How to boost production efficiency? Case study of Stelweld Sp. z o.o.
Is it possible to boost production capacity by 10% without increasing a company’s plant and machinery base and extending working time of its personnel? Turns out, it is. See how Stelweld Sp. z o.o. improved its production figures with deployment of advanced production management systems.
The automotive industry expects nothing less than perfection
Partnership with the automotive business sets the bar high for any company that delivers its products to that particular sector. For many years, Stelweld Sp. z o.o. has been building its image as the most reliable supplier by putting a strong focus on highest product quality, state-of-the-art technology base, and an innovative approach to business. The Company’s key products are welded structures, especially fuel and hydraulic oil tanks for machines and vehicles. Stelweld also produces tool boxes, battery housings, supports and frame structures, such as the frames for front and rear walls of buses, roof structures, and parts of load-carrying frames of vehicles. Every single day, more than 500 Stelweld’s employees take utmost care of the highest standards of work.
Well-thought-out investments in machinery and IT systems
Strong focus on operational excellence is a priority for the Company’s management. However, cutting-edge machinery is only half of the story. This is why for many years Stelweld has also invested heavily in IT systems. In 2008, the SAP system was deployed, and after several years the Company decided to streamline its production process management with the solutions offered by PSI.
After the launch of SAP, it quickly turned out that the level of detail of data in the ERP system is insufficient for real-time monitoring of the production process. A link between the shop-floor data and the business systems layer was needed, and the answer was the production management system (MES) offered by PSI. Featuring an advanced production scheduling system, MES facilitates the decision-making process and is a source of accurate and reliable shop-floor data. The access to key information makes it possible for the Company to reach its strategic goals and success in business: higher product and customer service quality, flexibility and lower production costs.
Main challenge: wide product and technology range
Given the Company’s extensive product portfolio and a wide range of production technologies used, Stelweld expected that the supplier would customize the system to various shop-floor work stations (lasers, presses, milling and bending machines, welding stations, paint shops and shop-floor works). The key was to take into account production scheduling and reporting, which were specific for various work stations. Additionally, the PSI system had to be integrated with the laser cutting management system. The Client’s management also expected the system to provide production KPIs and further improve production efficiency.
Solution of choice – PSI’s production management system
PSI MES is an advanced production scheduling and control system, which was tailored to the Client’s specific needs. At Stelweld, MES handles the following tasks:
- Detailed scheduling of production operations and orders for all work stations, taking into account technological limitations and real-time shop-floor situation.
- Creation of schedule simulations in order to analyse various planning strategies.
- Automatic distribution of the up-to-date work schedule to operators working on shop-floor terminals.
- Real-time reporting of order completion status and unplanned situations occurring during production (breakdowns, downtimes, quality issues).
- Reporting of production KPIs.
- Integration with Stelweld’s legacy system (SAP).
How is production scheduled?
SAP is Stelweld’s main enterprise management system. All orders are generated by the ERP, and then automatically imported to the PSI system. Imported orders are stored as “Ready for scheduling”.
The planner picks selected or all orders and creates a production schedule, taking into account the availability of resources, production technology and deadlines set in the SAP. Production batches to be cut together on laser stations are created earlier. The PSI is integrated with the laser cutting management and optimization system, so as to automate and accelerate the flow of information.
The planner analyses the initial schedule on a Gantt chart, which provides a detailed visualization of the production schedule. All planned operations are allocated to individual work stations based on availability as well as time and technology limitations. Before the schedule is sent to the shop floor, the planner checks planned order lead times against real shop-floor data. Planned delays and work station overloads are identified already at the production scheduling stage. Schedule simulations are an interesting option, making it possible to analyse various planning strategies. The final schedule is sent to shop-floor terminals.
How is production monitored in real time?
Shop-floor operators use the production schedule sent to work terminals. If the schedule is changed, it is automatically updated on all terminals, which means that the operators always have access to the up-to-date schedule version. In addition, the PSI system feeds the updated deadlines for orders and shop-floor operations back to the SAP system. The terminals report the status of production and operations, breakdowns and quality issues, and automatically record production uptime and downtime. Based on up-to-date information collected from the shop floor, both the planner and production managers are able to keep an eye on the progress of orders and production efficiency in real time.
Performance indicators at Stelweld
The PSI system addressed the major requirement set by Stelweld management: namely, the need to control the production process and its efficiency based on a number of reports, which include OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), OLE (ang. Overall Labour Effectiveness), current status of machinery and workforce, progress of works, production efficiency and quality, production downtime and breakdowns. The reports provided faster access to key information to make sure the existing production performance indicators are accurate. Not only are the reports an excellent tool for production efficiency evaluation and cost optimization, but they also ensure faster verification of the underlying data quality in the ERP system.
Our clients expect continuous optimisation of production costs and flexibility. With the level of detail and availability of data in the PSI system, we have better control over our production costs and we utilise our resources more efficiently. At each stage of system deployment, I could count on support and assistance from the PSI Polska team who tailored their system to our business needs.
Mariusz Gulka, Business Development Director, Management Board Member at Stelweld Sp. z o.o.
Effects of deployment
Upon deployment of the PSI system, Stelweld Sp. z o.o. reported a 10% boost in production efficiency over 6 months since the production launch, as well as a significant reduction of overtime work. Production scheduling ensures more efficient use of available production resources. Orders are completed more efficiently and delivered in a timely manner, and the Company is able to react faster to any variations or unpredictable situations on the shop floor and has full control over the production process. As a result, PSI’s production management system enhances production efficiency and facilitates the flow of key information by providing a number of detailed reports required for evaluation of production efficiency.
Author: Adam Jednoróg
Competence Center Manager for Production Management Systems at PSI Polska Sp. z o.o.