Opcenter helps medical device manufacturer reduce material release from days to minutes

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Medic

Terumo Americas is a global leader in medical device industry manufacturing life-supporting and sustaining Class III devices across four divisions over the last 50 years, including interventional systems, injection and infusion therapy devices and drug delivery devices.

Terumo Americas’ Siemens-based MES implementation over a decade ago resulted in the reduction of NCRs and complaints by 40 – 60%. In 2018, they built on this initial success with a larger digital transformation initiative. With SAP S/4HANA selected as its ERP, Terumo Americas leadership selected Siemens as its strategic partner for manufacturing operations management (MOM), implementing Siemens Opcenter Execution for Medical Device and Diagnostics. These would serve as the major enterprise systems for their digital factories around the world.

“We set out to build our digital factories of the future, this initiative was not about technology. It was about transforming the way we did business.” – Kalyan Balsubramanian, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Terumo Americas.

Terumo implemented Siemens Opcenter in their facility in Puerto Rico, with a go live on the same day as the SAP go live. They achieved what they considered the pinnacle of MES goals, the generation of eDHRs. They simultaneously went live at their largest site in Elkton, Maryland.

“Both implementations were extremely successful” said Rick Larrieu, Vice President of Global IT Applications and Infrastructure at Terumo Americas. “We leveraged Siemens’ expertise to help us build the roadmap and the implementation plan. We learned a lot from that experience, which will help us adapt for future deployments, as well as our integration with automation equipment.”

Terumo Americas’ goal was to integrate their business logistics layer, ERP, with their manufacturing operations layer, MOM, and connect with automation and sensors – ultimately building the framework for Industry 4.0. At the same time, Terumo needed to scale their production not only of quality products, but quality processes. The complexity of their compliance requirements, especially with the US FDA, were daunting.

“The transition to eDHRs has been of the utmost importance, before, we had to review a stack of papers 5 inches thick for the release of every material batch, which took a full day or more. With Opcenter, we are able to release batches in under 30 minutes.”

– Rick Larrieu Vice President of Global IT Applications and Infrastructure Terumo Americas

The paperless manufacturing environment delivered by Siemens Opcenter was transformational for productivity, as well as the streamlining of quality processes. Terumo found that their previous product nonconformances had been caused by paperwork and data entry errors. As the MES controlled each of the data entry points, they were able to reduce their nonconformances dramatically.

Another impact of digitalization was on the culture of the manufacturing organization. “This was not a technology initiative,” said Balsubramanian.

We leveraged the Siemens expertise to help us build the roadmap and the implementation plan. We learned a lot from that experience, which will help us adapt for future deployments, as well as our integration with automation equipment.”

– Rick Larrieu Vice President of Global IT Applications and Infrastructure Terumo Americas

OKQ8 Creates Future-proof Digital Depot Management

Sweden’s leading fuel company uses Siemens Digital Enterprise portfolio and partner PlantVision for digital transformation in the Oil and Gas Industry

OKQ8, one of Sweden’s largest fuel companies, has increased operational reliability with a fully automatic depot management solution. Using Siemens Digital Industries Software solution partner, PlantVision AB, and the Siemens Digital Enterprise portfolio, OKQ8 has fully automated the fuel loading and unloading process, with full control and traceability in a modern, future-proof system.

OKQ8 was struggling to streamline their depot management. They needed better traceability, reliability, and user assistance to meet their customer follow-up needs. They wanted to create a more stable and efficient solution using trusted products and implementation resources.

OKQ8 chose the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio and PlantVision as their partners for digital transformation. Using Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7, COMOS, SMIT and Opcenter Execution Process software, OKQ8 knew that they had trusted solutions that had been vetted in the industry. PlantVision’s expertise with this full portfolio of products ensured the success of the project.

“It is great to have integration between all systems,” said Johan Bergstrand, automation engineer at PlantVision. “Having a standardized and integrated platform with COMOS, SIMIT, Opcenter Execution Process and SIMATIC PCS 7 connects everything in one database. Recipe management, I/Os and all the information are in the same place and synced between the systems. It is smart engineering.”

OKQ8 says the handling, which consists of loading, unloading, inventory levels, administration and invoicing, is now fully automated. The result is a reliable, modern, future-proof and significantly more efficient and traceable solution for depot management that can also be used for follow up and documentation.

Read the entire case study to learn how OKQ8 leveraged Siemens’ solutions and partner PlantVision to transform their depot management, the details of their implementation, and key learnings for your own operations.

BASF reduces batch production time by 5 – 10%

Using Siemens Opcenter, leading chemicals company streamlines production with digital manufacturing

BASF, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, has achieved the highest levels of operational excellence by streamlining the production of their crop protection solutions for soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming. Their Xemium® product is an active and environmentally safe fungicide that enables highly reliable crop protection for greater yields, helping growers combine profitability with environment protection.

Xemium production runs 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and involves both continuous and batch processes as well as laboratory analyses for quality control and end-of-line packaging. BASF sought a digital solution that would help them reliably produce and package their fungicides, improve production transparency, and maximize productivity. They chose Siemens Opcenter as their foundation for digital manufacturing.

Opcenter allowed BASF to create vertical process integration, closing the digital gap between ERP and SCADA systems. Quality control was integrated throughout their digitalized production processes, with handheld scanners improving their data acquisition from operations.

The result was a complete digital thread that streamlined their manufacturing operations, reducing their batch production time by 5 to 10 percent. They were able to eliminate 5 days of manual paperwork per month by digitalizing their processes and capturing production data automatically. Their fungicide supply was delivered on a more timely schedule for their customers, promoting sustainable, high-yield farming.

