Even though KROHNE Group production sites are fully digitised, until recently all the data was confined in separate silos. Since all those systems could not be synchronised, it was not possible for the manufacturer of industrial instrumentation to have an overview of the data and real-time information. After two years scouring the market for the right partner, the Group eventually found Ometa: “They built a booking.com for the industry.”

KROHNE Group designs and manufactures high-tech industrial process measuring instrumentation. The solutions are marketed in many sectors, from oil and gas extraction to water purification or the food industry.

Operations Manager Leon de Borgie: “The entire product development takes place in R&D centres located in the Group’s so-called lead factories in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany.” In addition, the Group has 12 production sites worldwide, including in China, the United States and Russia. They manufacture the products developed in the lead factories.

No overview or real-time information

Leon de Borgie: “Every KROHNE site is fully digitised. We keep data in our systems and databases for every product that rolls off the production line. Until recently, however, these systems could not communicate with each other. For example, if a customer inquired about the status of his order, our sales rep might have to contact four or five different colleagues to track that order. Same story whenever a change or update had to be made to a product after ordering.”

Long story short: nobody had a bird’s eye view and the teams were sometimes overtaken by events. Leon de Borgie: “Our employees could not rely on real-time information for their work. This was due to the fact that we had to extract bits of information from each separate system and then use the data to put together a complex jigsaw puzzle. We urgently needed to get rid of this outdated working method to make our sites future ready and streamline the exchange of information between them.”

“We keep data for every product in systems and databases. Until recently, however, they could not communicate with each other.”

Ometa offers the best solution

 KROHNE Group spent two years scouring the market for a potential partner. Leon de Borgie: “Whenever would-be suppliers presented their proof of concept, we faced the same issues: either a lot of customisation was required to align the platform with the production sites, or the provider had proposed a solution involving the horizontal or bus integration of our existing systems, with a high risk of synchronisation and communication issues.”

“Ometa, on the other hand, came up with a vertical integration solution. Their plan was to create a single interface above our existing applications and databases. Data from all underlying systems would end up in one digital dashboard accessible to all relevant departments.”

“Data from all underlying systems ends up in one digital dashboard accessible to all relevant departments.”

A ‘Booking.com’ for the production site

The result: the possibility to track and trace every product in the system with one push of a button. In addition, the solution would allow employees to intervene quickly and efficiently to resolve issues during production, and that directly through a single digital workplace. KROHNE Group definitely saw the merit of the proposed vertical integration and decided to partner up with Ometa.

Leon de Borgie: “You can compare it with booking.com: not only does it allow you to check room availability in real time; you can also book the hotel room of your choice directly. Ometa actually built a kind of booking.com for the industry.”

The interface is currently being rolled out in the European lead factories, and the other production sites will be next in a second stage. Even though the Netherlands lead factory was the first to start, the implementation has already gone further in the UK. The existing Dutch database structures are the cause of the delay.

“Ometa actually built a kind of booking.com for the industry.”

An expert team with extensive experience

 Leon de Borgie: “We had no fewer than 50,000 different routings in our ERP system for 20 different products.” An unexpected problem that has put a brake on implementation. Yet, in collaboration with the Ometa experts, the KROHNE team is currently unravelling this particular tangle. Leon de Borgie: “You can tell by the team members’ resolute approach that they are not novices in this siutation. With more than 20 years of experience supplying solutions to manufacturing companies, they are quite familiar with all the possible obstacles.

In short, for KROHNE Group, Ometa is the ideal sparring partner. Leon de Borgie: “Since the rollout is still in full swing, it is still far too early to measure ROI. One thing is certain, however: we are building a lean company together.”

Smurfit Kappa is a world leader in paper-based packaging solutions, such as corrugated packaging, displays and the ingenious ‘bag in box’ solution. The Irish multinational has operations in 35 countries, employs some 46,000 people worldwide and has a turnover of 8.9 billion euros. In the Benelux, the company launched ‘Customer Connect’, an ambitious automation project. Unlocking the ERP system was a crucial aspect of the project, which they entrusted to Ometa.

The Smurfit Kappa ‘Customer Connect’ project was launched in the Benelux by Arno Voets, Controller at Smurfit Kappa MNL: “Our aim is to get customers to stop viewing our operating companies as separate entities, and rather consider them as part of a whole: ‘One Smurfit Kappa’. To achieve this, we want to do more than supply the best products: we also provide our customers with consolidated data.”

