Lifetime Brands Cooks Up Tasty Mobile Solution

If you like to spend time in the kitchen, you understand how important it is to use quality kitchen tools. Not only does good kitchenware make you more efficient and productive, it helps you create tasty food for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

That’s why Lifetime Brands, North America’s leading resource for nationally branded kitchenware, tableware, home décor, and lifestyle products, implemented a new and revolutionary quality management solution called Lifetime QM.

”We do not want to put out any product that is not 100% safe or doesn’t function properly,” said Jeff Siegel, Chairman and CEO of Lifetime Brands, in an interview with SAP.

Real-Time Visibility into Quality

Quality assurance has always been a priority for Lifetime Brands, and with over 25 brands representing more than 16,000 products worldwide, it’s a big task. The company had to standardize, simplify, and increase control over its global factory and product inspections. Managers needed real-time visibility into any quality issues that popped up, regardless of where the factory or product was located.

“Having information in real time is tremendously important to us,” said Matthew Kamenstein, SVP of Quality Management at Lifetime Brands. “It allows us to communicate with our customers in a timely manner, as well as with our offices overseas and here in the US.”

Lifetime QM is a mobile app created to run on tablet devices. SAP Mobile Platform is used to manage the app’s deployment in the workforce and integrate it into the company’s backend SAP software systems for reporting and analytics.

A clear solution roadmap, prepared by a team of business process and mobile solution experts from Lifetime Brands and SAP Services, set the stage for a successful implementation.

Implementation consultants from Dickinson Associates and True Interaction turned the solution roadmap into reality. They built and installed the app and ensured it was ready for use throughout the company. “We put all of our different companies onto one platform in under a year’s time, staying within budget. We’ve had no issues at all,” said Clifford Siegel, EVP of Global Supply Chain at Lifetime Brands.

With Lifetime QM in hand, inspectors worldwide can easily scan product or package barcodes, check labeling, and perform many different types of product functionality and stress tests. If any issues are found, they simply take photos or videos of the defect with the tablet’s built-in camera. The device’s GPS also ensures the location of the test is recorded and accurate.

Social compliance is also very important to Lifetime Brands. Inspectors use Lifetime QM during factory inspections to ensure they are operating in a safe and ethically responsible manner. A great feature of the tool is that it dynamically adjusts the inspection checklist based on the setup and working situation at each factory. This improves the efficiency and quality of every inspection.

Fewer Defects, Better Consumer Experience

The move to Lifetime QM was welcomed by employees and the benefits to the company are many. “The transition period was pretty much overnight. One day it was paper based the next day it was in the application,” said Kamenstein.

Since going live in early 2013, Lifetime Brands has executed over 10,000 inspections using Lifetime QM and the divisions using it have seen a marked reduction in quality issues. The information required to make quicker decisions and take a smart course of action is now centralized and visible. Data transfer to headquarters, which used to take days, is now done in seconds. “In the past it used to go in the drawer and be filed away, now everyone is notified as soon as there is an issue, in real time,” said Clifford Siegel.

Reducing quality issues early in the supply chain saves Lifetime Brands both time and money. It reduces the rework required when a defective product arrives in the warehouse, cuts down returns from retailers, and results in a better consumer experience across the company’s brands and products.

Innovation is a core component of the mission at Lifetime Brands, so it’s no surprise to anyone in the company that such an industry-leading quality management solution was implemented. “We think about innovation in every aspect of our jobs,” said Christine Thatner, SVP of Data and Systems Integration at Lifetime Brands. “We make sure we are thinking outside the box and have solutions to issues.”

Lucky for us, when Lifetime Brands thinks outside the box, we get happier cooks in the kitchen and more smiles at the dinner table.

This article first appeared in SAP Business Trends.

Photos: Lifetime Brands, SAP

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