Streamlining planning and scheduling processes to achieve on-time delivery on average 96 to 98 percent of the time

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Aerospace & defense

Applied Composites, founded in 1982, is a global leader in the composites industry, providing composite solutions for air-frames, engines, defense and mission systems, launch vehicles and satellite structures. Overall, the company aims to strategically offer engineering services, programmatic support and vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities to customers in the aerospace and defense industries. Applied Composites has a long customer satisfaction history thanks to their focus on improving their processes to reduce time and costs.

However, as Applied Composites grew, they noticed issues regarding planning, scheduling and their overall processes. As a solution, the company consulted with Lean Scheduling International (LSI), part of ATS Global (ATS), a Siemens Digital Industries Software partner. This led to the company leveraging Opcenter™ software as a solution, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services.null

Keeping up with business growth challenges

Although business growth sounds like an overall win-win situation, there are challenges that come with it. Applied Composites realized that it was becoming more difficult to manage planning, scheduling and overall processes, especially when the company’s growth was affecting all areas. As the customer base grew, the amount of work grew, causing the need for more employees. With these compounding issues, the plant’s work environment also suffered, creating stress for workers to understand where products were and causing orders to go missing. Additionally, not knowing what materials they would need for certain jobs or not being able to schedule enough employees to run available machines was causing the company to fall behind.

During this period, Applied Composites was using spreadsheets and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to create a detailed production report listing all customer jobs and ship-by dates. The ERP software would set the material dates using its built-in materials requirement planning (MRP) function; however, this system had flaws. It did not consider tooling as a constraint, which is crucial for accurately scheduling downstream operations in the manufacturing process. Due to this, Michael Moses, the master scheduler at Applied Composites, would have to schedule 6 to 8 weeks out after receiving the MRP process report.

Additionally, John Pettit, the operations manager at Applied Composites, describes the challenges of the supervisor’s role in the first operational step (laminating). First, they would have to look at the daily report. Then piece together how to manage the shop floor for the day. This includes figuring out what the delivery dates were, knowing that they had to have everything in their department at least four weeks before the due date and giving other departments a week to finish. Overall, the process was not optimal and left room for error.

Applied Composites knew they needed to find a way to overcome these issues, especially when it came to scheduling and planning. “Overall, we wanted to have a clear indication of what we could be delivering on,” says Moses.

Teaming up to find a solution

To find a solution, Applied Composites solicited help from LSI. At first, the company struggled with adapting to a solution that had an alternative approach to scheduling versus their original ERP software, leading the first implementation to not be successful. However, once the company was confident in LSI’s suggestion of using Opcenter Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS), they were able to successfully implement it.

Using mini-proofs of concept, LSI worked with Applied Composites to suggest and gather data for driving their schedule. Additionally, by having a hands-on approach for configuring models and validating data requirements, the companies can test various validation scenarios.

Overall, Applied Composites chose Opcenter APS as their scheduling and planning solution because of its capability to manage complex scheduling requirements with multiple constraints active throughout the manufacturing process. This was something the company’s previous ERP software could not do.null

Overcoming planning and scheduling limitations

Before integrating Opcenter APS, Applied Composites experienced numerous limitations using their old solution. This included a lack of visibility for material availability, a reliance on the scheduler’s and shop floor supervisor’s tribal knowledge, a stressful and chaotic environment, exponential amounts of time spent on production scheduling and no solution to aid the scheduler in making decisions. However, thanks to Opcenter APS, they were able to overcome most of them.

To overcome these limitations, using Opcenter APS, Applied Composites was able to configure models to consider all constraints, from materials to tooling or molds to operator capabilities. From there, they could efficiently create a schedule according to the plant’s true capacity and not an estimate. With these configurations, the company could also improve their scheduling processes since the software could automatically make many of the scheduling decisions. Previously, the scheduler took hours to create a high-level report and then use it to create a schedule in a spreadsheet, leveraging knowledge and data from multiple sources.

As for visibility, using Opcenter APS, workers could see where the orders were in the plant, inform customers of actual lead times versus standard lead times and see if there were any potential issues downstream. Further, the ability to set accurate material demand dates and schedules was groundbreaking for the company. Now they could schedule over 30,000 operations quickly and easily, saving time and manual effort.null

Previously, department supervisors handled scheduling and processed downstream operations simultaneously, causing them to miss opportunities to maximize throughput and reduce changeover times. Additionally, Applied Composites considered assigning three schedulers to manage the plant’s activities; however, with Opcenter APS, they required one master scheduler, lowering the need for more workers for a specific task.

Overall, by using this solution, Applied Composites can generate an easy-to-follow schedule, helping them limit the decision-making happening on the shop floor and reducing stress and disorganization.null

Benefiting from Opcenter

Once Applied Composites fully integrated Opcenter APS, they pushed the software’s capabilities to the max, using nearly every out-of-the-box (OOTB) feature without customizations, reducing scheduling time from hours to minutes. Using this solution provided the company with an accurate schedule that respects tooling and machine constraints, labor and materials while maximizing set up time, prioritizing delivery dates and allowing them to flag priority customers. They can also stay on top of any issues or delays that may arise, allowing the company to immediately notify the customer and inform them of the recovery date.

“Using Opcenter APS ties it all together, giving us an opportunity to be upfront with our customers and to help identify what’s going to contribute the most success to the program,” says Moses.

