2009 Innovation Insight Awards: Rolls-Royce Energy Systems creates quote-generating "machine"

MOST INNOVATIVE PROCESS ¦ FIRST PLACE In early 2008, the sales and marketing department at Rolls-Royce Energy Systems, Inc. was struggling to keep up with customer requests for quotes on the company's oil and gas and power generation equipment. Even worse, many of the quotes that eventually went to customers contained inaccurate costing information, a situation that was eating into the com...



In early 2008, the sales and marketing department at Rolls-Royce Energy Systems, Inc. was struggling to keep up with customer requests for quotes on the company's oil and gas and power generation equipment. Even worse, many of the quotes that eventually went to customers contained inaccurate costing information, a situation that was eating into the company's profit margins.

To solve these problems, Rolls-Royce Energy developed a Web-based solution that it dubbed Product Proposal Configurator (PPC). This solution gives the sales team instant access to all of the information needed to generate quotes containing accurate cost information.

Since installing this solution in July 2008, Rolls-Royce Energy has drastically reduced the time it takes to create quotes, and has determined that it's on track to realize a ROI of more than $4.5 million on this project over the next three years. Those facts earned Rolls-Royce Energy top honors for the Most Innovative Process in MBT's 2009 Innovation Insight Award competition.

The Rolls-Royce Energy PPC system was built on top of a product configuration platform from software vendor Big Machines, Deerfield, Illinois. Its software as a service (SaaS) solution is used by manufacturers including Siemens, Kubota and Ingersoll Rand to create sophisticated sales support tools.

The Rolls-Royce Energy solution includes functionality for configuring products to customer specifications, and attaching the appropriate pricing to those configurations. It also alerts users about potential up-sell opportunities during the quote preparation process. In addition, the system has embedded workflow capabilities for routing quotes to appropriate parties within the company who need to add pertinent information or approve a quote before it goes to a customer.

With this solution, Rolls-Royce Energy can generate quotes for standard products in a matter of minutes. Proposals for custom products take two to four weeks—still far less than the seven weeks it typically took with the previous method.

This transformation was possible because the new solution contains full information on standard product structures, including cost, design specifications, commercial terms, and other proposal-specific documentation. This enables the Rolls-Royce sales team to select a standard configuration, add any required engineered options, and present an accurate proposal to the customer.

The solution also provides a standard template for all proposals, so that each submission to the customer has the same look and feel, regardless of which salesperson produced the quote.

Because the solution is Web-based, sales people are able to log in and generate quotes at any time from any location—even at a customer site—something that was impossible under the previous method. The new solution also holds all of the company's cost and proposal information in a single location, with each piece of information having a nominated 'owner' and review schedule to ensure that only the latest information is used.

In terms of labor savings, the new automated proposal process requires a single administrative support person, while the previous process required three. All told this new process is projected to:

  • Reduce Bid Support department time to produce bids, up to 5,712 hours per year;

  • Reduce Marketing department time to produce bids, up to 5,677 hours per year; and

  • Reduce engineering time, by making it easier to sell standard products, up to 13,000 hours per year.



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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

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