No stock overview

 The project is composed of two phases. The first phase focused on the ERP system: “One of the problems was that any given customer could only track an order through the customer zone of the operating company with which it had placed an order. The system did not have the capacity to see whether the same customer had orders placed with multiple operating companies. In other words: there was no overarching real-time overview.”

“There was an additional challenge in that, in order to get a complete picture, we needed data from legacy systems, which differ depending on the operating company,” Arno continues. “Some operating companies, for example, work with a Corrugated Business Information System (COBIS), while others don’t. This leads to data often being presented in different formats.”

Chosen for its flexibility

 Arno therefore had to look for a software partner. “Even though I had invited proposals from several contenders, Ometa stood head and shoulders above the rest. I had no doubts about their expertise: a few years earlier I had already attended one of their presentations on system integration at an event. Their flexibility is their main asset. Many software companies tend to build a complex new system that only they know, making sure you, the customer, are no longer able to operate or adapt it. Ometa, on the other hand, proposed a solution that allowed us to preserve our existing ERP system.”

“Ometa proposed a solution that allowed us to preserve our existing ERP system.” – Arno Voets, Controller at Smurfit Kappa MNL

 

Ron Jongeneelen, Business Analyst at Smurfit Kappa Vandra, was also closely involved with the project. Ron: “Before we started working on the technical aspect, we first surveyed our customers in the Benelux. We asked them to tell us exactly which information and user experience they wanted to find on our new customer platform.”

And that’s where Ometa came in. Ron: “In essence Ometa placed a framework on top of the existing ERP system. An ‘extra layer’, as it were. The difference is huge: this integration allows customers to log in only once to get a real-time overview of all their pending orders, regardless of the operating company. With this extra layer, it is possible to consolidate data from different systems and write data back into the source system. In addition, companies are automatically linked to a group or parent company and we anticipate customers with questions about their stock. For example, they no longer need to contact our internal sales service.”

“Ometa placed a framework on top of our existing ERP system, an ‘extra layer’ as it were.” – Ron Jongeneelen, Business Analyst at Smurfit Kappa Vandra

Ometa in the lead

In a transformation like this one, it is important to address and communicate every step systematically. Arno: “What I really appreciated is that Ometa took the lead in this project. We had and still have a fruitful and close relationship with their team. They have organised various info and training sessions and are undeniable experts at communicating technical matters clearly.”

Pilot project with potential

The new system has been up-and-running since early 2019. Arno: “About 150 customers with COBIS as a legacy system are now using the new portal. The plan now is to roll this out to the other customers, as well as operating companies that use other legacy systems. The global potential: 370 operating companies and 60,000 customers.”

“After a successful test run, wed are quite motivated on the eve of phase two,” adds Arno. “During that phase, we plan to study ways of offering our customers a tailored order service, depending on their order volume. For customers who order periodically, for example, we are working on software that can independently extract orders from emails or SMS messages. We already have a win-win: thanks to the framework, our employees save time while our customers now have an overview and increased convenience. And that’s what matters to us: working together towards our customer’s success.”

Waterleiding Maatschappij Limburg (WML) supplies drinking water to more than 500,000 households and 15,000 companies in the province of Limburg. The Ometa framework enables the drinking water company to link its ERP system to SharePoint Online. The result: streamlined document management and higher efficiency.

While all WML key data about customers, suppliers, projects and employees had been neatly structured in SAP, the Limburg drinking water company’s ERP system, for many years, the associated documents had been scattered here and there on local file servers, individual hard drives and the mailboxes of employees.

 

Framework as USP

Project Manager Aart Nap: “People were e-mailing documents to each other and storing them somewhere locally for editing purposes and to forward them again later. This kept happening until we got up to 19 versions of some files. As a result, it would take a long time to track down the most recent version of a document. Not to mention the risk of error.”

Improvements had to be made to streamline and update the system. That is why, three years ago, WML started looking for a partner to implement a document management system. Since the organisation wanted to remain within the Microsoft portfolio, the selected option was SharePoint in an Office365 environment. Aart Nap: “Among the proposals submitted by the different SharePoint implementers, the Ometa concept stood out immediately. They were the only ones to provide us with an integrated solution for our information management in the form of a framework between SharePoint Online and SAP.”

“It would take a long time to track down the most recent version of a document. Not to mention the risk of error.“ – Aart Nap

Automatic file creation

 The entire WML office environment has now been switched to the Ometa framework. The next phase of the rollout will concern the field staff. Kay Nauman, Functional Application Specialist Microsoft & Office365, tells us more: “SharePoint Online is our only access point to view and edit documents and associated ERP data in real time. The entire system runs in the cloud, which means that employees can work any time anywhere, without the need for cumbersome login procedures or local file storage.”