Thanks to the constraint capabilities, Applied Composites can now streamline their tooling and labor processes. For tooling constraints, the company had unique challenges concerning molds, which multiple operations used. Once a mold was in use for one operation, it was used for multiple stages until the system released it later during a downstream process. This means that technicians cannot schedule that mold again until it is released. To overcome this challenge, the solution needed to commit those molds to each consecutive operation that required them, track their use and not allow another operation to schedule them until they were available.

As for labor constraints, the company used these at the department level; however, only certain operators had the specific resource skills or capabilities to use them. Using Opcenter APS, Applied Composites can now see the plant’s capacity, how many additional people they need to hire or if there is a tool constraint issue.null

“How many plants have full scheduling software that can do almost everything?” says Moses. “With Opcenter APS, we can accomplish everything from capacity planning to giving the shop floor technicians a visual board of what they need to work on in order that also allows them to see their monthly on-time delivery stats.”

Another major benefit of this solution was achieving on-time delivery on average 96 to 98 percent of the time. “By leveraging Opcenter APS, we can react to changes quicker,” says Moses. Since the company could react quicker, technicians could solve issues as soon as they received notification.

“Using Opcenter, we haven’t dipped below 96 percent for on-time delivery except maybe one or two times during the COVID supply shortage,” says Moses.

By implementing a data-driven solution like Opcenter APS, Applied Composites needs to keep its data accurate. This not only ensures that the solution continues to work but also helps the company standardize its processes and prioritize correcting data inaccuracies, keeping the company streamlined.

Overall, by implementing Opcenter APS, Applied Composites has a solution that is flexible enough to grow with its business and has almost doubled the number of scheduled operations.nullnull

Robopac moves toward 50% production capacity increase with Siemens Opcenter

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Machinery solutions

Global manufacturer of packaging machine solutions launches the Robopac Smart Factory

Since 1982, Robopac has been manufacturing end-of-line solutions, including semi-automatic wrapping machines with smart technology, industrial shrink wrappers, shrink wrapping machines, case packers, and tailor-made packaging solutions. The company has grown into a global leader in the packaging sector, with seven manufacturing facilities (five in Italy, one in the US, and one in Brazil) along with nine subsidiaries across the world. Robopac has the capacity to manufacture 50,000 machines each year. It emphasizes high-performance packaging solutions with extreme attention to the circular economy.

Robopac has experienced growing demand both in the volume of machines it manufactures and in the variety of products it offers.  “Our customers are requesting customized products more and more,” explains Alessandro Manduchi, Robopac operations manager. “Robopac offers a very high number of configurations for each of our packaging machines, and this is one of our key differentiators.”

To keep up with demand for customized products without compromising manufacturing cycle time or quality, Robopac is making its production process more flexible and capable. The company recently initiated the “Robopac Smart Factory” project, which includes (1) a reorganization of the production system and industrial layout and (2) digitalization of core processes and operations.

For its digitalization efforts, Robopac selected Siemens Opcenter manufacturing operations management (MOM) platform. The Robopac technology team determined that Opcenter is ideally suited to support the company’s expected volume growth while ensuring greater process efficiency, flexibility and quality, as well as service reliability for Robopac customers. “Siemens offered a complete end-to-end solution for our scheduling, manufacturing, reporting and quality control processes in the production area,” Manduchi summarizes.

Opcenter has been integrated with Robopac’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and warehouse management system (WMS). The MOM platform has also helped Robopac fully implement automated guided vehicles (AGVs) along the production line. Opcenter is supporting the Robopac Smart Factory in several ways:

  • Optimizing advanced scheduling of production orders
  • Reducing manual and paper activities on the shop floor
  • Orchestrating and monitoring the entire production flow, including AGV movement
  • Guaranteeing real-time monitoring and full traceability through line dashboards
  • Creating a digital thread that links production and quality management

Robopac has worked for years on lean production techniques and continuous process improvement. “Even in this context of good performances,” Manduchi reports, “the Smart Factory project has shown that technology, driven by human skills and abilities, can contribute to further upgrades leading towards excellence. We were absolutely impressed by the flexibility and ease of use of the Opcenter solution that quickly enabled us to achieve the targets of our Robopac Smart Factory initiative.”

Increasing sales by 100 percent

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Screw conveyors

Producing high-quality auger blades

Based in Edewecht, Northern Germany, C. E. Schneckenflügel GmbH has been a guarantor for producing high-quality auger blades for screw conveyors for 40 years. Today, their customers’ demands go beyond purely solid mechanical production. These demands focus on optimal production processes and workflows, as well as automation and digitization to obtain the exact screw flights rapidly and at a low cost. The company opted for Opcenter™ advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software for detailed production planning. This is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business Platform of software, hardware and services. The implementation was carried out by Siemens’ solution partner, A+B Solutions GmbH, which specializes in digital solutions in the manufacturing sector.

Rolf Eiting, managing director at C.E. Schneckenflügel, believes that digitization is the only way to establish the company’s competitiveness for its future. “When we were founded 40 years ago, we were shaped by the mechanical and manual production processes used to manufacture our sectional flights,” states Eiting. “Today, we make sure the processes are state-of-the-art to offer the best performance at the best price.”

Increasing sales by 100 percent

This attitude now permeates all areas. Eiting recognized that investing in production equipment is only one side of the coin. Investing in digitization significantly increases productivity and sales. “Five years ago, we started to consistently invest in digitalization. This strategic decision led us to increase sales by 100 percent without needing to significantly increase our team.” Eiting continues, “back then, we generated 2.3 million euros with 14 employees and now we generate 4.5 million euros with 17 employees. We also reduced the average delivery time by 50 percent. Additionally, the error rate has drastically reduced while material yield has increased.”

