipients.
The Embedded Enterprise
With over 14,500 employees, change doesn’t come easy at Joy Global especially when aiming to improve safety, increase production and reduce costs across 126 locations in 20 countries. But Shaver’s lack of an IT background continues to make all the difference. Another case in point: instead of treating IT as a siloed cost or service center, his approach is to “embed” IT into manufacturing – and to some extent, the cultural fabric across Joy Global.
“We’re not waiting for the business to contact us,” said Shaver. “We’re being proactive and running IT as an internal business enterprise that delivers solutions. This model requires an accountability structure with managers leading from the front. They take full accountability for a full process even if not all the IT resources are direct reports.”
Under this model, a leader from IT is “invited” to participate in the holistic business opportunity not just the technical, an attribute also evident in Joy Global’s Smart Services. The IT department works hand in hand with the service team to enable monitoring of mining equipment in the field by one of Joy’s many Smart Services centers. Some systems monitor real time data of how equipment is performing that is fed to one of Smart Services Centers, for instance. “We can act immediately on any opportunities that will make our equipment even more productive with our on-site service team,” said Shaver.
Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast
Shaver knows that tangible metrics will continue to drive change. That’s why Joy Global’s Global Business Solutions (GBS), department leverages the company’s entire IT footprint to enable incremental productivity enhancements around areas such as “discipline to process”, “business health” and “manufacturing excellence”. Data is entered by an employee doing their normal job in many cases. A production control person must update the service jobs to do their capacity planning. This same data is used to show “health” of the entire job. Digital signage throughout Joy Global’s facilities display the health of these areas in red, yellow, or green status according to how the region, plant, or work cell is performing in the very near future.
“Our employees are embracing the operational excellence initiatives that provide our lean environment methodology,” said Shaver.
While Shaver values his partnership with SAP, believing it has helped Joy Global transform from a good manufacturer to a great one, he still abides by a valuable lesson learned deep underground to help guide his vision for the company: discipline to process.
“When miles underground in a hazardous environment, the operator, roof bolter, electrician, or section boss all must do their part of the process – or the light of day will not be seen again.”
Joy Global considers the broader interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of its company’s activities. Learn more about its views on Social Responsibility.