Supply Chain

GE Lighting, a Savant company, switches up its approach to supplier collaboration

Rick Stalker, SAP Technical Product Manager at GE Lighting, a Savant company, explains how the company fulfills millions of orders with help from OpenText™ Active Orders

Our journey began at the turn of the century when Thomas Edison invented the carbon filament lamp. Today, GE Lighting, a Savant company, is taking the lead in developing smart home solutions—helping customers around the world design perfectly lit spaces and smart environments to live, work, and play. 

Every year, we deliver millions of products to our customers through our partnerships with online and big-box retailers. Getting our products from the shop floor to our customers’ doorsteps depends on a carefully choreographed fulfillment process. 

Forecasting demand to deliver on time at GE Lighting

One of the most important stages in this process is forecasting. To fulfill orders on time, we must anticipate demand across all our markets and align our manufacturing and logistics to ensure we have the optimal quantity and assortment on hand. 

We produce our products with dozens of contract and original equipment manufacturers. Information from our suppliers plays a vital role in the forecasting process. For example, we need to know about any manufacturing delays quickly, as this may impact fulfilment downstream. 

Firefighting order management issues at GE Lighting

In the past, getting timely information from our suppliers was a tough challenge—and our main pain point was our previous order management tool.  

Many of our suppliers are not EDI-enabled. We used the system to enable them to share key EDI documents: purchase orders (POs), invoices, and shipping updates, among others. However, the tool was extremely slow and cumbersome to use. Our suppliers regularly ran into technical problems when uploading their data.  

Every week, our sourcing team spent hours on the phone firefighting these technical issues with our suppliers. This diverted them from other important tasks. As a result, there was often a significant delay in suppliers updating information on the system. Ultimately this reduced the accuracy of our forecasts. 

Transforming our approach with OpenText 

We looked for a new order management solution to collaborate more effectively with our dozens of trading partners. Of the four industry-leading solutions we evaluated, OpenText Active Orders stood out as the best fit for our business. 

As well as covering our entire procure-to-pay process, the OpenText solution is easy to integrate with our SAP ERP business systems—a critical requirement for us. The OpenText solution is also very responsive and user-friendly. Gone are the days of painfully long loading times. Our suppliers can instantly open the Active Orders web portal and rapidly upload their information. 

This is an image of decorative bulbs from GE Lighting.

Collaborating seamlessly with suppliers 

One of the biggest differences between our previous tool and the OpenText solution is how smoothly it runs. In the past, our sourcing team would typically field five troubleshooting calls from suppliers every week. Today, we hardly get any reports of technical issues at all. 

Every month, we send and receive more than 7,000 files via Active Orders, and our suppliers can now share information with us more quickly and easily than ever. This year alone, we’ve increased on-time PO confirmations by 2%. This translates into more timely data from our suppliers, which in turn helps us forecast more accurately and fulfill millions of orders on time. In fact, Active Orders helped increase on-time fulfillment by 10% over the last 12 months, which helps us to foster greater customer satisfaction. 

About the author 

Rick Stalker has spent his entire 20+ year career with GE Lighting, a Savant company, after graduating from The Ohio State University with a BS in Computer Science & Engineering. He has held roles supporting various business functions as an application support project leader. His current role is the IT Business Relationship Manager for Supply Chain. 

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