But there is more: the Ometa framework automatically creates files based on the structures in the ERP system. Kay Nauman: “When a new employee starts working, for example, a personnel file is created as soon as the newcomer’s data is entered in SAP. Same story for customers, suppliers, projects, etc.: specific actions in the ERP environment trigger the creation of files in SharePoint. What an employee will or will not be able to see depends on his or her role in the organisation.”

“SharePoint Online is our only access point to view and edit documents and associated ERP data in real time.” –  Kay Nauman

A boost for productivity

The new working method has already begun to pay off as employees waste less time searching, editing and sharing files. Plus, they are also 100% sure that they work in the correct version of a file, which improves the quality of information. Aart Nap: “Research by Gartner shows that an employee spends on average an hour a week looking for documents. If we can halve that time, we will have achieved an incredible time saving for WML at an organisational level.”

Kay Nauman: “Even though the various departments are still getting used to the Ometa solution, in the foreseeable future it will lead to improved mutual cooperation and higher productivity. In short, it is thanks to this solution that we can really enter the digital age.”

Digitaal Sociaal Dossier schakelt een versnelling hoger met overgang naar O365

De transformatie van de klassieke papieren dossiers naar een digitale variant komt in een stroomversnelling door de beschikbaarheid van het Digitaal Sociaal Dossier op O365.
Daar het merendeel van de openbare besturen reeds de kaart van Office365 heeft getrokken, volgt het DSD deze logische evolutie.

Via DSD op O365 zijn de sociale dossiers real time beschikbaar van op elk device, en is er een adaptieve weergave voor mobiele toestellen.
Nu werken op afstand de norm wordt en medewerkers op elke moment over de correcte informatie moeten kunnen beschikken, is de toegang tot data langs deze weg steeds gegarandeerd!

De mogelijkheden van het DSD werden in deze versie nog verder uitgebreid met functies die het voor een gebruiker nog eenvoudiger maken om zijn/haar dossier te beheren.
We denken hierbij aan drag&drop van meerdere documenten met automatische opening tagging-scherm, de archivering-functie om documenten naar een archief-pagina te verplaatsen, de eenvoudige export-functie voor het opstellen van inspectiedossiers of de toegang voor raadsleden tot documenten met een specifieke tag.

Het Ometa framework zorgt voor de automatische dossiercreatie in O365 wanneer er dossiers in de back-office applicatie worden toegevoegd of gewijzigd.
Bij grote papierstromen is ook de integratie met Arco scanning ter beschikking, waardoor gescande documenten via een QR-code in het juiste dossier en de betreffende rubriek worden afgeleverd.

Het DSD op O365 is dus een onontbeerlijk hulpmiddel bij de overgang naar een digitale werking binnen het bestuur.
Daarnaast zal het DSD blijven Innoveren (we denken hierbij bv. aan een connectie met MS Teams) om de gebruikers maximaal te ondersteunen in hun dagelijkse werking.

Wenst u meer informatie over de werking van het DSD, aarzel dan niet om contact te nemen met Isabelle Dehond via Isabelle.Dehond@Cipalschaubroeck.
Bij onze partner Ometa kan u terecht bij Luc Deleu via Luc.Deleu@Ometa.net.

About Krohne

Krohne is a leading manufacturer of flowmeters, a specialized equipment for measuring liquids and gas flows. Krohne’s products are used for different types of applications and are used by, for example, water companies, nuclear power plants, the oil industry, pharmacy, mining and in many other sectors and companies. Due to the large variety in use, the customer often defines his own specifications. For example, the customer can decide on the size of a pipe, the type of meter, the used materials, the specific configuration and much more. This results in a very wide range of possibilities on the production line.

You can only complete the sales puzzle if you control all production pieces

In parallel with Krohne’s wide variety of production possibilities, the information landscape in which all data relating to sales and production are processed is also very fragmented. In order to increase the efficiency of the production process and to optimize the service to its customers, Krohne therefore looked for a solution to optimize the cooperation and information flow between sales and production.

The objective of the project is to make the expectations that are linked to a sales order transparent for all stakeholders in the chain. Via a digital collaboration platform, Krohne wants to give all the involved departments a clear insight into the status of production of every single part. From shop floor to top floor. As soon as there is an issue on the production floor (e.g. a line stop, a material shortage, a resource that is late), the priorities and decision-making can be adjusted in real time at both production and sales level. This is possible because all information is made transparent in a single integrated platform. The ultimate goal is to involve the customer directly into this collaboration platform whenever there is a deviation or lack of clarity.

