Winter + Freis is a family-run company based in Kipfenberg, Germany, which has been manufacturing transport equipment and containers made of wood and wood-based materials for the German automotive industry as well as for companies in medical technology, aerospace, mechanical engineering and for the German armed forces for 19 years.
After Microsoft Dynamics NAV had been introduced as ERP in the company and had been used for some time, it was realized that a graphical planning board was needed in addition to improve production planning.
After a thorough examination, the choice fell on the Visual Production Scheduler (VPS) from NETRONIC.
This led to
a significant reduction of administrative (planning) effort by several hours per day
a more stable schedule, less ad-hoc schedule changes and thus a significantly improved employee satisfaction thanks to a better, now also longer-term, plannability of the production
more reliable adherence to delivery dates
The very broad product portfolio and a high volume of orders pose complex challenges for production planning at Winter & Freis. Very special and complex packaging is produced in many different work steps. In addition, most of the orders the company receives have to be completed at very short notice - there is often less than 24 hours between order and delivery. At times, the employees each have to process 20 to 40 orders per day, which requires a high degree of precise planning - what with over forty employees.
Before Winter + Freis implemented the VPS, planning was still "very analog", according to Julian Ostermeier, one of the company's two managing directors. The precise planning required was "an impossibility. For that, I would have had to hire two people just to take care of it all day."
Another disadvantage of "analog" planning was that only a few responsible people in the company knew all the interrelationships in production, which also led to an increased susceptibility to errors, among other things.
Julian Ostermeier recalls:
"Many things were then misjudged, waiting times occurred, deadlines were missed now and then, or the truck had to wait because the goods had not yet been produced."
Even the introduction of Dynamics NAV (initially without a planning board) did not yet solve the problems satisfactorily, as it resulted in changes or disruptions to the "analog" processes that had been functioning up to that point. The company was therefore looking for a way to expand the functional scope of Dynamics NAV while remaining "in the system".
Winter + Freis wanted a production planning tool that
In the search for a tool that had the aforementioned characteristics, they came across NETRONIC's Visual Production Scheduler in the Navision environment, which was "relatively close to what we really needed, which is relatively rare in today's ERP programs and interface programs," says Julian Ostermeier. In addition, the functional scope of the VPS was convincing, so that Winter + Freis only needed a few individual adjustments, which were implemented quickly and easily by NETRONIC, according to Ostermeier.
Planning with the VPS at Winter + Freis now looks like this: every one or two days, depending on the requirements, each employee receives a new work plan in which the work orders to be completed are listed in the respective order. This means that each employee knows exactly what he or she will be working on over the next one or two days, and it no longer happens that the production planner assigns him or her a different job several times a day that needs to be done even more urgently.
The biggest benefit the VPS brings to the company is the significant time savings that result from the significant reduction in administrative time spent on planning. Where previously 5 to 6 hours a day had to be spent on planning alone and there were still delivery delays and waiting times for the forwarding agents, there are now clearly structured work plans for the employees virtually at the push of a button every 1-2 days.
More effective planning
The entire process becomes more transparent and easier to plan, "especially with regard to completion dates, shipping companies and the like. With large orders, you can also plan several weeks into the future and see what will be done when."
Ostermeier is pleased that he can better schedule his employees, even "when there's less work."
The significant increase in employee satisfaction is another major benefit of the VPS for the company. The clear schedule offers employees continuity and stability for their work, and they gain a certain degree of self-control.
Ostermeier is convinced that other companies in a similar environment can also benefit from using a graphical planning board:
"The fact that you can design the VPS very individually and adapt it to your own processes means that it offers significant added value to just about all companies."
Ostermeier on the use of the VPS and the cooperation with NETRONIC:
"Everything works quite well in practice, too, so we have a very good tool to work with."