Implementing a central production control system

C. E. Schneckenflügel received the “Große VR-Mittelstandspreis Weser-Ems” 2020 for exemplary optimization and digitalization. The company also made it on the list of the top 100 fastest growing German companies of 2020 according to a survey from the German magazine, Focus, in cooperation with Statista. In the meantime, the production control system has made a significant contribution to the company’s success. “Until a few years ago, we did not have any electronic production control. The production manager and the sales manager spent 20 minutes per day discussing which orders were pending and what had to go out,” Eiting continues. “Then, we started to rebuild our ERP system – infra:NET. This offered a module with production control, which I initially implemented to get accurate information about production use.

Unfortunately, the team’s acceptance was low due to the user interface. When I discovered Opcenter APS from A+B Solutions, I was immediately electrified. We were impressed by the graphical user interface. What kept us from placing an order immediately was the question of the connection to our existing ERP system.”

Gaining a new ERP partnership

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) software manufacturer, iN|ES GmbH in Calw, Germany was looking for a replacement for the previous module for production control. This was created by a small system house whose owner retired and discontinued development. Therefore, iN|ES partnered with A+B Solutions. Since Opcenter APS is offered and distributed worldwide in the software industries sector, it represented a considerable safety factor for iN|ES in terms of consistency and future security. Nothing stood in the way of this cooperation since both are similar sizes and structures, which benefits the combination of ERP and production control.

Successfully incorporating Opcenter APS

The first beneficiary of the cooperation is Eiting. As the initiator, he now benefits from the pilot role. “After the cooperation was established, we introduced Opcenter APS directly and immediately had great experiences. After five days of training and familiarization from A+B Solutions, we were already able to work with the system,” continues Eiting. “Our production manager also uses the software for intensive production planning.” The next step is to link the system to Reiner SCT’s existing personnel time recording system. Master data of machines and personnel are required for comprehensive capacity planning. With the coupling to the personnel time recording system, the data exchange is then automate

Saving material with automation

The automation is the most important aspect for Eiting. It runs like a thread through the entire company. “If there is an opportunity to automate a work step, we take it. Currently, there is no manual input except for order data. No one at our company is involved in permanent data maintenance,” explains Eiting. “Even shipping and handover to the freight forwarder is done automatically. All necessary information flows from the systems, such as ERP, into the production control system. The production control system supplies the plasma cutting system with order data and shows when the order can be produced and on which press. It takes over the automatic generation of the production plans and the work schedules, as well as the transfer to the sheet cutting system where the optimal nesting is carried out independently. The production control system indicates when the cutting can take place at the latest. If the nesting plan is not optimal, it is canceled and the system waits to see if another order with the same sheet thickness comes in. This saves material because there is less waste. The entire work process is fully automatic and we always have an up-to-date status. In the second work step, the cut rings are pressed into screw flights. Based on the data from the production control system, the orders are distributed to the presses.”

Producing short lead times

The time span between order and delivery is relatively short at C. E. Schneckenflügel. The screw flights are cut from sheet metal as rings, then pressed into shape. The customer selects the desired sheet type and thickness as well as their parameters for the screw flights from a stock capacity of 400 tons. The entire production process is exclusively order-related – production only starts when an order is received. As soon as an inquiry is received, the interested party receives a quotation in 24 hours. Once the order has been received, a binding delivery commitment is issued in five to 10 days, regardless of standard or special design. If it must be faster, the express option takes effect. This fast turnaround requires precise detailed production planning.

Maintaining delivery date promises

C. E. Schneckenflügel has about 2,500 active customers. Their order frequencies and volume significantly vary and can range from very small orders of 100 euros to several tens of thousands of euros. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for customers to place orders and deliver them as quickly as possible with the best quality. If we promise a delivery date, it must be met. We achieve this goal with Opcenter APS and the detailed production planning from A+B Solutions. Opcenter APS is the basis for the high productivity we have achieved today. It is the central software in our production,” claims Eiting.

Using Opcenter Scheduling for detailed planning

A+B Solutions helped adapt Opcenter APS to C. E. Schneckenflügel’s manufacturing processes. To achieve a high degree of automation of the processes with short lead times, the focus is on Opcenter Scheduling. By using this module, production processes can be planned well in advance and controlled in the short term. The licensing distinguishes between planners and viewers. The planners include Eiting and Andre Bergenthal, production manager at C. E. Schneckenflügel. Information on production capacity and order status can only be viewed in the sales department. Approximately 100 orders per week are processed this way. Each order is divided into five to six operations, resulting in up to 600 operations that are managed weekly by Opcenter Scheduling.

Resolving process concerns with A+B Solutions

Eiting is happy with A+B Solutions’ performance in terms of consulting, configuration and customization. “By partnering with A+B solutions, we were able to deeply resolve our concerns. We are very satisfied with the implementation. Our production manager, the team and the specialists at A+B Solutions quickly found their way together,” Eiting continues. “From our point of view, it is crucial to show a willingness to change to clearly express one’s wishes and keep the project of intelligent production control in mind.” The reward is a clear increase in productivity that is more efficient than classic investments in people and machines.

Expanding pioneering position

Currently, implementing a quotation generator is in the pipeline, which draws all information on daily updated sheet metal prices, production time and delivery date directly from the systems. The quotation is generated in minutes, online. Opcenter APS plays a key role in this process, as the system accurately determines the current production capacity and the expected. The use of Opcenter Scheduling for detailed production planning makes C. E. Schneckenflügel a digital pioneer in the industry. “Our team became highly enthusiastic about digital detailed production planning once implementing this system. Everyone recognizes the advantages Opcenter APS brings us and the opportunities it opens for us,” claims Eiting. “This modern orientation makes us more attractive as an employer and establishes our competitiveness. Today, despite a higher workload, we have a much better overview of production and smooth processes. As a result, we are much more relaxed from working with greater efficiency. A+B Solutions really gave us digital wings with Siemens Opcenter APS.”