Until recently, the flow of information still passed through Excel sheets, e-mails and paper. Consequently, for every small change in the chain, the latest information had to be gathered from several sources. This wasted precious time because people were busy looking for information and analyzing the latest status or change. This had an impact on the speed of decision-making and collaboration.

Krohne pays a lot of attention to customer satisfaction. In this context, we consider the timely delivery of all pieces of a sales order as the complete puzzle. In order to complete this puzzle and thus meet customer expectations, it is necessary for the organization to have all production items (or pieces or parts) under control. Where today the ERP ensures the creation of production orders on a batch level, effective single piece follow-up is not evident. The link between the production order and the final sales order can only be made through a complex search in the ERP system.

By introducing a One-Piece-Flow follow-up, Krohne can manage the production process more flexibly for everyone in the chain. This allows the company to improve the efficiency of the production process. On the other hand, when we look at the relationship between Krohne and its customers, the larger whole becomes more transparent. As soon as one piece in the One-Piece-Flow can make sure that the customer’s expectations cannot be fulfilled, the digital platform automatically gives a notification that is visible to both the production operators and the sales organization. This information sharing throughout the chain facilitates much faster decision-making, which means that timely adjustments can be made depending on priorities and expectations.

In reality, a small change in the production process can affect the larger picture. For example, a resource that is too late, a non-confirmation of a component, a line stop, etc., can all affect the final delivery. Thanks to the analysis of all information flows, Krohne can now map all the pieces of the puzzle that are necessary to complete the puzzle. Responding quickly and adequately to any deviation can greatly increase lead times, efficiency and the reliability of deliveries.

Planned situation vs actual situation

Thanks to graphical displays, you can trace up production status up to single production part level. We consider each individual product (‘piece’ or ‘part’) as a case. Each case contains all linked sales order data, production order data, drawings, quality information, supplier details, and so on. All this information comes from different underlying systems and is brought together in one digital overview.

 

Integrated portals give Krohne a clear insight into the planned situation. The platform enable the company to compare this in real-time with the actual situation on the production line. This gives Krohne the opportunity to intervene immediately as soon as the planning of an order is in danger. In order to create this platform, no systems or applications were replaced. It is thanks to the combination of the active systems (data) and the right people (decisions) that the improvement is ensured.

 

When a problem is identified in the production process and the planning might be affected, a signal is automatically sent through the entire stakeholder chain. Thanks to the platform, all those involved look at the same version of the truth. This has tremendous value. The operator receives a warning for the affected production orders, the sales organization is notified of the linked sales orders and in the future, even the customer will directly be invited to the platform to discuss the situation in real-time. This way of transparent collaboration offers the possibility to discuss whether to order alternative goods, to do partial deliveries or to change planning.

Efficient collaboration between all stakeholders

In other words, the entire chain is controlled based on events. Based on data in the ERP system, the priority of the orders in the queue can be planned or adjusted in real-time. This allows Krohne to validate the delivery time, stock availability, outsourcing and possible non-confirmations at any time. Every change in the chain can then immediately influence the priorities in the production facility and become a reason to inform the sales organization and the customer.

 

Thanks to this new way of working, Krohne can cooperate more efficiently with its suppliers and customers. This allows them to act immediately in any situation without using e-mails, phone calls and searching for information that is distributed via several information islands.

 

The speed of communication has increased enormously because all stakeholders look at the same information in the same platform. From the shop floor right up to customer level, everyone works with a single real-time version of the truth. The aim of Krohne is to improve the throughput times and the production process with as much as 40% thanks to the current digitization project. Moreover, thanks to horizontal integration in the chain, Krohne expects to give a strong boost to the relationship with its suppliers and customers.

The foundations for a smart factory

The current project ensures that Krohne becomes even faster and more efficient. But the company is already preparing for the future. This means that Krohne also wants to make its factory smarter. The One-Piece-Flow follow-up is a first step towards the digital shadow of the production piece. In the digital shadow, process information can be added in addition to logistic data and production data. The digital shadow or the digital representation of the piece forms the basis to grow to a Smart Factory.

 

Would you like to know the full story? Then register for free for the knowledge events on 13 November at OMC Turnhout or on 22 November at Krohne Dordrecht, where Krohne will give an inspiring presentation on this topic!

