Established in 1914, MSA Safety Incorporated (formerly Sierra Monitor) is the global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of safety products and solutions that protect people and facility infrastructures. Many MSA products integrate a combination of electronics, software, mechanical systems and advanced materials to protect users against hazardous or life-threatening situations.
Single, integrated platform improved communications across departments
Training app provides easy access to guidelines and tracks adherence
Remote access to product and quality data and processes throughout entire supply chain
MSA Safety, based in California, is an industrial manufacturing company that develops systems for facility automation and safety. It manufactures flame and gas detectors as well as gateways for building automation. Sierra Monitor aims to make buildings smarter and more efficient by enabling a building’s mechanical apparatus and instrumentation to monitor and manage lighting, heating, and electrical functions. Because of this technology, Sierra Monitor is at the forefront of IoT (Internet of Things) for its respective industries.
Like many organizations, Sierra Monitor’s back-end systems consisted of different platforms and various shared folders dispersed across operations, engineering, sales, and marketing. This led to mismanaged information, longer launch cycles, missed opportunities, and unnecessary or lengthy meetings due to miscommunication. Because of their various technologies, employees needed to rely on manual methods of data exchange, including sneakerneting or the sharing of USB drives, to facilitate cross-functional business processes.
As the company began to scale, Michael Farr, Sierra Monitor’s Vice President of Operations, realized the arising need to consolidate these disparate systems onto a cloud-based solution that would benefit them as they matured as a company.
“We decided early on that it made sense to move everything onto one, single platform. We looked at Salesforce for a PLM solution as people became more comfortable with working in the cloud and having all resources in the cloud. It just made sense for us to find a solution built on our existing technology.”
Sierra Monitor chose Propel, as their preferred product lifecycle management (PLM) solution to drive greater productivity, efficiency and visibility across their organization. Because Propel is built on Salesforce, the only product success solution built on the top-rated cloud platform, they were able to leverage their team’s existing knowledge of the tool while also connecting all their customer records and product records into a single system. Sierra Monitor moved its disparate systems, functions, and processes into a single, integrated environment all built on the cloud. “Because Propel is built on Salesforce, it was a logical approach to move all our information to their platform,” said Farr.
“The return on investment was immediate. Processes that used to take months, now were literally taking days to accomplish and the communication across teams has been incredible,” said Farr.
With Propel, team members can store and discuss product updates, engineering change orders, supplier updates, and more in a central repository enabling them to more efficiently search, access, and manage their product information. Because of the connectivity that Propel provides, Sierra Monitor no longer has to track down or search for information across multiple platforms. Propel promotes and enables collaboration across stakeholders, departments, suppliers, and third-parties.
“The supplier evaluation process has greatly improved with Propel. We have key suppliers fabricating products to our design and we need to qualify those suppliers and keep track of them in an organized manner. With Propel we can manage supplier corrective actions, supplier tracking and analyses while relating all of those documents to each other and to the supplier. It’s fantastic,” added Farr.
During the COVID-19 pandemic with travel completely shutdown, Sierra Monitor was able to use Propel to seamlessly communicate with suppliers remotely. Instead of email chains, Sierra Monitor communicated all updates and changes to their suppliers across the world in just a few clicks.
“Our suppliers have access to the appropriate bill of materials (BOMs) and assembly drawings needed to produce our products. They are able to pose questions inside the platform as they arise. It’s made everything easier for us to manage,” added Farr.
Due to the flexibility of the platform, Sierra Monitor was able to customize Propel to ensure their suppliers were well-supported and well-informed.
PULL QUOTE: “We don’t have to worry about outages, backing up data, we’ve lowered IT costs... we can access it from anywhere. It’s a no-brainer to move into the cloud.”Michael Farr, VP of Operations, Sierra Monitor
“We set up workflows so we are less likely to make mistakes. Our suppliers have easier access to training programs, training assignments, corporate procedures, and safety procedures now,” said Farr.
Prior to Propel, Sierra Monitor had to rely on classroom training for their suppliers. “With Propel, it’s all self-guided. With the tools and ease of access, it can be done any time, anywhere,” added Farr. Equipping their suppliers with better, more engaging tools has increased productivity and aided in better collaboration across time zones and product lines.
As they continued to grow, Sierra Monitor needed to ensure their PLM solution would grow with them and not require a complete overhaul after a few years of use. They needed a tool that would evolve with them or be able to handle any situation, whether it be economical, societal, or otherwise.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sierra Monitor adapted Propel to fit the current safety protocols implemented in their local county. They utilized Propel’s training records feature to ensure employees are quickly trained on critical, time-sensitive updates such as rapidly evolving COVID-19 safety protocols. Within Propel, employees can easily access and complete training from any browser, allowing companies to assign training plans to teams across the globe. Sierra Monitor can assign site-specific and role-specific requirements if needed, ensuring compliance with all local regulations and safety policies, especially crucial during the shelter-in-place orders for their headquarters in Santa Clara County, California.
“Like many organizations, COVID-19 presented new challenges for our company and our employees,” said Farr. “With Propel Training Records, we were able to develop comprehensive employee training plans to meet county and city requirements in order for our workforce to safely return to work. Propel enables us to stay efficient and flexible as we navigate the current climate.”
Propel’s Training Records eliminates time spent on manually distributing and auditing training assignments using email or shared files. Sierra Mon-itor is able to improve employee safety by immediately issuing training for new safety regulations as conditions evolve.
From headcount growth to expanding product lines, Sierra Monitor needed to ensure their product success platform was easy-to-learn for any incoming or existing employees. Because of the intuitive and easy-to-use nature of the Propel platform, Sierra Monitor’s engineers are able to quickly master the Propel environment.
“We had an engineer with no prior experience using PLM tools come in and pick up Propel right away,” said Farr. “Our employees are able to quickly and efficiently streamline processes, manage releases, and share product enhancements.
”Propel has afforded Sierra Monitor the stability they need in order for their business to be successful long term. The platform’s ease of use coupled with data management and accessibility has benefited the company’s bottom line as well as their piece of mind.
“We don’t have to worry about outages or backing up data. With Propel we’ve lowered IT costs in terms of managing servers or disaster recovery. Thanks to Propel, we can access our product information from anywhere.”
Propel has enabled Sierra Monitor to consolidate processes, and functions into a single, integrated solution built on the Salesforce platform. Propel’s product success platform seamlessly connects all product, cus-tomer, quality, and service records to provide a true closed feedback loop that helps companies like Sierra Monitor get products to market faster, maximize customer satisfaction, and comply with all regulatory agencies. Because of the flexible, easy-to-use, integrated platform, Sierra Monitor is equipped for growth, even in the midst of a rapidly changing, intensely challenging business environment.
PULL QUOTE: “We have grown our business so much over the last 20 plus years and, as we continue to add to that growth, we are seeing how Propel will continue to adapt to fit our needs.”Michael Farr, VP of Operations, Sierra Monitor
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