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Mohawk Implements a Zero Waste Approach to Manufacturing

At SAPPHIRENOW, I dropped in on a session to hear from Jana Kanyadan, SVP and CIO, Mohawk Industries.

If you don’t Mohawk, you should get to know them – because when it comes to businesses leading the way to help the planet survive, Mohawk’s story is impressive.

You may not know Mohawk by name, but it’s not because you don’t experience the company’s products. In fact, you may be literally standing on Mohawk right now as you read this – I was as I typed this out from the floor of the SAPPHIRENOW event.

Mohawk – which operates in the mill products space – is the world’s largest flooring company. From carpets, wood flooring, and laminate to luxury vinyl and solid wood, Mohawk manufactures every type of flooring imaginable under a variety of popular brands.

At one time, Mohawk made its carpet products from virgin polyester. Today, these carpets are made exclusively from plastic bottles – and the decision to move to this manufacturing model provides significant benefit to the environment.

“Mohawk recycles about 3 billion plastic bottles each year,” Jana said during his presentation. “One hundred percent of the plastic bottle is put to use in the carpet fibers, no waste. And it produces the softest and most stain-resistant carpet you can buy.”

What’s more, Mohawk plants themselves produce zero waste – with absolutely nothing going to landfill from those plants. These plants contain no garbage containers or dustbins. Everything that comes in – down to employees’ brown paper lunch bags – also goes out.

Mohawk, of course, is a business – and the challenge was to turn this recycling idea into a model that works for Mohawk as a business and its customers. Four critical focus area help Mohawk execute:

Supply chain integration

Using SAP software, Mohawk procures, processes, manufactures, and ships raw materials with a network of 700 trucks in North America alone. It also operates several distribution centers and over 320 retail locations in North America.

Automation is key. Warehouse automation, for example, means that when orders come in for a carpet, nothing stops. The order gets processed, the inventory gets assigned, and the carpet roll gets picked up and loaded into a truck within 35 minutes.

“SAP is the platform for which we achieve that full supply chain integration,” said Jana. “From planning, to auto management to fulfillment, every aspect is integrated and it’s our number one priority.”

Delighting the customer

Mohawk relies on big box channel partners like Home Depot, Lowe’s and ACE Hardware to go to market. It also uses distributors who get building products to smaller retailers while delivering directly to big home builders.

“We do not sell to the end consumer but at the end of the day, it’s the end consumer that touches our product every day whether at home or work,” says Jana. “We need to make sure the end consumer is knowledgeable about our products and we are appealing to them.”

Mohawk, therefore, approaches the end consumer as part of an ecosystem where the final product and experience for that consumer flows directly through channel partners, sales people, and customer service. To help deliver the best experiences possible, Mohawk uses SAP Hybris.

Quality

Mohawk uses data to drive more informed decisions at the factory floor and improve their distribution channels or when deploying samples to customers. They scrutinize data to learn which samples are driving sales or to detect what people are saying in social media. The company also uses an algorithm that reveals whether people are more interested in lighter or darker flooring, or lighter or darker cabinets.

Based on data insight, Mohawk can understand preferences at a macro level so that it can provide services that are delightful. It can also better control quality on the shop floor. In fact, Mohawk has removed all computers from its factories and created a command center that monitors 56 plants all over the U.S.

“People tend to ignore alarms,” says Jana. “But when a command center operator calls a plant operator to fix something, they listen. We consider this to be real-time, proactive and predictive analytics. We are now using five years worth of data from literally hundreds of sensors.”

Creating a great tech experience

Mohawk is no stranger to the consumerization of IT. The company, in fact, strives to make the Mohawk IT experience to be as simple and easy for employees as possible.

“I want everyone to be as comfortable at work as they are at home,” says Jana. “Things should work easily and not require jumping through multiple hoops to accomplish simple things.”

As a result, Mohawk has re-vamped its human capital management system to ensure “everything is a touch button away,” as Jana puts it.

“I am in touch with my team whether I am sitting in my office or in a conference room so it’s important to create the same experience with all employees in terms of communicating and collaborating.”

Thank you to Jana for a great presentation at SAPPHIRENOW. And thank you to Mohawk for helping to save the planet!

Learn more about SAP Manufacturing and register for MPI report on Digital road to Industry 4.0.

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