 

About Pidpa

  • Water company
  • Approximately 700 employees
  • Provides around 500,000 customers or 1.2 million inhabitants of drinking water in the Belgian province of Antwerp
  • Extensive sewerage activity
  • Pipeline of approximately 12,700 km
  • IT service support of 30 employees

Looking for an easy way to integrate

Pidpa has many internal and external stakeholders such as employees, suppliers, customers and board members. As a result, the organization has a lot of data and processes to manage in different systems. For example, customer data, orders and HR data are managed in SAP, documents are processed in the eDOCS DMS and geographical information is stored in GIS (ESRI). Pidpa has about 700 employees. To work even more efficiently, the company decided a few years ago to build an intranet based on SharePoint technology. Subsequently, an extranet was set up with secure access for external partners and board members to collaborate on projects and orders.

Pidpa was convinced that the web portals should contain integrated information. Namely, by collecting all relevant data, users have instant access to the information they need without losing time whilst searching for this information. Therefore, the question was “How do you integrate documents from the eDOCS DMS with data from the SAP and MS / SQL databases?”

Pidpa initially started with custom programming but soon realized that this was very time-consuming and complicated. Moreover, it required a high level of technical expertise. Another disadvantage was that this situation allowed limited possibilities for standardization and therefore there was hardly any reuse. That is why Pidpa started looking for a more suitable solution.

The requirements for Pidpa were clear. They wanted a tool that they could use and manage independently. Moreover, guidance, support and accessibility of the supplier were also important aspects in their choice. While they were exploring alternatives in the market, Pidpa attended a Beginner Training from Ometa. This session showed them how to integrate systems through configuration. The training was a revelation and Pidpa decided to take the test.

A stable DIY integration tool

When it comes to technical choices, Pidpa always strives to make stable decisions for a long-term solution. That is why the IT department finds it very important to make informed choices. In this context, being able to start small to see if the expectations are actually fulfilled plays an important role. While experimenting with a new technology, it is also important for Pidpa to have close contact with the technology supplier. After all, it is not just about what the software can do, but also about how the relationship with the provider is. This is how Pidpa started a trial license. Also in terms of investment, it was important to be able to start small and then grow. This way, the management could be convinced systematically.

 

Pidpa strives to realize 80% independently with the Ometa framework. This gives them freedom of choice and it enables them to change things quickly and flexibly. For complex issues they can of course rely on the support and expertise of Ometa. Thanks to the Ometa framework, Pidpa found a stable solution that meets their needs. They found a simple way to integrate with SAP, eDOCS and AD. Ometa also offers various other integration options thanks to the built-in OData service. This offers them a uniform working method, which is a great advantage.

 

In addition, the tool is easy to use because it is only a matter of configuration. As a result, for some solutions the development time is reduced from weeks to days. Finally, Pidpa now has a tool that they can manage and use independently. This gives them a lot of freedom and flexibility to change or adjust their portals and solutions.

 

Because Ometa offers a no-code platform, we can work with the tool ourselves. That’s important to us because next to autonomy, it also offers us more speed and flexibility (Tom Van Eysendeyk, Pidpa)

 

Improved internal communication

With around 700 employees, Pidpa has the constant need to optimize communication. For example, a few years ago the water company made the intranet much more dynamic and ensured that the quality and speed of information was increased. Initially, there was a huge amount of e-mail traffic within the organization, including e-mails to large groups of people. That is why Pidpa decided to make news reports and internal information such as emergency messages and announcements available via an integrated intranet. Through the new intranet, employees can make holiday requests and sickness notifications and these actions immediately pushed towards the colleagues of HR.

 

Thanks to the direct integration with SAP, an efficient way to follow up on all kinds of requests became possible and different actions are now managed in a uniform manner. The intranet is accessible to all employees. For the workers who are always on the road, the intranet is made available on tablets. This last example is closely related to the fact that Pidpa has a diverse staff park. This means that there are employees who are very familiar with SAP, but at the same time there are also many employees who have no experience with the system. For the latter group, the integrated intranet means that they can receive information from and can write back to SAP in realtime via user-friendly SharePoint portals.

 

A very striking example is the registration of deviations in SAP. Deviations can be seen as defects or malfunctions (e.g. to a sewer system). Previously, it often occurred that employees had no access and / or knowledge of SAP. Consequently, a manual data transfer was necessary with the additional disadvantage that the data was not always up to date. This has been solved because employees can now register and update deviations in SAP via simple web forms.

