With cronetwork, Good Things Come in Any Size Package

December 16, 2010 by Tino M. Böhler

Multivac manages its production with cronetwork and SAP (image: Multivac)

Multivac manages its production with cronetwork and SAP (image: Multivac)

Multivac Sepp Haggenmüller is a leading provider of automated packaging machines for everything from blue cheese, liverwurst, and fresh strawberries to printer cartridges. In fact, it would be difficult to find anyone in Germany who has never held a product from a Multivac customer in his or her hands.

Since 2008, the company has used cronetwork – manufacturing execution system (MES) software from Kenzingen, Germany’s Industrie Informatik that supports integration with SAP systems – to ensure timely processing and a high level of quality in its production.

Having been founded in a garage by entrepreneur Sepp Haggenmüller in 1961, Multivac now maintains production facilities in Wolfertschwenden, Germany, and Lechaschau, Austria. The company’s 3,000 employees worldwide support a varied customer base that ranges from other industrial manufacturers and global corporations to midsize companies and artisan businesses. In 2008, Multivac generated €475 million in revenues.

Multivac is a globally active organization that has delivered some 26,000 packaging systems and 95,000 chamber machines in over 100 countries. The company also provides comprehensive customer support – from initial consulting to developing and designing a packaging process that meets each client’s technical and financial criteria to the letter.

Next page: Business processes and SAP integration

The functional scope of cronetwork (screenshot: Industrie Informatik)

The functional scope of cronetwork (screenshot: Industrie Informatik)

Bringing clarity to business processes

“With cronetwork, our business processes have become more transparent and we can now conduct accurate final costing,” reports IT director Wilfried Grewe, summarizing the software’s advantages with regard to manufacturing packaging machines. For instance, Multivac is now able to deliver and install more than 3,200 chamber machines and 1,100 industrial thermoformers and tray sealers for customers all over the world every year.

At the company’s Wolfertschwenden facility, meanwhile, Multivac has used cronetwork to overhaul its plant and equipment data collection systems without needing to account for any legacy installations.

“Our similar collection systems in Lechaschau were also behind the times; we couldn’t carry out any plausibility checks at terminals, for example, and employees operating equipment couldn’t access any information,” recalls Gerhard Hein, IT employee and head of the cronetwork project at Multivac. “Plus, the interfaces to and from the SAP control system involved delays and a constantly high level of manual effort.”

Simple SAP integration

Multivac’s controlling and manufacturing departments were the main areas clamoring for comprehensive, yet easy-to-use final costing. “Thanks to cronetwork, we’re now able to conduct more accurate capacity planning, set better cycle times, and implement optimal process tracking,” Hein says.

The company’s packing specialists chose cronetwork due to its user-friendly Web interface, simple support of parameterization, and solid track record. Its use of standard components such as Oracle databases, MS Server and Java was also a key factor, while cronetwork’s further arguments included potential integration of a control station for production planning, network support, and a certified interface to SAP.

The full implementation of cronetwork – including components for business data, equipment data, key performance indicators, working time, evaluation, system administration, production information, and project scheduling – was carried out in a six-month pilot project at both of Multivac’s production locations, followed by a brief period of introduction and transition.

“With the few adjustments we asked Industrie Informatik to implement with regard to SAP, labeling, and weight measurement in cronetwork’s standard configuration, the software now covers over 90% of our requirements,” Hein reports.

Next page: An entire manufacturing process at a glance

An entire manufacturing process at a glance

Based on the SAP interface in cronetwork, Multivac and Industrie Informatik have integrated processes to achieve secure parallel reporting in cronetwork and its SAP software. Today, Multivac’s employees use 180 terminals to confirm most operations for business data collection in cronetwork – and some in SAP, as well.

These operations, however, are still passed on to cronetwork to enable users to view complete orders. Meanwhile, one of the aforementioned adjustments built into cronetwork presents the operations from being reported in the software.

In addition, the SAP system always includes status updates when communicating reported operations to cronetwork, enabling the software to display the current progress of any order whenever needed. As a result, the entire manufacturing process is visible in cronetwork – even for work sequences that only involve SAP.

Among other things, this has simplified searching for materials, which used to be a tedious process in production halls spanning more than 50,000 square meters. “This subject used to be a black box of sorts for us: Every now and again, valuable parts weren’t where they were supposed to be and couldn’t be found,” Hein explains. “Today, the confirmations in cronetwork make it easy to find them quickly because we can see who was the last to have each material.”

Another tremendous advantage of cronetwork – particularly considering that Multivac assembles its largest machines from up to 10,000 components.

Next page: Simple capacity planning, swift troubleshooting

Simple capacity planning

These days, Multivac uses cronetwork’s business data collection functions in virtually every area of manufacturing.

The software’s project scheduling module, for instance, handles reporting in programming, and its production information tool – Oracle Discoverer – provides internal evaluations. “We’ve seen the greatest benefits in how cronetwork uses actual confirmation data as a basis for controlling, provides overviews of work progress, reduces confirmation errors through constant monitoring, and increases the transparency of our confirmation data,” lists Wilfried Grewe.

In capacity planning, meanwhile, the ability to manage storing positions in assembly halls is a key instrument. “We can only produce a certain number of machines every week,” explains Hein. “If a lot of orders for large machines come in all of a sudden, things get tight. Thanks to cronetwork, however, we can quickly adjust our planning and continue to ensure proper assembly.”

Swift troubleshooting

For Gerhard Hein, another of cronetwork’s primary strengths lies in its ability to automatically integrate more than 200 different production machines. “The software makes it possible to correctly allocate the runtimes that arise – which cost a lot of money – to individual orders. We now know exactly how much money a project will bring in; it’s another area where the ‘black box’ days are behind us,” Hein says.

In addition, the availability of this knowledge directly affects process management and optimization at the company: Multivac is now planning to these new insights to improve its cycle times, thereby obtaining reliable specifications for its scheduling and capacity planning.

Hein is also satisfied with the cost reductions his company has achieved. “We can now identify idle machines at a glance and immediately trigger the repair process. If the malfunction is due to the program in question, it’s forwarded straight to the corresponding programmer. Our costs have fallen because we’ve gotten faster; we’ve made tremendous progress in reducing waits and downtime.”

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