Today we talk a little about ourselves, in particular about our work through successful stories, and about our experience beside the main partners, with the precise mission of satisfying their needs for continuous improvement, especially in production efficiency area.
It seems interesting to share these examples, both because we like to talk about the aspects that gave us professional satisfactions, but especially to witness the varied aspect of the manufacturing scene, how each sector needs different tools .. or a tool that can adapt to different companies.
IMPROVE 4.0 is the NeXT solution in the industrial sector (although some very advanced sectors use the “AI IMPROVE 4.0” variant, but we will talk about it soon).
Let’s see first what IMPROVE 4.0 is NOT:
IMPROVE 4.0 is NOT a software that installs and starts.
IMPROVE 4.0 is NOT a software that does a bit of everything (even what it is not needed)
Then, what is IMPROVE 4.0?
IMPROVE 4.0 IS an open and modular software system that enables packages of discrete solutions, each having the task of pursuing a specific objective
We begin our story with the Automotive sector.
Main customer: FCA Group
The desired improvement
The solutions implemented for the VM Motori plant in Cento are of a different type and have been developed over a three-year period, thanks to our collaboration with FCA.
The underlying demand of all the interventions required of us is surely that of a greater rationalization of the processes, tracing the products, monitoring the production results, and supporting the operator in the assembly of the engines.
IMPROVE 4.0 manages the process and product traceability along the crankshaft line. The goal of the project is to identify and trace the “Cam Carrier” product units in some processing phases. The IT solution also has the task of checking the consistency of the flow, or assessing that each product unit has been successfully processed by the respective sequence phases and that the quality controls have been completed successfully.
The identification of the production unit takes place by applying special adhesive labels with DATA-MATRIX code or with laser printing of the DATA-MATRIX directly on the Cam Carrier.
As regards the monitoring of production performance, the OEE efficiency module has been implemented in order to monitor the downtime number, the speed of the production flow and the quantity of waste. The efficiency module provides both real time data and data analysis in the short and medium term.
Finally, a Pick to light system was implemented in order to support the operator during the assembly of the engines in the finishing department, and at the same time, the software solution managed the movement of the AGV.
For example: in this context, IMPROVE system has the task of managing the AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) so that they move materials, from load buffers to lines. Here the AGV stops to allow the operator to read the engine serial number by means of a barcode reader. Thereafter it will start to advance slowly, in perfect synchrony with the pick to light system, always managed by our IMPROVE system.
What happens in practice? IMPROVE knows the list of components to be installed on the engine during the finish phase, by checking the itemized list. In relation to this list, the AGV is sent to a certain line. The speed of the AGV is managed by IMPROVE according to the shelves indicated by the pick to light system. Finally, IMPROVE will also adjust the height where the engine must be held in relation to the height of the human operator. The operator will then proceed to assemble the engine, perfectly supported by both the AGV and the pick-to-light system which will dictate the AGV movement time.
Main customers: Franke Group, Faber, Ariston Thermo, Elica
The desired improvement
The need of all our customers in this sector is to be able to eliminate production waste, in order to be more efficient and therefore more competitive on the market. The production waste passes through inefficient machines that therefore stop more than necessary, slow down the production processes, and causes excessive number of waste.
Thanks to the collaboration with all our customers, NeXT has implemented in this sector the IMPROVE 4.0 module designed to monitor production efficiency. In this context, the two modules, OEE and Andon board, provide a large amount of data both in real time and in the short and medium interval, which provide a valid decisional support to management.
Our partners World Class Manufacturing (and not only), was also provided with some support modules, such as the EWO and S-EWO modules and the Visual SOP.
Operators can report any event that requires maintenance intervention on the machines by means of the EWO module. The module allows immediate evidence of warnings and malfunctions and facilitates the work of the maintenance technician in searching for the root causes of the problem.
S-EWO module allows any operator who has been equipped with an appropriate device (for example a tablet) to record, describe and document any situation considered a source of hazard for the safety of work.
