The highlights of the project

Reduction in stocks

Optimised reliability of deliveries through transparency

Data can be viewed on dashboards in real time

The challenge

Lack of transparency and flexibility; capacity bottlenecks in production

Full order books and machines running at full capacity: sounds like the best-case scenario if you're a medium-sized company, especially in the highly competitive metal processing industry. But customer needs have shifted significantly in recent years. These days clients require small batches from flexible, quick-turnaround suppliers who are not just reliable, but also offer the right production options – lots of them. As a result, our client – a SME already offering a heterogeneous selection of specialised metal solutions – found itself increasingly challenged by the new demands of its customers. And its shopfloor was proving increasingly difficult to manage. It was time to address some familiar issues in its sector:

  • A general lack of transparency regarding machine statuses and capacities
  • Unknown causes of errors on the shopfloor, resulting in delays and disruptions
  • Large volumes of finished and semi-finished components occupying time and resources

The engagement

Digitalisation of production processes

Implementing change in parallel to everyday operations would mean carefully considering all options. It was important to understand not only the changes that had been attempted in the past, but also potential sure-fire fixes now – plus any future methods for digitalising processes across the board. Bottom line, the new setup need to enhance transparency and efficiency, but not by reinventing the wheel, replacing all machines or alienating staff.

The approach adopted by GFT first focussed on a detailed analysis of the current situation and  best-fit digitalisation scenarios. A programme of measures was assessed and agreed: new and retrofit solutions that would not only facilitate short-term and long-term implementation, but also pave the way for a continuous improvement programme and gain the buy-in of employees. This included:

  • Introduction of a system for connecting machines independent of manufacturer – both machines with digital interface as well as retrofit solutions for old machines
  • Connection of 10 machines to an open IoT platform and providing these to all relevant systems
  • State-of-the-art dashboards to visualise machine data across different end devices

The benefit

Long-term productivity enhancements and transparency on the shopfloor

It's highly satisfying for an already successful SME when a change programme prepares its business for emerging trends and customer demands. As the company's operators scanned their dashboards and watched the new systems ramp up, they could not only clearly monitor a sharp rise in productivity, but they also witnessed a sea-change in system reliability and process efficiency:

  • 20% more orders delivered 'right first time on time'
  • 43% reduction in throughput times versus the previous setup
  • 50% fewer parts in the warehouse, or semi-finished components waiting for processing

Through consulting and the implementation of software systems by GFT experts, our customer was able to optimize his shopfloor through new levels of transparency. It soon watched customer satisfaction improve and was the first to realise how improving capacities and productivity also makes a difference on other fronts:

  • The smiles had come back onto the faces of shopfloor staff
  • Less time was being wasted – staff could now use shopfloor and warehouse space more efficiently
  • Enhancements could be monitored anywhere, in real time, on various devices

In a nutshell, key routine processes were now working again. And the benefits in the long term were also obvious: the new setup saved money.

Further details on this success story

IoT management

Industry 4.0 consulting

IoT management

Industry 4.0 consulting

To learn how your business can adopt our approach, please get in touch