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Open-source digital process automation gave Hyster-Yale just the lift it needed

Open-source digital process automation gave Hyster-Yale just the lift it needed

Case StudiesManufacturingSoftwareTop Stories

Hyster-Yale, a global manufacturer of lift trucks, has deployed an open-source digital process automation platform from Evoke Technologies for faster critical process delivery and easier manageability. Gidu Sriram, Director of IT Integration and Global Product Development Systems at Hyster-Yale Group, talks us through the project.

You’ve probably seen its yellow forklifts at the local building supply store: Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. is a global manufacturer of lift trucks and has been a part of the American landscape for over 80 years.

Gidu Sriram, Director of IT Integration and Global Product Development Systems at Hyster-Yale Group

But as a modern, process-driven manufacturer, Hyster-Yale found themselves facing the need to update its process automation technology to keep its engineering process orders moving – and to automate and modernize many more of its processes that keep the design, manufacturing and delivery lines humming.

Heavy manufacturing needs a lighter automation solution

The objective: shift from an out-of-support, heavy, proprietary BPM platform to a more flexible, open-source digital process automation platform for faster critical process delivery and easier manageability.

The desired outcome: eliminate delays and penalties on its manufacturing processes due to process interruptions caused by such common issues as out-of-office personnel and inefficient escalation of issues requiring urgent attention. Parallel review and approval tasks and automatic delegations should be in place. And looking forward, the Hyster-Yale IT team saw more processes waiting to be delivered across the enterprise using the same platform.

Strategic partnerships bring strong technology and key expertise for success

Hyster-Yale’s digital automation project was the result of a strategic partnership between Hyster-Yale and Ohio-based Evoke Technologies, a global Information Technology services company with deep experience in delivering automation solutions.
When Evoke experts arrived on the scene, Hyster-Yale was already using a well-known proprietary BPM (Business Process Management) platform that had proven to be inflexible and was approaching out-of-support status.

A BPM platform is software that drives any kind of business process from its start through to completion, combining people-managed tasks that require user interfaces (usually through specialized web forms) with machine-managed tasks (like input and output for inventory, personnel databases, computer managed equipment) at each step of the process.

Generally, the more open the platform, the more flexible it is in terms of what it can integrate with, how its user interfaces can be customized, and how easy it is to make changes as the other technologies it is integrated with evolve and change.

Hyster-Yale’s goal was to get its BPM processes running on a flexible platform that they could continue to develop and manage processes on without extensive outside help and use it to shift more of its manual and partially automated processes to be fully automated.

For the IT team, open-source plus low code allows the necessary ‘tinkering with the technology’

On the previous BPM platform, there were failed tasks in the Engineering Change Order process every day. The system administrator had to manually monitor and restart them to keep the process moving – not ideal for current or future process automation, and not ideal for the system administrator either.

The Hyster-Yale IT team even considered creating a tool themselves before its Evoke consultant proposed a solution that was a lot simpler, easier to manage and could be managed by a third-party partner as a service. They decided to move its Engineering Change Order process to the Bonita open-source process automation platform.

The Evoke/Hyster-Yale team used the low-code tools and flexible integration environment to develop and release the Change Order process in four months from start to finish. Today, with the Bonita platform in place, it has the capability to create complete, new applications within eight to 10 weeks. The overall development effort is reduced by 50% using these low code, open tools. Further, they have been able to reduce their software and maintenance costs compared to what they were spending on their initial, big-name, proprietary BPM solution.

With the implementation of Bonita the need to manually monitor and manage failed tasks went away overnight.

Today, Hyster-Yale is efficiently processing 600-700 engineering changes a month. It has now fully automated two additional processes and is continuing the automation push across the company.

The open-source digital process automation platform replacement gave Hyster-Yale just the lift this innovative manufacturer needed.

Adam Korzeniowski, Evoke Technologies, said: “Success comes from being able to find the right solution for the right business challenge.

“In the case of Hyster-Yale, Bonita was the right choice for a technology platform to help them address their business challenge.

“Evoke Technologies was the right partner to help with the implementation.”

We asked John Bartho, CIO at Hyster-Yale Group, further questions about the project.

John Bartho, CIO at Hyster-Yale Group

What were the main reasons behind your need to update the company’s process automation technology?

The previous BPM tool was expensive when compared to results achieved in engineering operations.

The tool was unstable and it was impacting the productivity of engineering operations.

We chose Bonita as the right fit due to its open-source and extensibility nature to upgrade our automation technology.

How was Evoke Technologies able to help with this?

Evoke Technologies with its vast experience in implementing Bonita solutions was able to customize the Bonita platform as per our engineering process needs.

How has the Bonita platform created (a) more flexibility, (b) faster critical process delivery and (c) easier manageability for the company?

The Bonita platform with its open-source technology allowed us to customize the dashboards to different process stakeholders.

The runtime deployment architecture allowed us to deploy the process changes on our LIVE system without downtime.

The intuitive Bonita portal allows both technical users and non-technical users to handle the operations easily.

Can you explain how the Bonita platform has allowed the company to automate manual and partially automated processes?

The Bonita platform with its robust workflow engine allowed automation of complex multi-level approval processes.

We used the open-source UI framework to design the complex UI forms.

Custom REST API extensions allowed the solution to publish the workflow objects to external systems.

What are the results of being able to create complete new applications within eight to 10 weeks?

End-to-end process automation of change order lifecycle has improved the efficiency of the Engineering Department significantly.

Why did you choose to work with the provider?

As per our enterprise strategy, we focus on our engineering technology and leverage external vendors for all our IT implementations.

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