Gillig was founded over 115 years ago, in San Francisco, for the purpose of modifying and building buggies and carriages - the main mode of transportation at that time. Today, Gillig only builds heavy-duty transit buses. They come in different lengths and in two basic models. The company is the second largest maker of transit buses in North America, producing around 1,300 buses per year for hundreds of customers from Alaska to Florida.
Gillig’s parts division had been growing dramatically and finally outgrew its legacy IT system. “We had several issues, particularly in our accounts payable and our antiquated warehouse management system,” explained Chuck O’Brien, Vice President. For example, the company found they had to print stacks of reports to be distributed to Purchasing personnel. They were doing their forecasts manually. In addition, system response time was slow and the company needed to pick up productivity and get its inventory forecasting more accurate.
Integration a key issue
Gillig’s exhaustive search of different software vendors found that IBS Enterprise was the best out-of-the-box software solution they saw. “There were several things we liked about IBS Enterprise,” says O’Brien, “in particular the integration. We found that there were a lot of packages out there that had a good sales order entry system and a good purchasing system, but they had a third-party, bolt-on warehouse system. Or other packages that were primary warehouse. We have a full company to run and we wanted a software package that could integrate the whole business very efficiently.” Another thing the company noticed was that, in addition to meeting its present needs, IBS Enterprise could also help with growth by offering additional features such as e-commerce, integration with Lotus Domino and multi-warehouse capability.
Gillig purchased and implemented all the core modules that IBS offered from sales order management. “The implementation was terrific,” remarks O’Brien. “We got a crew of very talented people that came in. The IBS team went through and helped us figure out how to tailor the software to fit our business. That process took about six months as we were trying to figure out how to best use the software and to improve our business at the same time.
We had the talent that we needed from IBS and from our side we were able to examine our business process and to make improvements along the way.” Gillig buses are highly regarded by the U.S. transit industry. The company is focused on satisfying customers and delivering its promises. Focused business software like IBS Enterprise running on the IBM System i and DB2 Database helps Gillig to stay ahead of the competition and generate increased profit.
Gillig found that several areas were impacted positively by IBS. The sales order entry system, which provides good visibility to see what customers have done in the past and whether ordering was on backorder, has led to a big improvement in customer service. On the purchasing side, Gillig became paperless. Buyers are now able to view recommendations from the system and place orders based on forecast and on sales orders that are already in the system. They are now able to confirm the orders, convert them to purchase orders, and fax them to a vendor, all without ever printing a page. “This has been a big timesaver for us,” O’Brien remarks. On the warehouse side, the IBS warehouse management system integrates through remote radio frequency (RF) devices. This allows pickers and put-away warehouse workers, operating in real time, to process transactions as they are going through the warehouse instead of in a batch mode afterwards.
“The reporting out of IBS Enterprise has been terrific,” O’Brien explains. “We use it in several different ways and to view key performance indicators (KPIs) every day to run our business. In addition, we use ad hoc reporting, and the ease of use to mine that data really helps us run our business efficiently and creatively.”
“IBS Enterprise has paid for itself in many different ways,” explains O’Brien. “The solution has helped us keep our inventory in control and helped us grow by 75 percent without a significant increase in inventory levels. In addition, in terms of manpower, throughout the organization, if you look at sales, purchasing, warehouse and management, our growth in staff is relatively minor compared to our dramatic increase in sales. So the Return On Investment (ROI) is there, but more important than anything is the customer service. Our business is all about taking care of our customers. Because of IBS Enterprise we have been able to provide our customers better service than we had before, retaining them and helping us grow our business.”
With strong federal support and a growing need to reduce traffic emissions and increase rider numbers, the future looks strong for public transit. With IBS Enterprise in place and with the right customer focus, the right products as well as the company’s continued high level of performance, Gillig’s buses are ready to roll.