in Vol. 20 - May Issue - Year 2019
Sharing Best Practices Across the Company and Around the World Perspectives
Pangborn RotoDrum® Shot Blast System
Pangborn Genesis® Wheel
Pangborn Genesis® Wheel Section View
Pangborn is dedicated to providing superior shot-blasting equipment and surface preparation solutions to thousands of customers across a variety of industries. The diversity and flexibility of our solutions enable us to serve customers who are looking for comprehensive turn-key solutions, as well as those who have very specific, a la carte needs. Working closely with each customer, our sales, engineering, and service teams design best-in-class solutions that help our customers drive operational excellence and realize improved total cost of ownership and increased profitability. We are more than just another supplier; we are a trusted partner and brand. With offices and support personnel located across the globe, we bring 146 years of experience and expertise to key markets and customers worldwide.
Certifications. Standards. Best practices. Associations and organizations across the globe exist solely to help companies work better, faster, and smarter. The globally-recognized International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is one such organization. ISO creates documents that provide specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose. According to their website, ISO has published 22,559 international standards and related documents that impact everyone, everywhere; covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. The manufacturing industry (like many others) is home to numerous certifications that help enhance a professional’s credentials, demonstrate professional commitment to one’s field or specialty, and improve one’s skillset. Best practices are closely connected to standards and certifications. A "best practice" in the business world is characteristically linked to better outcomes, such as faster time to market, increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and lower costs. For global brand Pangborn®, with offices and support personnel located across the globe, successfully sharing best practices throughout the company is often the difference between success and failure in an increasingly complex, competitive, global marketplace moving at break-neck speed.
Pangborn brings 146 years of experience and expertise to customers worldwide. Like many companies, Pangborn has grown organically and through strategic mergers and acquisitions. It doesn’t matter whether you work in Engineering, Supply Chain, Sales, or Service; it is vital for us to be a trusted partner and brand to our customers and suppliers. Sharing best practices across the company and around the world is fundamental to ensuring that all of Pangborn’s customers, regardless of their industry, where they are located, or where they go to market, receive the highest standard of shot-blasting equipment and surface-preparation solutions possible. As is often the case with the obvious, it’s easier said than done.
Challenges to Sharing Best Practices
Cultures, languages, and time zones are the most obvious and understandable challenges for global businesses like Pangborn, making it more difficult to share best practices. In addition, there are other, often more subtle, yet compelling, disruptors, including different, separate, and incompatible systems and technology. Several years ago, Pangborn acquired additional blast equipment manufacturers in Europe. Each company had many years of experience designing and building equipment in their industry and they were faced with the challenge of combining the group into an effective team. Pangborn first step was to evaluate their design and technology systems. They methodically decided which design platform would become their standard based on criteria agreed upon by the group. By ensuring that all their drawings, whether in metric or imperial, would be in English or dual-language, with English as one of the languages, their designs became "shareable."
Companies without a coherent and collective strategy will find it very tough to develop and implement formal or informal knowledge sharing programs. Pangborn used to be a collection of independent entities. Today, they are well on their way to becoming a unified, global company that leverages strengths from all areas of the business. Pangborn's cohesive strategy, plans, and objectives remain flexible enough to accommodate unique business unit and marketplace differences. This has motivated employees to reach across departments, cultures, language barriers, geographic boundaries, and time zones to share ideas, expertise, and best practices.
Designing and developing the most sophisticated state of the art technology, products, and solutions can take years of research, testing and benchmarking, and resources – both man-hours and budget. Many of our products are supplied and used across different markets and geographies. Several years ago, Pangborn released the Genesis wheel, what was then (and remains) a revolutionary new wheel that offers significant savings and competitive advantages to our customers. The technology had been developed and launched in the U.S., and it made perfect sense for them to do the same in Europe. But best practices don’t necessarily transfer well between cultures. Even though the European team was enthusiastic and highly motivated to integrate the Genesis wheel technology into their efforts, there were barriers that the U.S. had not anticipated. Rather than rejecting the technology, the U.S. and European teams were given the freedom to work collaboratively to address the barriers, adapt the technology to the European marketplace, and make sure key elements weren’t lost in translation. Overall, they were very quickly able to integrate the Genesis wheel technology into the specifications for machines developed in Europe, significantly reducing our time-to-market in Europe and ensuring that their customers in both geographies were able to realize the optimal design and business benefits of the Genesis wheel.
The Role of the Customer
When leadership teams first begin thinking about enhancing collaboration and best practice sharing, their focus is often internal. All of them have experienced the frustrations of internal departmental silos (let alone the previously mentioned challenges of different cultures, languages, and time zones) and the inefficiencies and aggravations they can bring to our daily work. It makes sense to focus on fixing our own house before looking at someone else’s. At Pangborn, they take another approach: outside-in. they start with the customer – understanding each customers’ unique business opportunities and challenges. When you partner with Pangborn, their team members are an extension of your team and are committed to your success. They know that "good customer service" is a given, as are shot-blast solutions that are easy to maintain and operate, and are safe, reliable, and durable. They use every point of customer interaction – engineering, sales, service, and even procurement, to make sure they have a shared understanding of their customers’ problems, needs, and desires. Understanding and identifying with their customers in this way helps them to innovate faster to solve customer problems; such was the case with the Genesis wheel. Their customers needed a flexible, robust, easy-to-maintain wheel with improved parts life. After partnering with several customers from a variety of industries, they designed a wheel with multiple innovative features and the added benefit of significantly increased parts life.
Identifying best practices that are external to Pangborn helps us learn different and better ways to continuously improve. Integral to their outside-in approach is developing a thorough understanding of the markets they serve. Their engineers have the benefit of pulling designs, or portions of designs, from 146 years of past successes. And yet, it is vital for them to learn more about their competitors, their own competitive advantage, and the marketplace economics in which Pangborn must differentiate itself. Researching and monitoring companies and competitors in a variety of industries and countries ensures we bring an informed, insightful, and holistic perspective to Pangborn’s product innovation efforts.
Developing new technology without applying best practices can lead to missing an opportunity in a given region, launching a new technology that is too close to an existing design, and/or spending time and money on equipment and solutions that don’t offer any additional value to the customer. Pangborn owe it to their customers to learn as much about their business as they can. After all, like them, their customers are on the front lines of their business every day, working to achieve challenging goals and meet "can’t miss" deadlines. The Pangborn® Customer Technology Center, maintained at their headquarters in Fairburn, Georgia, is a multi-million-dollar facility composed of equipment specifically designed for testing a variety of applications including: foundry, descaling, shot peening, plastic, metal, and rubber deflashing. Highly trained Pangborn engineers and technicians operate the Center, and it is available to Pangborn customers for demonstrations and testing of their work. At the Center, customers and Pangborn experts work hand-in-hand to address current problems and anticipate those that might present in the future. The benefits of working together are extraordinary. Business today is all about 24-7 connectivity, multiple purchase channels, and global supply chains. On their own, each of these present challenges for their customers’ business, as well as their own. Together they can quickly become overwhelming, resulting in functional silos, limited knowledge sharing, and key, strategic decisions being made based on incomplete information. Pangborn has found that there is significant value to their customer’s business and their own that comes from sharing best practices across the company.