 

Collaboration with external stakeholders

In order to collaborate better with external stakeholders such as partners and directors and to manage projects and orders efficiently, Pidpa has developed a sophisticated extranet. Within this context, they use Ometa to combine the right data from different data sources. A good example of this is the project portal.

Pidpa has about 300 sewerage projects and about 1200 distribution projects. For each project there are several people involved who each prepare and share documents. An important side note here is that a large number of these documents are created by external parties. For the larger sewerage projects we talk about 850 documents per project. The exchange of this large number of documents was initially done in various ways: on paper, via USB sticks, e-mails, Dropbox, et cetera. This created many challenges in terms of overview and it was not always easy to obtain the correct and latest version of documents. The completeness of information was sometimes also compromised.

As a result, the objective was threefold: to improve communication between stakeholders, to optimize the information structure and to reduce e-mail traffic. Pidpa was able to realize this thanks to a project portal that is connected to SAP in real time. With this web portal, the water company now has a uniform way of working together with all the different external parties where each party can work from his / her role. By adding Nintex workflows, Pidpa can steer and follow up the projects in a simple way. An additional advantage is that, thanks to Ometa’s technology, project portals are fully set up and automatically created based on state changes in SAP. This means that setting up a new project portal happens entirely independent of the Pidpa ICT service.

Another example is the order portal with which Pidpa is able to collaborate efficiently with contractors. Within the portal, orders are made available for contractors and contractors can also return documents. The status of every order managed by a contractor is transferred to SAP in real time. This way of working has a positive impact on the planning of the water company.

Picture: suppliers can consult their planned orders via webportals that are connected realtime with Pidpa’s SAP.

 

In addition to providing us with the right technology, Ometa also encourages us to learn from solutions that they have created for other customers. In this way, we can reuse these solutions for our own benefit. This provides us with knowledge sharing and it helps us to build new solutions even faster. (Tom Van Eysendeyk, Pidpa)

About Duracell

Duracell is the global market leader in the production of alkaline batteries, specialty and rechargeable batteries. Since the company was founded in the 1940s, it has grown to become an iconic brand when it comes to providing devices with power with compact and durable batteries. The company is known for its high quality and superior performance. The Duracell plant in Aarschot (Belgium) was founded in 1967 and nowadays it counts 450 employees. By 2020, it wants to be listed as a true “Industry 4.0 Factory”.

 

Therefore, in 2017, DuracellOmeta and implementation partner Devoteam started an Industry 4.0 pilot project to raise the quality of its batteries and the efficiency of the production process to a higher level.

In 2016, Duracell did a research to find out where the biggest losses were situated on the production floor. They conducted a content analysis on all kinds of data and documents that were used within the factory. The results indicated that each year they spend more than 20,000 hours on processing documents, both digital (Excel, pdf) as on paper. Therefore, the first thing to do was to eliminate all of this paperwork and Excel sheets. In order to do so, they found Ometa as a technology partner.

During the last 20 years, over 800,000 files were gathered in more than 156 different folders. Eventually, this created chaos and employees were hardly able to find the right documents. To cope with this problem, Duracell decided to implement SharePoint as a Document Management System (DMS). This allows the company to only work with current data and to eliminate 80% of the initial 800,000 files.

Untill recently, the typical flow was that documents were being filled in, after which a key-user entered the data into his or her system. The information was then printed out again and passed on to a planner or a technician. Why? Simply because it is impossible for operators on the shop floor to work with all of the underlying systems in which data is processed. Now however, thanks to the Ometa framework, this complexity is removed. Instead, all systems and documents are linked to each other in one central SharePoint platform.

All the information about production planning, production quantities, waste percentages, maintenance, safety and quality control which used to be processed manually in different places, now flows directly and automatically towards the digital workspace in SharePoint. This is how the information is now immediately available on the work floor.

Thanks to this real time connectivity of all data into a digital workspace environment, all exports and macros of any system towards Excel have become unnecessary. Instead, these are now replaced with real time portals. Whereas in the past, technicians needed to look and search for documents, they now get them delivered at the time when they need the information. Ultimately, for Duracell, working paperless has a huge positive impact on the speed of its factory. Moreover, this new way of working will allow the company to save about 650,000 euros over the next three years.

With the current paperless project, we will be using less documents and this will allow us to save about 650,000 euros over the next three years.

