Highly Efficient Production Planning and Control for Single-Item and Small-Batch Production with Ingenics Shopfloor Management at Walther Pilot
Overall system optimized with respect to interaction between people and machines
Coordinating different steps in the value chain and adhering to target dates are major challenges in single-item and small-batch production. Unlike mass production, there are very few established metrics apart from delivery. However, design changes or accelerated delivery dates on short notice can quickly overwhelm a factory. By introducing a strategic shopfloor management system at Walther Pilot, Ingenics was, once again, able to implement a highly efficient approach to production planning and control.
- Reduced lead times
- Optimal utilization of production resources
- Increased transparency in order processing
- Better links between departments
- Job priorities easy to synchronize
- Improved ability to measure the effect of later deadlines
- Improved ability to measure the effect of disruptions
Walther Pilot is a world-class supplier of components and systems for equipment used in material conveyance and application, especially in the field of spraying and coating technology. In product development, the company focuses on economy, environmental protection, health and safety, and user benefits. Tanks, overspray filtration systems, and spray booths are some of the products manufactured at the Neunkirchen-Struthütten plant (Siegen-Wittgenstein, North Rhine-Westphalia). Walther Pilot is the market leader for material pressure tanks.
Quality creates demand, and a constant increase in demand leads to stable growth: by late 2014, the management team had to respond to the fact that the factory’s expansion had outpaced organization over the years. New, sustainable structures for production had to be created given the existing framework was already pushed to its limits, not least because focus on international standards promised further growth. Since Ingenics offers many years of experience in production planning and control – and had previously provided professional support to Walther Pilot with a successful outcome – it did not take long to find the right partner for this ambitious restructuring project.
In keeping with Ingenics’ consulting approach, Andreas Grundnig, Partner and Director at Ingenics AG, agreed with the client that he would first focus on the cost–benefit ratio of production planning and control for single-item and small-batch production in his capacity as project leader. As soon became clear, collecting detailed order information and target times was not an issue, unlike in mass production, due to a high number of variants and a low frequency of repetition. Individual production departments had always optimized the order cycle for themselves, which made it very difficult for them to evaluate the overall impact on other departments. In this sense, creating transparency by introducing planning boards across different departments was an important milestone on the way to successfully establishing a functioning shopfloor management system.
These planning boards are now used to allocate resources to individual production orders on a time line. Essential facts and figures – from availability of staff, materials, and product program to machine utilization times – are now determined in advance and taken into account. All responsibilities have been redefined in detail to establish close, lasting links between individual departments on a practical basis. Regular shopfloor rounds enable an ongoing comparison of actual results against targets, transparent for everyone concerned, while the outcome also provides an ideal basis for future CIPs. This means it is always clear when the factory is working close to full capacity and when special measures or additional shifts need to be arranged.
Ultimately, improved transparency and closer links between individual departments made it easier to measure the impact of postponed deadlines on the overall situation and quality of decisions concerning timing. As planned, lead times were reduced by a significant margin in a move that also improved punctuality. Key factors for long-term success were joint development of planning boards across different departments and, most of all, an investigation into the overall system with respect to the way in which people and machines interact, leading to optimization measures. In this sense, operational managers and employees received personal support, intensive coaching, and individual development throughout the project.