If we promise a delivery date, it must be met. We achieve this goal with Opcenter APS and the detailed production planning from A+B Solutions.

Rolf Eiting, Managing Director
C.E. Schneckenflügel GmbH

Using AOI false call reduction software increases first pass yield by 42 percent

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Electronics

Opcenter Intelligence fits perfectly with our needs. We are always looking for innovative technical solutions and using Opcenter AOI FCR enabled significant improvement with reduced effort, which customers benefited from as well.

Tobias Morlock, Head of Process and Technology (Manufacturing)
Siemens Rastatt

Reducing false positives

Siemens Rastatt, which is part of Siemens AG, develops, manufactures and markets products and systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology in Rastatt, Germany. Their products are used in a variety of applications, including forced-air burners, boilers, alternative heating systems and industrial plants. Siemens Rastatt provides complete system solutions as well as controls, actuators, valves, automatic burner control systems for oil and gas burners and associated test equipment.

Their components are found in residential boilers and larger systems, such as in airports. They are also used in industry; for example, in drying equipment in paint lines of major car manufacturers.

Siemens Rastatt has four production lines and each one includes an automated optical inspection (AOI) machine to check the printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA) on its products. The first pass yield (FPY) was only 60 percent and of the remaining 40 percent, 97.5 percent were false calls.

“Whenever the AOI detects a potential error, an operator must check the board manually,” says Tobias Morlock, head of process and technology (manufacturing) at Siemens Rastatt. “It requires time but it also leads to what is known in the industry as ‘alarm fatigue’ and eventually the operator will unintentionally make more mistakes and tend to be more likely to approve a faulty board, which will be discovered only later in the production process. This led to greater overhead and losses.

“Usually, we would ask our AOI experts to optimize the machine settings to decrease the level of false results. The AOI machine vendor offered a partial solution that helped to manually optimize the process. We were using that solution, but it provided limited help. When we became aware of the new Siemens Digital Industries Software solution, we tried it and were happy to see better results.”

Siemens Rastatt adopted Opcenter™ Intelligence AOI False Call Reduction (FCR) software, which helped improve their initial FPY by 42 percent without any additional effort by their AOI experts. Opcenter Intelligence is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services. Using Siemens Xcelerator enables customers to accelerate their digital transformation at scale.

Siemens Rastatt analyzed several artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Most of the solutions required additional effort for integrating and developing interfaces for machines and implementing hardware, etc.

“The huge benefit of using Opcenter Intelligence AOI False Call Reduction was that we got a complete package from a responsible partner that operates on its own and provides a finished solution,” says Morlock.

“Opcenter Intelligence fits perfectly with our needs. We are always looking for innovative technical solutions and using Opcenter AOI FCR enabled significant improvement with reduced effort, which customers benefited from as well.

One of the big advantages of Opcenter AOI FCR is that it is a SaaS solution that significantly reduces the effort on our side. It was completely ready to be integrated into our AOI machines. It took less than 12 weeks to go from the first discussions to the start of commissioning. Twelve weeks later we started the operation phase successfully.”

With Opcenter Intelligence AOI FCR, an AI model is generated from AOI measurements data and operator-classified data. Concerns regarding escapes or slips are addressed in the assessment stage. Models are then validated to prove they have equal or better accuracy than the baseline.

The AI model is deployed to the shop floor on Siemens Industrial Edge devices and receives measurement data in real time from the AOI. The Industrial Edge platform provides decentralized and local data acquisition, analytics and transfer capabilities. In addition, it allows the user to deploy any software rapidly and reliably on to the shop floor, which reduces complexity and information technology (IT) costs by providing edge device and application lifecycle management (ALM) functionalities. Further, the Industrial Edge ecosystem provides secure data handling in production by using industrial grade hardware.

Using Opcenter Intelligence does not require the customer domain experts to have knowledge of Industrial Edge as it is covered by the AI lifecycle.

The AI consumes measurement data and outputs a decision: for instance, is the board a false call or potentially a real error? The result is delivered before the operator needs to check the board, saving time and effort. The AI is consistently more accurate than the operator and fewer mistakes are made deciding whether a real or false error has occurred.

Opcenter Intelligence AOI FCR is integrated into the four production lines. The AI result is seamlessly integrated into the testing station without disrupting the regular user experience of the operator.

Siemens provides full support

There were a number of keys to success to Siemens Rastatt’s implementation of Opcenter Intelligence AOI FCR: It does not require any AI expertise or user training and implementation was intuitive and rapid. The solution can be used out-of-the-box (OOTB) and the AOI experts do not experience any changes in their user experience.

The key factor is the seamless integration with the customer infrastructure and Siemens’ continual updating and refining of models. Machine learning operation services are used to continually optimize the availability and performance of models.

“The great thing about Opcenter Intelligence AOI FCR is you get the entire solution from one source,” says Morlock. “That makes it easy and fast to implement. Siemens Digital Industries Software does everything in the background. That helps us to focus our resources on more important tasks.

“Because of the smart solution from Siemens Digital Industries Software, the implementation was very quick. They provided a complete package of SaaS, including finished and tested interfaces to our AOI machine. Thanks to the remote access to our data, Siemens Digital Industries Software can work and optimize the AI in the background without any additional effort from us.”