From speed to smart factory

In the next three years, their new owner will invest 50 million euros in Duracell. The Industry 4.0 project takes up about half of that budget. Compared to the total investment,  the costs for  creating the paperless platforms is rather small, while the efficiency gain is great. Tasks are now assigned to employees through computers and mobile tablets. Tasks in red indicate that there is a problem and that these need to be solved first. Once these critical tasks are completed, they disappear from the screen and this is automatically processed via SharePoint. In other words, operators have access to dashboards on which the most recent information is shown in a straightforward visual form. This results in a higher production output, but Duracell’s main goal is to improve the quality of their batteries even more.

 

A battery is made in several steps, which we refer to as transformations. Today, these transformations are checked via samples. The factory in Aarschot produces around 700 batteries per minute per line and a total of 5 million batteries per day.  In the future, Duracell wants to be able to check every single battery that is produced. Not on a sample basis, but in real time. Therefore, smart cameras and scanners will be installed to digitize and continuously monitor every transformation.

 

We get more than 30 data points per battery or approximately 180 million data points per day. This means we receive a lot of data. Consequently, we will use machine learning techniques to predict whether the quality of a battery is good or bad. The goal is to reach a situation in which a technician receives certain signals indicating that he needs to intervene in order to guarantee a high quality.

 

If we can skip the samples, then the production line does not have to be stopped anymore for quality checks. This already yields 2% of improvement. In the past, whenever a sample indicated a bad result, then production had to be set aside up until the previous measurement. That created a lot of reprocessing costs. In contrast, when we will be checking real time and per battery if the quality is good, then the amount of scrap will be reduced a lot.

Digital Smart Assistant

So Duracell will capture the critical parameters (images, dimensions, quantities, etc.) of the various transformations in the assembly process online and in real time. This data will be linked in real time per individual battery to other parameters from other systems (process MES, logistics SAP, environment, etc.). In combination with algorithms for machine learning, this data allows to predict the quality of the product and to alert the production worker in case of deviations.

 

The final product of the Industry 4.0 project is a system that collects information within a certain context (product, production line, etc.) whereby all available data is pushed towards the knowledge worker and he is also offered suggestions based on past results. Therefore, the knowledge worker is informed at an early stage if the system suspects that problems may occur on the basis of past experiences.

 

The predicted quality data and potential tasks are made available to the technicians in an unambiguous way through a clear Office 365 interface. The technicians can then take the necessary actions based on this information to adjust the process in the context of predictive maintenance. Based on notifications, they are informed of potential events such as a line stop, quality issues or breakdowns. Through this warning system the quality of the products as well as the process itself is monitored and Duracell will soon be able to eliminate 80% of the current manual samples.

 

Together with the continuous quality improvement, the goal of the project is to create a Digital Smart Assistant. This is a reinforcement of the operator who receives advice and suggestions from the system on the basis of the obtained input parameters. The knowledge worker can accept suggestions (positive stimuli) but also ignore suggestions. The Digital Smart Assistant will mean a huge innovation on the production floor and it will actually transform Duracell Aarschot into a true factory of the future.

Success lies in the people

Two factors are very important in this transition. First of all, it is important to divide the project into manageable parts that you solve one by one. That is one of the biggest challenges. Secondly, you need the support of the entire company. You need the support of the management, you need strong leadership and need the cooperation of people on the work floor to get things going. This requires vision and organization.

For this project, Duracell has put together a ‘core team’ with staff who voluntarily participate. Especially the operators are involved in this project. It is not technically inspired and the people on the floor decide together with their team leaders what they find important. Engineering and IT follow that core team to achieve what is put forward. We always work with a lead model: we make a proof of concept and we work that out with input from several people.

After that, one or two teams test it out in reality and they then provide feedback. Based on this, the solution is rebuilt or optimized and only at that point the system is rolled out. We therefore proceed step by step and the input of the employees is very crucial. We also communicate a lot with the staff about this. The whole project is very interactive and the final application will not come as a surprise to our staff.

 

You need the support of management, you need strong leadership and you need the cooperation of the shop floor to get it all going. This requires vision and organization.

 

About WML

  • Drinking water company in Limburg province, The Netherlands
  • Approximately 400 employees
  • Provides around 530,000 private individuals and approximately 14,500 business customers with drinking water
  • Has a pipeline of approximately 8,800 km

Trigger for improvement

WML is a professional organization that constantly pays attention to optimizing its business processes. A few years ago, the idea arose to bring collaboration and sharing of documents and information to a higher level. This implies that seeking and finding documents and information about, for example, contracts, projects or suppliers must be easy and that employees can work (together) more efficiently. In addition, the reliability and accuracy of information play an important role. Ultimately, an improved working method would have a positive impact on both the professionalism of the organization and the internal cooperation.

