With its manufacturing processes still largely organized on paper, Winsol needed to speed up internal communications and increase the visibility of orders to enable faster, better customer service.
Winsol launched innovative manufacturing-control and image-recognition solutions for its shop floor, managed by open source software running alongside core systems on an IBM Power Systems S814 server.
Digitizedmanufacturing processes increase efficiency and order visibility
10%estimated increase in productivity
Scalablesolution enables future business expansion
Business challenge story
In the intensive, resource-heavy world of manufacturing, speed and efficiency are crucial to success. Belgian window manufacturer Winsol has long prided itself on its extensive expertise and innovation in this sector, but realized it was facing a challenge with the visibility of customer orders in the manufacturing and logistics chain.
Lieven Decloedt, Plant Manager at Winsol, explains: “We had difficulty in keeping track of customers’ orders because so much of our manufacturing process was still organized on paper. That meant preparation took longer because we had to physically move paperwork around the plant, and it meant we couldn’t easily keep track of where a given order was in the manufacturing process.”
Because Winsol lacked real-time clarity on the status of customers’ orders – the only option being to check paperwork – if a customer requested a status update, the company had to send a worker to physically check an order’s position on the shop floor.
Lieven Decloedt continues: “We estimate that the amount of time we spent physically checking the status of orders was equivalent to employing two full-time workers. Given the plant has a workforce of about 70 people, we knew we needed to change the way we operated. We needed to go paperless to improve the speed of preparation work, and we needed a way to easily detect the status of each order. In short, we needed to digitize our manufacturing process. That decision was what led us to upgrade our IBM infrastructure.”
Reinventing the shop floor
Working with its business partner CD-Invest, Winsol decided to upgrade its existing IBM systems, deploying a brand-new IBM Power Systems S814 server as part of an innovative digital-manufacturing solution for its shop floor.
Sam Roels, Business Process Manager at Winsol, explains: “We have run our core manufacturing-control systems on IBM i for many years. After consulting with CD-Invest we determined that we needed the newest model available for our ambitious new shop-floor solution. The IBM S814 has provided a solid foundation for us to reinvent our manufacturing processes, on both the hardware and the software side.”
In collaboration with CD-Invest, Winsol replaced manufacturing-control terminals across its shop floor, connecting to new open source software running on its IBM Power Systems S814 server.
Koen Decorte, Business Partner at CD-Invest and IBM Champion for Power Systems, explains: “We built 70 touchscreen workstations for the Winsol shop floor, with wireless scanners which enable workers to seamlessly log and process each order at every stage of the process. These scanners also enable more extensive quality control, as the photos they take of products during manufacturing can be used to double-check whether the parcels are complete.
“We also helped Winsol design an intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI) for these work stations, which helped reduce the need for new skills training once the system was in place.”
Winsol also took advantage of the increased capacity and performance of the IBM Power Systems S814 server to overhaul its core business planning and financial applications. “Our invoicing and manufacturing preparation processes now run much more efficiently,” says Sam Roels.
“Everything is processed more quickly than before. That’s down to the stability and efficiency of the IBM i platform, but we wouldn’t have been able to make these improvements without the expert support of CD-Invest. They were very diligent in helping us rewrite our business applications, and their recommendation of IBM Power Systems was what really drove our renewed investment.”
Since installing its new shop floor solution powered by IBM i, Winsol has seen a marked increase in production efficiency, thanks to the increased visibility of customer orders.
“It’s become much easier to track the status of customer orders,” says Lieven Decloedt. “Whereas before we had to rely on physical checking and paperwork, with the new IT system we can track each order in real time, and easily report this information to our customers. We no longer have to ask anyone to physically check where an order is on the shop floor, which represents a huge time saving, and our production managers can more easily follow up on any problems they detect with an order.”
Winsol has experienced an estimated 10 percent increase in productivity, thanks to the transformation delivered by CD-Invest and IBM Power Systems. “The planning process is much more efficient now,” says Sam Roels. “We can prepare orders much faster, and the invoicing process has also been sped up by the new business applications we have created with CD-Invest. Everything – both core business systems and the new open source solutions – runs on IBM i, so reliability is perfect as always. And the faster processes have certainly made our lives easier.”
With the new IBM Power Systems S814 server cemented as a core business component, Winsol has plans to expand the digitization of its manufacturing environment still further.
“There’s still room to expand with IBM i on Power,” Sam Roels concludes. “In the future we want to go completely paperless – we are still processing some transactions on paper, as a holdover from our previous system. Within a year, we want every single step of our manufacturing process digitized. That means more efficient production at a lower cost, in both time and money, all facilitated by the stability and scalability of IBM i. With IBM and CD-Invest, we think we can continue improving our operations for many more years to come.”
Winsol is a window manufacturer active in Belgium and France, specializing in sun protection, rolling shutters, PVC and ALU windows, garage doors and balustrades. Based in Izegem, Belgium, and with over 140 years’ experience, Winsol challenges itself time and again in the search for innovative solutions, putting customer comfort first with the knowledge of how to tackle every challenge successfully.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM i, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power/os/ibm-i
To learn more about IBM Power Systems, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/power