Editor's note: Whether it's in the factory, warehouse or office, manufacturers need to work efficiently to bring their customers what's needed. This week we're focusing on how companies in the manufacturing industry are using Google solutions to work better and stay connected. Today's guest blogger is Jim Nielsen, Manager of Enterprise Technology Architecture and Planning from Shaw Industries. Watch our manufacturing webinar and See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Shaw Industries, we’re proud to have been a part of Northwest Georgia’s manufacturing heritage for over one hundred and sixty years. Many of our employees have worked with us for thirty or forty years, bringing with them a deep knowledge of the flooring industry, and a dedication to continuing our tradition of excellence.

Though we started in Georgia (and are still based there), our real estate portfolio includes 80 manufacturing sites in seven U.S. states, Mexico and China. We also have 50 distribution centers, as well as 19 showrooms located around the world. We are, in every sense of the word, a global flooring manufacturer and staying connected through communication and collaboration is central to our business.

In 2012, we rolled out Google Apps to over 10,000 employees. In addition to the immediate benefits of email, calendar and contacts, tools like Google+ Hangouts and Google Drive helped us transform complex, manual, and slow processes into a fast-moving and efficient stream of information.

Because these tools make it much easier for our employees to communicate and collaborate wherever they are, Google Apps has helped us “go lean” by eliminating wasteful processes and improving information flow. For example, our plant engineers can keep machines running more efficiently and safely by using Google Drive on any device to access and share our equipment manuals and safety procedures.

The flow of information globally and locally has really improved, as well. The combination of Hangouts, Docs and Google Translate has helped our global teams communicate with plants and suppliers more easily while reducing meeting times by up to 50 percent. Even employees located only 20 minutes apart are choosing to meet over Hangouts, saving travel time and gas. Similarly, our marketing and sales teams also use Google Docs to work more efficiently with third-party agencies on print and broadcast ads, and our departmental finance teams have streamlined their budgeting processes with Google Sheets.

Our associates at Shaw are passionate about their work, their products and our company. Their passion extends to tools like Google. It’s not often that a product is implemented and a year later co-workers are still mentioning what a good idea it was, and how they are still excited to be using it. Google has helped us strengthen this community by allowing us to work together, wherever we are, with whatever devices we’re using. We’re operating on a leaner, stronger foundation thanks in large part to Google.