Visual SOP is a tool provided by WCM that allows the user to be guided step by step in the execution of a series of phases. This allows you to decrease the training time of new staff and reduce errors.
Another feature of IMPROVE 4.0 that has been provided to our partners regards the product and process traceability.
This module allows you to follow the product throughout the entire process, from design to palletization, but also to make sure that it has performed all the tests, by knowing the outcome.
The management of in line labels printing, both characteristic and packaging labels, are an integral part of the traceability module.
When the object enters the line, the label containing the characteristics of the product is automatically printed. At the end of the line, the packaging label is automatically generated and placed on the product by the operator. At this moment, the product is ready to be palletized and stored on the ERP.
In some cases IMPROVE 4.0 has been used to manage special labels, such as Ikea label and energy label printing.
Finally, as we are dealing with sheet metal products, therefore capable of vibrating, in some cases we have implemented the Vibco module, in other words quality control through vibrational analysis.
Main customer: Essity (già SCA Hygiene Product)
The desired improvement
The need of Essity (formerly SCA Hygiene Products), manufacturer of the famous Tempo tissue, was to set up structured monitoring of the entire procedure, from the paper production process to product traceability, including converting and storage, all the way to shipping, with the aim of creating a flow of data that would allow us to reconstruct the history of the production process for each pallet, reel or individual product, also in relation to the raw materials used, such as cellulose and chemical products.
Also in this case, the NeXT solutions for Essity have evolved over the years, thanks to the modularity of IMPROVE 4.0.
The Statistical Process Control (SPC) module has managed thousands of variables involved in a process such as paper production (but which is also common to other sectors, such as food or pharmaceutical). This module provides a deep knowledge of the processes with the aim of predicting their evolution so that they can intervene in real time.
The process manager can define the variables of the control charts, i.e. define the out of control concept. From this initial setting it will be possible to check the different suitability of the product with compared to the established parameters: it will therefore be possible to verify the presence of values that can affect the quality of the product or other aspects of the production process.
Another solution provided to Essity was the Warehouse Management System module to manage raw materials, from the unloading of the truck to the creation of the batch.
The collaboration with Essity has been enriched over the years with new partnerships that have also led to particular solutions customized according to customer’s needs, such as the development of a module for staff management, including training management and renewal notices; skills management, Health appointments and profiles; assignment and management of tasks and responsibilities; Skill Matrix.
Main customer: BMS Organic
The desired improvement
The first requirement of BMS Organic is to know the main cause of waste: from the packaging machine? From the scale (incorrect package weight)? From the metal detector?
Another need was to rationalize the production processes by going to take the data regarding the production directly from the machines, eliminating or minimizing the use of the paper. At the same time it was intended to trace the raw material and manage the raw materials stock, finished products and shipments.
The IMPROVE traceability module allowed following the raw material process.
We have implemented the Warehouse Management System module for the management of raw materials and finished products in the warehouse.
Main customer: E-Distribuzione
The desired improvement
E-Distribuzione wanted to implement a software system for the design of medium and low voltage power lines, in view of important projects for the modernization of many power line backbones throughout the entire national territory.
Next has developed a new product for this exclusive customer outside the manufacturing sector. So we no longer talk about IMPROVE 4.0, but ProLED.
ProLED is one of the few software in the world that supports the designer from the evaluation to the design of the elevation profile, generating as output, staking and stringing tables (and other outputs useful to the designer).
Ease of use, data precision and punctual assistance is the main features of this continuously evolving software, already among the best software in the world in the field of power line design.
NeXT is always on the move focusing on the directions that we feel most stimulating and ambitious. We mentioned AI IMPROVE 4.0. Obviously we are talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to our activities, therefore to the manufacturing sector, from maintenance to quality control: machines that suggest solutions, machines that solve problems, the human who manages and controls. This is the scenario in which we are moving, with real projects.
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