Digitalization of Information-Intensive Logistics Processes to Reduce Production Lead Times at ENGEL Austria GmbH: Extending Value Stream Mapping with Subject-Oriented Business Process Management
Situation faced: ENGEL is a strongly customer-oriented company with a focus on flexibility and innovations. These priorities are projected into a constant effort to offer customer-oriented solutions with short delivery times and the highest possible quality. Driven by this strategy, one of the company’s goals was to further decrease the lead time of one of the main components for the injection molding machines by at least 30%. We were facing a cross-company process spanning over several different departments (logistics, production, IT, etc.), dozens of involved process actors, and no available process documentation.
Action taken: The first step was to use Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to document the production process and to identify weak points and potential improvements. However, the defined lead time reduction could only be achieved by considering the production process in conjunction with accompanying administrative processes. Both areas are information-intensive as they are largely based on the processing and transfer of data. This required a combination of VSM with subject-oriented Business Process Management (S-BPM) as basis for specifying new and improved processes which were then implemented in an SAP ERP System environment.
Results achieved: The main achievement was the optimization of cross-company processes and the digitalization and automation of formerly manual processes. This resulted in greatly reduced process costs, reduced work in process, a reduced production lead time for individual components, and a reduced overall lead time by approx. 45%.
Lessons learned: By using the VSM method we produced a detailed description of our production processes. The S-BPM method provides a modeling language that is easy to learn and can document complex processes at a high level of detail. It can provide a process description that complements the VSM with the required description of the information flows. The focus on the information flow of a process allows for process improvements and the digitalization of processes to be implemented in existing software environments with relatively little effort and still achieve significant results. A detailed and concrete process description can support the IT department to directly digitalize and automate process steps, reducing the time needed for additional verification steps and test runs.
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