Briggs & Stratton streamlines manufacturing and business processes with Google Drive


Editor’s note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Brent Hoag, IT Director at Briggs & Stratton, the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment.

Briggs & Stratton has been in the business of making gas-powered engines for more than 100 years, and if you use a lawn mower or tractor, chances are it’s running one of our engines. Today, we also sell portable generators, pressure washers and snow blowers, and we’re transitioning into a maker of consumer equipment.

A few years ago, our CEO, Todd Teske, set out a strategy to break the company into the consumer market — an expansion from our long history in the original equipment manufacturing industry. To bring his strategy to life, he needed the company to adapt to the demands of consumer markets and invest in innovation. He hired me to help make that change happen with help from the best technology available. When I discovered that 15% of our network traffic was consumed by unsecured content storing and sharing and realized that poor communication was leading to inefficiencies, I pushed for a move to Google Apps. I knew that switching to Google’s platform would not only fix our communications problems, but help our 3,000 employees be both more innovative and more effective.

That’s happening now, in a big way. In a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, for example, one of our industrial engineers saw a way for Google Drive to replace an outdated, paper-based system to get critical information to production line workers. For decades, step-by-step instructions for assembling engine parts and quality-control checklists were all typed up and printed out for workers on five production lines. This wasn’t just a waste of paper — it often led to damaging errors when processes changed and employees were going about their jobs with inaccurate instructions and manuals. The proliferation of out-of-date information was just inefficient and potentially hazardous. To solve this problem, the engineering team created a page with Google Sites with Drive folders for each piece of manufacturing equipment, with photos, instructions for assembly, how-to videos for each of the steps and line schedules — all in a variety of file types, like JPGs, PDFs and Word docs. Workers can read instructions and learn exactly how to do the assembly using shared workstations on the plant floor.

Drive doesn’t just help us on the shop floor — it’s equally essential for our sales team, who spend a lot of time on the road, meeting with dealers and partners. Reps used to have to spend an hour or two sifting through different Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to find the most up-to-date pricing and promotions data before heading out to customer meetings and jotting down notes or downloading information onto their laptops. We’re now storing the current pricing database and promotions spreadsheet in Drive, and since our Sales teams use Drive sync on their computers, the latest information is automatically synced from Drive to their laptops. They never have to wonder if they have the right prices when they’re talking to a customer. They can also use the Drive mobile app to access the same information on their mobile devices. This means more hours spent with customers and a happier sales team — two big wins for Briggs.

Google is helping us streamline our manufacturing and business processes at a time when we have unprecedented product and corporate growth. And Todd’s strategy around breaking into the consumer market is making its mark: we’ve introduced 40 new models of lawn, garden and outdoor power equipment, won a handful of “Best of” awards and continue to see a growing percentage of our revenue come from these innovations. Google allows us to change our image inside and outside the company in a democratic and creative way, from the assembly line to the CEO’s office.

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About Author

Colin Cooper is the CEO of Boost Your Business, the leader in marketing and business development for both large and small scale businesses. As one of the most innovative marketing specialists for over a decade, Colin and his team of business and online experts collate their years of know-how and experiences with the Boost Your Business: Body Armour for Business, an online magazine created to provide a holistic resource avenue for everything business, health, and wellness.