Siemens Rastatt expects to use Opcenter Intelligence AOI FCR to drill down and configure the AOI parameters to directly impact the FPY at the source, and leverage AI to explore the routing of good boards sequentially. They are also considering using it as part of shop floor automation and for component analysis.

The huge benefit of using Opcenter Intelligence AOI False Call Reduction was that we got a complete package from a responsible partner that operates on its own and provides a finished solution.

Tobias Morlock, Head of Process and Technology (Manufacturing)
Siemens Rastatt

Reducing manual planning time for plastic material manufacturing

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Plastic

Not knowing or seeing the future and day-to-day planning was a nightmare. Then, I was introduced to Opcenter Scheduling, the best program for scheduling production.

Mitja Pavlic, Head of Planning Department
Plastoform Šmarjeta

Manufacturing thermoformable plastic material

Plastoform is one of Europe’s leading thermoformable plastic material manufacturers for the automotive, agriculture and marine industries. Headquartered in Šmarješke Toplice, Slovenia, Plastoform manufactures products and parts used in industrial machinery, recreational and special vehicles, busses, medical equipment, gaming units and more. Plastoform employs the thermoforming process, which is a method for molding plastic sheets into three-dimensional shapes using heat. Its production line also consists of computer numerical control (CNC) trimming, polyurethane (PU) foam technology, textile finishing and 3D scanning.

The company stands out from its competitors with its high adaptability to customer design needs, in-house tooling manufacturing capabilities, proactive and reactive continuous improvement, process control and flexibility. Currently, its technologies consist of 20 thermoforming machines and 19 5-axis CNC trimming machines.

Optimizing production scheduling

Plastoform found that its machine setup was wasting time during production. Its CNC machines typically take 20 minutes to set up, whereas its more complicated machines take about an hour. Additionally, it needed a way to manage orders in its production process and its existing tools were not efficient.

With the goal to increase planning efficiency, Plastoform was seeking a modern information system that it could integrate with its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to support production scheduling. It wanted to increase planning efficiency by creating schedules for longer periods of time as well as optimizing its machines and tooling.

“Most people think that planning is a stressful job. It is if you do not have the tools to do it,” explains Mitja Pavlic, head of planning department at Plastoform.

Using Opcenter Scheduling to increase planning efficiency

Being able to look far into the production future enables the team to discover bottlenecks and areas of improvement. Therefore, Plastoform selected Opcenter™ Scheduling software, which is a part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services.

Plastoform worked with Siemens’ solution partner, INEA d.o.o., which specializes in solving complex operations and supply chain problems in manufacturing. INEA installed Opcenter Scheduling and offered valuable insights on production planning and detailed scheduling efficiencies while also providing an operations roadmap.

Unlike Plastoform’s previous scheduling system, Opcenter Scheduling considers existing manufacturing constraints such as materials, tools, operators and capacity for production schedule generation. Opcenter Scheduling’s out-of-the-box (OOTB) versions provide an interactive interface to understand the current workload on the shop floor and the impact of day-to-day changes on customer delivery.

“Not knowing or seeing the future and day-to-day planning was a nightmare. Then, I was introduced to Opcenter Scheduling, the best program for scheduling production,” explains Pavlic.

Incorporating Opcenter Scheduling helped Plastoform navigate operational obstacles and improve production planning and detailed scheduling. It enabled the team to test out multiple production options, ultimately reducing bottlenecks. “Efficient planning is a key challenge in guaranteeing quality service and products for our customers. After introducing Opcenter Scheduling, I can say that I finally see into the future,” states Pavlic.

Expanding the planning horizon

When Plastoform felt more in control of their production scheduling and had increased its planning horizon, it tested the concept of reducing stock levels and pushing just-in-time (JIT) deliveries by having materials delivered directly to the production area as needed. In a few projects, it reduced stock levels by over 90 percent during a 14-day production schedule and had stable JIT deliveries.

With longer production schedules, Plastoform could provide accurate delivery dates and enable its suppliers to deliver right on time when the materials were required. Using Opcenter Scheduling enabled the team to automatically schedule 20,000 working hours compared to previously manually scheduling only 8,000 working hours with many difficulties. Plastoform also reduced the number of weekly setups by increasing planning efficiency and optimizing tooling. This increased production time by eight percent.

Another benefit of a longer planning horizon is that it enables the team to provide more accurate delivery dates, resulting in higher customer satisfaction with on-time deliveries.

’’Plastoform is an excellent example of what can be done with the right tool and the right team. As a result of using Opcenter Scheduling, it improved its ERP data, scheduling process and the quality of the entire supply chain,” explains Helena Trdan Campa, Opcenter Scheduling project manager at INEA.

After seeing the positive results of the first Opcenter Scheduling implementation, Plastoform is thinking about expanding its system with additional Opcenter Scheduling configuration to further improve its state-of-the-art scheduling process.

Plastoform is an excellent example of what can be done with the right tool and the right team. As a result of using Opcenter Scheduling, it improved its ERP data, scheduling process and the quality of the entire supply chain.

Helena Trdan Campa, Opcenter Scheduling Project Manager
INEA d.o.o

Masaba Canada: Improving operational efficiency in mining equipment manufacturing with Opcenter

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Heavy machinery

A leader in mining equipment
Masaba Inc. is a manufacturer of mining and aggregate equipment. Masaba Canada was first established in 2009, when Masaba Mining was experiencing a high demand for its equipment. The facility was originally located in Brampton, Ontario until 2013, when Masaba Canada relocated to a larger facility in Clarksburg, Ontario due to growth in the Canadian market. Masaba offers a complete line of portable and stationary conveyors and surge bins and machinery for crushing, screening and wash-ing. Masaba also designs custom equipment to customer specifications. All of the compa-ny‘s equipment is designed to withstand some of the hardest working environments.
Increasing demand“We’ve seen increased demand for higher tonnage, reduced setup and permanent custom-built plants,” says John Elmes, manufacturing manager at Masaba Increasing demand.

