Sitting in your office, sipping coffee and checking all the products digitally before buying has now become a reality. This is undeniably cool! A view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are amplified digitally by a camera. The technology looks impressive.
But what motivated Century Plyboards to cash in on this idea?
One of the most established sellers of decorative veneers, Century Plyboards didn’t have a rosy picture. The distributors had to come all the way to Kolkata to inspect the product, assess the timber, and then place the order. “The company had to bear the cost of transportation and accommodation of the distributors, if more than 500 sheets were ordered,” says Sabyasachi Ch. Thakur, GM, SAP and IT, Century Plyboards. “It was becoming really expensive for us to look after them.”
Considering all the problems at hand, Century Plyboards decided to automate the inspection process and increase the monthly sales of timber. A digital veneer lounge was set up. “The inspection process was automated where a salesperson, with the help of a high resolution camera, demonstrated the veneer samples online to the distributors in any location in India,” says Thakur.
So, how do the dealers inspect and choose a veneer of their choice from any location? “At the factory in Kolkata, three cameras–one operational and two on standby—run on a software, connected to Dell Optiplex CPU,” explains Thakur. The camera captures and stores the details, and is connected to the firewall.
Consider this: A dealer in Mumbai wishes to see the grains in samples, the colour and depth of the product. With the help of a user name and password, the salesperson logs in, and shows the dealer samples of the product from all possible angles by operating the camera. The salesperson can zoom and focus on the samples, thus helping the dealer to have a full visibility of the product. At the same time, there is a person at the factory showcasing the demo.
The IT team collaborates with the business team and works in unison to install the hardware, testing it, and training the user.
One of the major benefits from the implementation of the project is that there has been a reduction in the inspection cost. “The total inspection cost has been reduced by 30 percent. Our objective is to reduce it to a further 80 percent in the next two years.” The order to cash cycle (OTC)—time from enquiry to order—has been drastically reduced by five days.
With the implementation of the project, Century Plyboards has reaped handsome dividends. “In December 2013, the monthly sales inched towards 1000 sheets amounting to Rs 50 lakh and today, it has touched 5000, costing Rs 2.5 crore. Due to reduction in inspection, the overall sales has escalated,” says Thakur.
The overall cost of the project was Rs 60 lakh and was completed in August 2013. This is indeed a feather in the cap for Century Plyboards.
The inspection process was automated where a salesperson, with the help of a high resolution camera, demonstrated the veneer samples online to the distributors in any location in India