Smartsheet helps HIT Holz increase productivity and benefit from the growing trend towards eCommerce
Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)
Smartsheet is essential to our work now, and it’s saved us over 1,000 hours so far. We've learned so much since we started using it, not only about how our business works best, but about technology in general.
Program Manager at HIT HOLZ
Founded in 1999, HIT Holz is Europe's largest manufacturer of Euro pallets, one of Germany's largest sawmills and one of Germany's most important producers of biofuels, with a turnover of more than €200 million. Located in the town of Torgau in north-west Saxony, they process more than 1.1 million solid cubic metres of wood a year into pallets and other wood products such as sawn timber, pellets and briquettes. These materials are used by thousands of factories around the world, giving manufacturers confidence in the longevity of their materials.
In recent years, HIT has invested more than 20 million euros in high-tech and fully integrated production processes, after its rapid growth created demand for better infrastructure. These encompass all stages of value creation, from raw wood procurement to the production and delivery of pallets and other wood products. As an organisation with forward-thinking teams, they knew work management was key to the success of these processes and production changes. They looked for software to help boost their efficiency, and Smartsheet soon became a key component of their evolution journey.
An urgent need for an effective system
Investment Manager Thassilo König responded to the call for a company-wide project tracking and management system. Until then, strategy development meant putting pen to paper or tracking progress on lengthy Excel spreadsheets - the company didn't even have a planning system.
The five-man project management team and the C-suite wanted an integrated system that could help them direct tasks within the factory - not just report on results - and then add actionable details at the lowest possible level. The system would also need to give them an overview of what was happening in the business, help them assess the duration and budget of ongoing projects, and regularly update these figures with the latest information.
It also uses Dynamic View, a feature that allows business owners to share information with groups of employees. It manages critical processes with suppliers and can accommodate both internal and external teams, while maintaining security and making collaboration easy.
In addition, HIT was given the ambitious task of meeting the growing demands of global shipping. With e-commerce booming, the company aims to increase its productivity to meet these new levels of mass transportation, opening up exciting opportunities to make online shopping more accessible and reliable than ever before.
Capacity doubled with help from Smartsheet
König started HIT’s Smartsheet journey with an intake of 200 sub projects on Smartsheet, a number that has almost doubled now. With the help of platinum Smartsheet solutions partner, AMX, he quickly built a dashboard, implemented some standardised tools, and established workflows, which were personalised to the company. And to help the workforce adapt to these new digital changes, König began leading bi-weekly workshops demonstrating how the factory floor can leverage its tools and processes for their projects.
Sometimes people need a little bit of time to get used to Smartsheet, but the workshops make it easy. Even people with no IT knowledge can use it - and most people have no problems at all.
Senior Solutions Consultant
At HIT, the first applications of Smartsheet supported procurement, tracking employee requests for laptops, desks or even machines. The solution quickly processed these requests through three levels of approval, using automation to alert the appropriate team members in a timely manner. The effectiveness of this process encouraged HIT to implement new areas of use. As awareness grew, so did usage. A variety of tasks were migrated to Smartsheet, and the use cases "exploded" from there, according to Hetemi. She says this is partly due to König's management and the partnership they were able to build, which ensured a smooth feedback process and led to better solutions:
I really liked how this journey took place -- it was very smooth and things went very fast as a result. Once we discovered a new use case, we would sit together for a couple of hours and then we would build what we needed.
Senior Solutions Consultant
The AMX sessions have been so useful. It's crazy how fast you can build standardised programs this way. We’re now building a prototype of each question that arises in our company. Although we currently have 40 licences, we’re teaching them how to use [Smartsheet] and it’s multiplying
Program Manager at HIT HOLZ
Ultimate visibility across complex, ever-evolving project needs
HIT's project management team has become closely integrated with its workforce, proactively guarding against potential roadblocks and addressing issues as they arise. Using Smartsheet's Control Center, König and his colleagues can project the trajectory of more complex initiatives and monitor the various segments according to their respective monitoring needs.
König notes, "This feature provides clarity on key issues such as the duration of the project, the number of weeks we need to devote to it, and the financial commitment involved. It also minimises operational risks by allowing HIT to homogenise project execution through automation. This simplification and ease facilitates programme security and frees up staff time that would otherwise be consumed by manual processes.
As a traditional manufacturing company with an eye on digital advancement, HIT HOLZ's project management has leveraged tools such as Dynamic View, Control Center and Bridge to make significant progress. Encouraged by these successes and keen to continue its digital evolution, HIT HOLZ has become the first German customer to adopt Smartsheet Advance Gold and is looking to take full advantage of the platform's capabilities.
Empowering employee growth
HIT has also leveraged Smartsheet's capabilities within its human resources department to deepen its understanding of its workforce. The platform has proven to be a valuable asset in creating a definitive inventory of the organisation's workforce, capturing the skills, certifications and leadership capabilities of its more than 700 employees.
From a pragmatic point of view, this tool facilitates the identification of qualified foremen for specific tasks, such as the operation of heavy machinery, in line with regulatory requirements for licensing and operation. It also provides a transparent view of the ways in which the company can encourage employee progression and innovation through targeted training initiatives.
Although some staff were initially unfamiliar with cloud-based applications, they quickly became adept at using Smartsheet due to its user-friendly design.
The HIT dashboard provides employees with various functionalities, such as the ability to modify their assigned tasks and monitor related documentation. This has led to the successful management of 380 active sub-projects within the company.
König likens the simplicity of Smartsheet to "ordering from Amazon" to reassure those who are reluctant to adopt the technology. He explains: "There was a learning curve with Smartsheet, but now there's an internal drive for our services to create additional workflows. This shift from being pushed to being demanded has been significantly influenced by AMX's educational support.
The intuitive nature of the platform is also useful for day-to-day operations, such as staff submitting incident reports.
Protecting employee safety
Smartsheet enables HIT's shop floor managers to quickly record incidents by providing three key pieces of information, along with a photo, at the moment an event occurs. This process is facilitated by the use of iPads, which fit seamlessly into the managers' daily inspection routines and ensure that incident reports are communicated to the appropriate department in a timely manner.
Keeping a log of these incidents is a critical practice in promoting a safe and compliant workplace. In particular, the incident management report form is essential for assessing the severity of an incident, understanding its impact and developing strategies to prevent future occurrences. "It is about identifying the criticality of the incident, the sequence of events, the impact on our operations and the actions required to prevent a recurrence," explains König.