At WML, the realization grew that a digitalized information management would increase the efficiency of the organization. This meant that there was a need for a Document Management System. After exploring the market, WML became convinced of the possibilities of Microsoft Office 365. The goal was to achieve more speed because employees would lose less time searching, editing and sharing documents. As a result, this would improve the quality of information because employees would certainly work in the right version of documents. In the end, this should result in higher productivity in the field of information management.

Why WML has chosen for Ometa

To achieve these goals, WML conducted a market survey in which Ometa was ultimately chosen to take care of the implementation. In this choice, two elements were decisive for WML. With Ometa they had a tool that is capable of seamlessly connecting SAP, which contains their processes and resulting structures, to Office 365. In addition, Ometa offers the possibility to automatically provision sites, which also made the Ometa framework the best option in terms of technical manageability.

Within the WML solution, Ometa creates the bridge between SAP and Office 365. The Office 365 environment is the new digital workplace for employees. As soon as a process within SAP asks for this, Ometa automatically creates files (or sites) in the Office 365 workstation. For example, if a project, a supplier or a contract is created in SAP, a file is automatically created in the digital workplace, the people involved are invited to collaborate on the subject of that file and the right access rights are granted to these persons. This all happens automatically and in real time.

This also means that not only structured SAP information about objects such as contracts, orders, projects and staff is made accessible, but also all unstructured documents around these objects, such as quotations, project documents, meeting reports and personnel documents. In this way, thanks to Ometa, WML has a fully integrated digital workstation that is dynamically fed by SAP.

How did the collaboration go so far?

Ometa has experienced specialists who have developed their own set of tools using an in-house developed methodology in which they ask the right questions to enable such an integration. The first step that we took together was an in-depth content analysis. The results gave us a clear picture of the different information flows within WML. From this, we could then create a blueprint, which gave us a clear picture of where we wanted to go. The blueprint served as the basis for the planning of a total solution and decision-making at each stage. By taking the company characteristics and objectives of WML into account, we were able to work out the appropriate solution.

 

 

Ometa has pleasant colleagues who think along with us and help in each step of the implementation. (Aart Nap, WML)

 

Result: the best of two worlds

WML opted for a phased rollout. The implementation was gradually implemented in various departments: legal affairs, financial files, purchasing files, HR matters, projects, etc. The starting point was always that the processes in SAP were not to be changed, but would be used instead as the basis for the new dynamic collaboration in Office 365.

The dynamic cooperation is a result of the fact that the right information is shown in the right place. Depending on the status in SAP, files are created, modified or archived and can thus be used to collaborate. This reduces the search time for information. Moreover, the quality increases considerably because all information is now better available within one digital workplace and therefore it can be seen by many employees. The collaboration within Office 365 is always fully integrated with the processes and structures in SAP.

Example: supplier portal in which WML has a full view on all suppliers, including orders, invoices, supplier details, and so on. Data is coming from SAP and is combined with all relevant documents.

 

We already have about 1 year of experience with the use of this solution. Because we have consciously chosen to roll out the integration between SAP and Office 365 in phases, we are also working on the rollout of new integrations. We are already convinced that it has been the right choice to integrate with Office 365 because on the one hand it offers us many advantages in terms of manageability and extensibility and on the other hand we now use an existing structure, which increases the speed of implementation (Aart Nap, WML)

 

As far as the implementation is concerned, WML notes that it achieves enormous time savings because the structures from the ERP do not need to be reprogrammed. The power of Ometa lies in the fact that you can integrate SAP and Office 365 with each other just by configuring. At the same time, control from SAP processes also prevents the proliferation of files, which greatly facilitates controllability.

In addition to a good layout and implementation, there are of course the users and their adaptation. Ultimately, this determines the success of the implementation. As with many companies, WML has been used to working in the folder structure on a file server for a very long time. Because the average WML employee has been working at WML for a long time (about 20 years on average), many years of working in this way has made people used to this structure. For them, a switch to a new Document Management System, in which digital collaboration takes place in an online environment, is of course a learning process. To make everyone familiar with their new digital workplace, WML pays sufficient attention to training and supervision.

 

Ultimately, thanks to the integration between SAP and Office 365, we get the best out of both worlds. We respect the process-based and structured approach from SAP and combine this with the ease of use and the case-based approach of Office 365. This makes the information accessible to everyone and, in addition to the process information, we also structure the document flow of WML. (Yves Van Neck, Ometa)