“We’ve seen increased demand for higher tonnage, reduced setup and permanent custom-built plants,” says John Elmes, manufacturing manager at Masaba Canada. “With custom plants, each one is different and difficult to plan.”Elmes’s job includes managing personnel and project timelines and overseeing product deliv-ery and material purchasing for the mining system products. Masaba’s Canadian plant has six departments – saw, machine, fabrication, sandblast, paint, and assembly – that produce permanent and mobile material handling systems.

Productivity for the busy season
Masaba customers often request design changes after the production for their order is underway. “The addition of extra features by customers during the build process, which can completely change the end product, the number of production hours and material resources for the work order, is one of our key challenges,” explains Elmes. Since Masaba systems are for mining and aggregate customers, most projects need to be in place by early March when the weather breaks. “Everybody wants the same delivery date, but order dates fluctuate, adding operational complexity,” says Elmes. “The question for us is how to get the most productivity during our busy season.

”Masaba sought to increase productivity through efficient production. The company hoped to improve production planning and scheduling using the capabilities of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The planning and scheduling tools of the ERP system were based on the infinite capacity planning model, which plans production activities backward from a fixed customer due date and does not consider resource constraints, existing work and commitments of the resources. Masaba needed a planning and scheduling solution that recognized its production resource constraints and enabled manag-ers to determine the impact of new orders or customer changes on current produc-tion. Such a solution could help Masaba improve planning and scheduling accuracy and flexibility, and update changing priori-ties, schedules and inventory plans. “Our biggest challenge with custom made-to- order equipment is understanding lead times and adjusting accordingly to what’s happening in the production facility,” says Elmes.

The solution: Opcenter APS

In 2019, Masaba selected Siemens’ Opcenter™ Adavanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software to help navigate operational obstacles and improve produc-tion planning and detailed scheduling. Opcenter APS is part of the Opcenter family of manufacturing operations man-agement solutions, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services. Masaba relied on the expertise of SNic Solutions, a Siemens solution partner spe-cializing in solving complex operations and supply chain problems in manufacturing. SNic Solutions provided and installed Opcenter APS and offered valuable insights on production planning and detailed scheduling efficiencies for Masaba while also providing an operations roadmap. Unlike the production planning module of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) sys-tem, Opcenter APS scheduling software takes into account existing manufacturing constraints such as materials, tools, opera-tors and capacity to generate production schedules. The software’s out-of-the-box versions provide an interactive interface to understand the current load on the shop floor and the impact of day-to-day changes on customer delivery. Advanced versions have an application programming interface (API) that has enabled SNic Solutions to build industry-specific extensions for preci-sion engineering, tire manufacturing, food production, plastics, packaging and other applications.

Add machinery or personnel?
One of the key decisions in manufacturing planning is whether to increase capacity through the addition of machinery or per-sonnel. After the introduction of Siemens’ Opcenter production scheduling, Masaba realized that increasing the number of machines was not always the answer. The MOM software’s visibility into Masaba’s production operations revealed that personnel utilization could achieve greater efficiency than the addition of more machines. Using Opcenter, Masaba can easily reallo-cate personnel as projects and timelines change. “Opcenter gives us the capability to reassign workers to different depart-ments and see how it affects the schedule,” says Elmes.

“If we see fabrica-tion is falling behind, then we add personnel to that department to meet weekly goals.”An essential feature of the software for Masaba is the ability to conduct “what-if” experiments. With uncertain demand, Masaba wanted to ensure that its manu-facturing would fulfill revenue-producing orders rather than expand the inventories of its distributors. Using Opcenter, produc-tion schedulers can insert a new work order between two existing work orders and accurately determine the impact of the reschedule. This gave Masaba the ability to allocate manufacturing orders to the shop floor that were “make to order” versus “make to stock.”

The efficiency gains continue at Masaba as the company moves past the first phase of the Opcenter implementation. Masaba was able to expand utilization of its nine-per-son fabrication department by adding a third work order to the department. The software recognized, by way of capacity usage graphs, that two work orders only needed to meet 60 percent completion for a particular week, allowing a third work order to be added. “Opcenter removes these inefficiencies and shows that adding more machinery isn’t always the answer,” says Elmes.
Streamlined integration with ERP
In 2020, Masaba extended the integration of Opcenter with the company’s ERP sys-tem. SNic Solutions added its order accelerator extension, which imports bills-of-materials (BOMs) from the compa-ny’s ERP system directly into Opcenter.

Quick answers for customers
Masaba’s data-centered approach and its break from older operational approaches also delivers quick answers to customers on delivery timelines or changes in project scope. “Masaba is always improving cus-tomer responsiveness and experience, and Opcenter helped us understand our work order timelines and quickly respond to customers regarding delivery dates,” says Elmes. The operational efficiencies revealed by production planning and scheduling soft-ware are helping companies to reduce machinery expenditures.

“Production scheduling as the first step to digital trans-formation in manufacturing operations management is improving schedule attain-ment and helping customers avoid unnecessary capital expenditures,” says Nikhil Joshi, founder of SNic Solutions. In addition to increasing manufacturing efficiency, Masaba discovered that its sales department could use Opcenter to com-municate project timelines more quickly and provide more data to its customers based on calculated timelines. Masaba improved its on-time deliveries by 15 per-cent in 2020, a critical achievement in an industry where delivery timelines are complex.

