JORI increases manufacturing efficiency while addressing COVID-19 concerns

By and | 3 minute read | July 30, 2020

Several years ago, JORI, a luxury furniture manufacturer based in Belgium, implemented a 3D configurator to give customers the ability to preview furniture online before purchasing it. When the company had to shutter its stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JORI used the pause in operations as an opportunity to move forward with a new production planning system.

Adjusting production planning to improve safety

In the past, JORI used a simple calculation algorithm for production planning that was part of its ERP system. But this solution was not able to handle all of the additional steps needed to address COVID-19 and to allow workers to safely return to the factory. Working with IBM Business Partner, CD Invest, JORI took advantage of a mandatory shutdown to implement the new solution. “We were already starting to think about the new planning solution in February,” says Koen Decorte, Owner of CD Invest. “But then in March, when we had the lockdown, we pushed the project forward. And it was done by the end of April.”

The manufacturing process includes a lot of manual labor, so JORI needed to be able to create detailed production plans that would accommodate social distancing among workers as well as 72-hour delays in handing furniture pieces off from one team to another to minimize the risks of workers infecting each other.

“One of the main goals was to make sure that everybody can come in to work and feel that they’re operating in a safe environment,” says Decorte.

A custom-built system

The production planning system, which was custom built by JORI and CD Invest, runs on the same IBM Power Systems and IBM i platform that support the 3D configurator. So when Decorte needed assistance optimizing database and application performance, he engaged IBM Services to help. “IBM Services helped us sort out our SQL queries to make them perform better,” says Decorte.

JORI now has three powerful tools at its disposal to help it quickly deliver the furniture that its customers want, even under the less-than-ideal selling conditions created by COVID-19.

First is the 3D configurator. The 3D configurator is fully integrated with JORI’s core manufacturing and sales systems, and makes it easy for customers to choose furniture options and preview their choices. Because of the configurator, customers were able to continue shopping with JORI without visiting the store during COVID-19.

After creating the 3D configurator, JORI then implemented IBM Watson Assistant. With Watson Assistant, JORI can recommend furniture choices to its customers that are most likely to interest them, based on their region or other demographics. For example, certain regions in Belgium have smaller homes than others, so Watson Assistant might offer customers from those regions smaller furniture pieces that will fit better in their homes.

The third tool is the production planning solution. With the new production planning solution, JORI reduced furniture delivery times from 10 – 12 weeks to 4 – 5 weeks — and even 15 days or less in some cases. JORI achieved this speed even with building all of the additional precautions for COVID-19 into the manufacturing process. The company’s business transformation is impressive, to say the least.

Getting government approval on safety

Finishing the project quickly was extremely important so that JORI could reopen its factory. “It was really a big effort to push the project through in that short amount of time because JORI wanted to reopen but the laws were very strict,” says Decorte. “And to reopen, you had to be compliant with all new COVID-19 rules.”

The owner of JORI was so confident that the new production planning system properly addressed COVD-19 concerns that he invited the government in to review the new manufacturing process and collaborate on best practices for operating businesses amid the challenges of a pandemic.