The graphic scheduling board for your production: live, fast and flexible
Case Study - Meusburger
Products:injection tools, high-quality dies and accessories
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Transparency in steel
The standard component producer Meusburger has maintained its peak position with respect to the quality of products and delivery despite the rapid growth of the enterprise. This is due in part to the transparent information that the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) by Industrie Informatik supplies.
"We were seeking a partner that would accompany us on a long, successful road. Industrie Informatik fulfilled our expectations completely."
Mag. (FH) Daniel Fuchs, head of Logistics, Meusburger
Founded nearly 50 years ago as a one-man enterprise, today Meusburger in Wolfurt (Vorarlberg, Austria) is a leading European supplier of high-quality forms for injection molding machinery. Regular capacity enhancements and targeted investments in the newest technologies have made the family enterprise with 550 employees for over 8000 customers the top choice for standard components for tools and forms.
Top product quality is the prerequisite for this success: When customers such as Playmobil invest large sums in the construction of their molds, it must be guaranteed that the initial material is perfect and that no distortion occurs during processing. Meusburger precludes this risk from the start via stress-relief heat treatment.
The company has 58,000 standard articles with 98% availability for delivery. In addition to their extensive standard assortment, some 20% custom dimensions are produced.
800 deliveries per day
Reliability of delivery is a primary concern for Meusburger. 700 to 800 deliveries are shipped daily to an international customer base. Due to a large finished product inventory of 55 million euro, on-time production-to-order and sophisticated logistics, Meusburger can pride itself on the shortest delivery times on the market: from the warehouse, the product reaches the customer the next day; on production-to-order, they promise delivery in three days. This presents a huge challenge in terms of flexibility in production!
High demands for MES solution
Mag. Daniel Fuchs is responsible for the entire software that controls the smooth production process and the logistics. As project manager, he was also responsible for the changeover to MES several years ago. Because the ERP system had also been customized by the in-house IT team, they also expected the newly introduced areas of plant data collection, machine data collection and time & attendance to be as flexible as possible and easy to parameterize while remaining releasable.
The company opted for Industrie Informatik, whose Manufacturing Execution System specializes in integrated support of production processes and who, with more than 300 installations of the standard solution cronetwork at renowned European production enterprises, is a leader and one of the most innovative vendors on the market.
"Until then we had used a low-flexibility system for plant data collection that lacked functional testing and supplied too little information. Our work time logging had reached its limits. Therefore it was important to us to find a future-safe system that could handle new challenges and the rapid growth of the company," Mag. Fuchs explains the challenges for the new system. "cronetwork by Industrie Informatik met our requirements for information visualization without administrative effort, technological innovation, flexibility and simple display of information."
Transparent information at the front line
The ability to present information clearly and across area boundaries is of particular importance in practice at Meusburger because many decisions are made directly by operators at the machines: "We deliberately gave much freedom to the front line. Our decision makers are generally the machine operators. They decide the sequence of order processing, their time allocation, etc.," Mag. Fuchs explains the corporate philosophy for task distribution in production.
Likewise the fork lift operators have important coordination tasks. Now that they are equipped with mobile terminals that provide them with much information, they see continuously updated deadlines and priorities for the coming days and can predict any bottlenecks. Due to the high number of warehouse orders, they have the necessary flexibility to intelligently use the buffers before the machines, so that customer orders are delivered on time even on very busy days.
The in-house sales force can also check the progress of an order, whether it will be finished on time, and in case of delay where the order currently is. "This is extremely important for us because we regularly have 3000 to 4000 orders in progress. That alone would be the compelling argument for cronetwork. Without targeted system support, we could not sustain our delivery reliability at such a high level. At the level we have achieved, we would be lost without transparent information."
"In practice we have realized how important it is to have a solution in operation that enables us to easily localize the causes of problems and to implement control mechanisms to avoid such problems in the future. At the bottleneck machines we have integrated the control mechanisms so that the operators know which orders have top priority, how many orders with deadline relevance must be processed in the course of the shift, and which orders will be coming to their machines in the next 2-3 days, in order to decide whether overtime is necessary," Mag. Fuchs explains a benefit that comes to bear only in operation.
On problems in certain production areas or bottlenecks, now Meusburger can analyze actual machine utilization and whether work is optimal.
Integrated information in detailed planning
In contrast to Meusburger’s classical product range, where only a few job steps are required, in one area of production the company also offers subsequent processing, which requires specialized machines and highly qualified operators. For example, customers of very large forms entrust Meusburger with rough machining as preliminary work for the die maker. Depending on plate size, this can become very complex and require the use of different machines and work time of up to 100 hours. This is where cronetwork scheduling board comes to bear. "Due to the integration with plant data collection, we again have uninterrupted information flow. The operator sees in compact and clear form in a mask: Which orders are scheduled? Is the drawing finished? When must he begin? Are the predecessor operations complete? etc."
Production Planning knows which machine should begin which order, how much time is planned for that order, how far the order is, etc., in order to set the priority correctly. Before introduction of cronetwork, Production Planning did not know which drawing actually needed to be finished; they used to plan, but no one had access to updates. Today, if something is shifted in the scheduling board, the Production Planning staff sees this as well.
"That machine operators are now perfectly tuned with Production Planning and that material and drawings are at the machine at the right time are good examples of details that bring great benefits in practice," says logistics manager Fuchs.
"We are a family operation and can plan long-range; we needed a partner to travel a long, successful road with us. Here Industrie Informatik met our expectations: Despite continuous growth and an increase in production-to-order, we maintained performance at our high level regarding reliability and quality. Since the introduction of cronetwork we have grown from 220 to over 550 employees and have introduced many new work time models. Due to the flexible scalability of time & attendance, we never encountered any limits.
Support also functions very well and the software is stable and technologically always up-to-date. We certainly decided on the right partner," concludes Mag. Fuchs.
Photos: © Meusburger Georg GmbH & Co KG