Using Opcenter to more than double the amount of scheduling with the same size team

Product: Opcenter
Industry: Bicycle

It all started in the red barn

The Trek Bicycle Corporation was started in a small red barn in rural Waterloo, Wisconsin in 1976. There were five welders on staff the first year, who produced just over 900 steel touring frames for the firm’s first customers. Since then, the company has grown to thousands of employees in Trek stores, testing facilities and offices around the world. A lot has changed since those early days, except for Trek’s commitment to its founding principles to build great products and make the world a better place to live and ride.

Now Trek resides in a world-class research and development (R&D) facility a mile up the road from the red barn. From there it engineers and builds bikes and gear for riders around the world, from first-time riders to the professionals on the teams Trek owns that race in the world’s biggest events such as the Tour de France.

Project One

Trek’s Project One is a program that gives customers control over designing the road, mountain or electric bike of their dreams. If a customer can imagine it, Trek can make it a reality in its Project One paint shop. Project One customers have the option to choose from a pre-set combination of custom colors, paint schemes and components, or dream up a wild idea for a unique bike.

The manufacturing, painting and building of Project One bikes is performed at the Waterloo headquarters and the facility in Hartmannsdorf, Germany. Trek also manufactures the high-end carbon wheels for the custom bikes in Waterloo.

Trek has made the custom bike process streamlined, fast and easy for customers, taking every action they can to minimize lead times. That has been a challenge when there are parts shortages, but Opcenter™ software, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services, has enabled Trek to see the full picture, prioritize components for customer bikes and allocate parts to build in the most efficient way possible.

“Thanks to Opcenter Advanced Planning & Scheduling, we are able see in advance that we are going to have the parts available to build twice as much as was previously possible,” says Eric Schultz, master scheduling manager at Trek.

Digital transformation supports build-to-order

The Trek Project One program is a high-mix, low-volume, build-to-order business. Its increasing reliance on digital tools provides the best experience for its customers and partners. When a customer places an order, a production date is generated based on the availability of parts and capacity at the time of the order. Trek forecasts the components they need to buy based on what they think the customer preferences will be, rather than purchasing components for a fixed amount of production by model.

Trek’s digital transformation enables the customer to design their dream bike on a screen, place their order through their local bike shop, get an estimate on a lead time, obtain email/photo notifications during the paint and build process, and ultimately realize their concept in physical form.

“Previously, we used SQL reports and standard features in our ERP system that worked just fine on a smaller scale, but on a larger scale it just wasn’t tenable,” says Mike Lodl, director of global manufacturing. “We knew with continued business growth the current process wouldn’t be sustainable without adding more and more schedulers.”

The limitations of the existing way of working meant Trek could not test any new scenarios, do any longer term capacity analysis as supply chain issues arose, and move work order dates and sales order dates, which was a time-consuming manual process that limited growth.

Optimizing lead times

For Project One, using Opcenter enables Trek to get real-time information, marry it with part and capacity availability and deliver a top-notch bike to their customers and dealers in the shortest possible time while being as transparent and helpful as possible along the way.

“The dynamic calendar in Opcenter really helps us optimize our lead times for our customers based on how we are working and operating in each of our departments,” says Schultz.

Prior to the pandemic, Trek faced normal supply chain and inventory issues such as delays, nonconforming materials, natural disasters impacting delivery or a variety of other logistics issues. When a key component was delayed, Trek had to manually move hundreds or thousands of work order and sale order dates, then they had to find work to fill the schedule back up to keep the plant running.

“This was an incredibly time-consuming and manual process,” says Schultz. “Being a necessary, but nonvalue-added process, we knew we should try to automate or speed the process up with some type of software solution.

“There wasn’t an efficient way to expedite work or plan production if our supply chain and logistics team were able to get components in earlier.

“There were days I was spending hours manually entering dates, but now thanks to Opcenter I can use my time to do analysis or find other ways to optimize our business. Opcenter frees up hours of my time for higher added-value tasks.”

Seeking sustainability

One option was a mass data upload process, but that wouldn’t provide the analysis or intelligence Trek needed. The company reviewed several software solutions, but in the final analysis determined Opcenter was the right choice.

“Ultimately, we knew that Opcenter Advanced Planning and Schedule software was going to be the solution,” says Schultz.

“When we stated what the scope of the work was going to be, or what we wanted the software to do for us, Siemens preferred partner SNic was the only company out of three that told us, ’Yes, we’ve done that with Opcenter for other customers.’ We even spoke with other users who confirmed that they were using Opcenter in the same way we wanted to for our business.

“The combination of the software and the SNic’s expertise was unique. The team understood our challenges and were partners in developing the custom logic solution specific to our business, and Opcenter stood out for its out-of-the-box options and functionality. We also liked the fact that Opcenter had been used more widely in the industry than the other products we evaluated.”

The Opcenter advantage

According to Schultz, “Opcenter automated a lot of work. Our scheduling team would spend hours updating thousands and thousands of work order and sales order dates each time we discovered a supply issue that we couldn’t resolve. Opcenter freed up the scheduling team to do more analysis instead of spending time changing thousands of dates.

“Opcenter can help us understand what we will have components for to build in each department over time. This helps us understand where we may need to train or hire employees.

“We can manage more than twice the amount of work we used to with the same size team and we’ve avoided countless production shutdowns to ensure employees remained gainfully employed in production.”

Lodl states, “For Trek customers to be able to have the experience of getting their dream bike months ahead of time has made their buying experience outstanding.”