UFLEX Industries Achieves M2M Integration Between Its Global Plants and ERP

by April 15, 2015 0 comments
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Data from machinery was manually updated into ERP systems, leading to inefficiencies and delays. The company used M2M integration to automate the process and achieved 15% improvement in dispatch time.

Manufacturing companies are gradually beginning to realize that they need to achieve even greater efficiencies than what ERP software can provide, which is where M2M integration with software comes in. That’s exactly what UFLEX Industries did when it discovered that there was no other way to reduce errors and in-efficiencies caused by manual entries by humans.

The company is a globally renowned player in the flexible packaging industry, manufacturing polyester chips, Films, coated films, laminates, etc. Its Film Division has 6 global process/manufacturing locations in USA, Poland, Egypt, UAE, Mexico and India. The process plants generate data on the process parameters and batch input/output, like Film Roll length, height, and width, among other things. Only after this data is fed into the ERP on a continuous basis can the rolls be used for further slitting and process operations. The processing plants are manned by different country nationals and employee attrition is a common problem there. Moreover, their focus and priority is on generating more process output rather than updating data in the ERP system. This results in a huge data updation backlog, causing in-efficiencies in the entire operating chain. It had a cascading effect on other operations, causing delays in logistics, further material processing and finally customer delivery times, due to missed shipments and others.
As a part of the IT initiative, the company decided to implement more M2M integration (Machine to Machine) in the plants generating data in XML, which was integrated to the ERP Server on an automated basis and also generated alerts accordingly, based on the status of the server.
So if the server was overloaded, the plant would locally cache the files and as soon as the plant generated the production batch data, it was updated in the ERP. All this was on a real time basis (<2 seconds) and with zero manual involvement.
A robust error tracking algorithm was put in place to ensure that if errors, like generated file corruption, file duplication, file format or data missing, network MPLS interruption (data center is globally centralized while plants are in far-away geographies), there were retries and alert emails.
The benefits gained as a result of this M2M integration were phenomenal. The operating chain efficiency in terms of the time to dispatch improved by at least 15%, and the manpower was freed in three shifts from data updation to more productive tasks. Besides all these benefits, the icing on the cake was that the ERP was fed with accurate data with no human errors (because everything was completely automated).

Transformation Summary
Before Deployment: Process parameters from 6 global plants were fed manually into the ERP system, leading to human error, backlogs, and delays in logistics.
What was Deployed: M2M integration between plans and ERP server to update the data automatically.
After Deployment: Operating chain efficiency in terms of the time to dispatch improved by at least 15%; Manpower freed in three shifts from data updation to more productive tasks; ERP fed with accurate data with no human errors.

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