Continuous Production Planning in the Factory Model with visTABLE®

In Schiltach, level sensors for the process industry are produced, used in storage tanks or silos, among other things. The production for these devices takes place on an increasingly smaller free space at the site. With the constant increase in production capacity, VEGA Grieshaber recently decided to add another 15000 m² to the existing building. The company has been planning with the visTABLE®touch software since 2012 to make optimum use of the new space and the best possible material flow. Two to three projects with durations of one month to half a year are constantly running in parallel in production planning. The gradually developed 3D factory model plays an important role in this process and is partly responsible for planning success.

new planned building of production expansion as 3d visualization at VEGA Grieshaber

VEGA employs over 1,500 people worldwide, 770 of them at its headquarters in Schiltach in the Black Forest. For over 50 years, solutions for demanding measurement tasks in chemical and pharmaceutical plants, in the food industry as well as in drinking water supply, in sewage treatment plants and landfills, in mining and power generation, on oil platforms, ships, and in airplanes have been created here. 3 production sites: Schiltach, USA, India and 18 subsidiaries, and 80 agencies worldwide. www.vega.com

“We previously only had 2D plans, often using pen and paper to plan new product lines. Material flows were created more by feel than on the basis of tangible key figures,”  explains Michael Bonath (Production Planning)

Previously, it was often necessary to improvise with available tools such as Microsoft Visio in order to solve planning tasks in the best possible way. The complexity of this software, with many functions not needed for production planning, was often time-consuming and not target-oriented.

First deeper insight

As-is analysis of the material flows in production planning

The uneasy feeling was finally confirmed by a first independent analysis of the processes and material flows with visTABLE®touch.

„On paper, the presentation of variant production on a line was simply too complex,” explains Mr. Bonath

For the first time, material flows could be visualized quickly and transparently and transport routes calculated automatically. This was then the trigger for the step-by-step introduction of a real planning solution. This solution supports the planning team, consisting of production management plus deputy, including the production planners on a permanent basis.

material flow visualization in the 2d layout at VEGA Grieshaber with visTABLE®touch
Material flow analysis and visualization in a 2D layout in visTABLE®touch

„The material flows went criss-cross, there and back. For the first time, we were able to visualize and evaluate the transport routes precisely and thus provide evidence of the actual situation in production.“ explains Bonath

VEGA also sees the high level of acceptance as a result of the better and more intuitive usability of the software compared to other solutions. Thus, there are also planning participants outside the core team who can use visTABLE®touch to incorporate changes if required.

„I immediately felt the software was easier to use and more accurate. In addition, there was a need for action with regard to the growing, no longer up-to-date data basis. These were some of the decisive reasons for a change.“ according to Mr. Bonath

Space problem for new products

Lack of space is also one of the most frequent challenges in the company and, connected with this, the question of how a new product can be integrated sensibly into the existing production areas with the optimal flow of materials. This involves reducing batch sizes and minimizing buffer areas. The ultimate goal is to find the optimal arrangement of the material in a production line.

Other typical questions at VEGA :

  • Separation of value creation & logistics
  • Long transport routes for the delivery of packaging material
  • High picking effort
  • Mapping of several product series via one production line
  • Multiple-use of individual resources  

Involve employees and suppliers in production planning

While 3D planning was hardly conceivable before, it can now of course also be used after the introduction of visTABLE®touch. Experience has shown that the 3D view is important to visualize concepts in a comprehensible way. In addition, image exports and recorded videos of flythroughs are used for presentation. This has also greatly improved communication with equipment suppliers.

3D factory model of a department at VEGA Grieshaber in visTABLE®touch
3D visualization of a department at VEGA Grieshaber in visTABLE®touch

For suppliers of workstations automation modules, the process representation in the logix module is important in order to better understand the integration of transport systems into internal processes. This means that delivery times for new equipment can be further reduced in the future.

process graph logix for a product at VEGA Grieshaber in visTABLE®touch
Process chain with visualization of the transport systems in visTABLE® logix

Step by step to the digital 3D factory model

From the beginnings in 2012, when simple 2D plans were still being used, there is now nothing to be seen at VEGA. The 3D factory model, which is now used throughout, was created by using the standard visTABLE®touch library with approx. 1,500 models, the CAD import in the Objectmanager plus supporting modeling services from plavis GmbH. Step by step, 2D drawings were converted into a 3D model. Consistent layout management by those responsible for the following areas also plays an important role:

  • Performance optimization by merging approved layouts or assemblies
  • Maintained and optimized model libraries
  • Transparent layout structuring
  • Organization of responsibilities for layout areas
model library example of a packsize packaging machine at VEGA Grieshaber in visTABLE®touch
3D model of a Packsize packaging machine in the ObjectManager in visTABLE®touch

The pragmatic approach is now paying off for the company by having an always maintained, accurate, and understandable factory model of the site at hand, which allows quick changes in production planning and helps speed up the SOP.

Standardization of planning processes in production planning

VEGA consistently proceeds in 5 steps to plan new production areas:

  1. first concepts as block layout for discussion and approval
  2. finalization preferred variant block layout
  3. detailed planning variants for coordination and release
  4. finalization preferred variant fine layout
  5. implementation based on layout

visTABLE®touch helps to live these business processes and to carry out several projects simultaneously.

Benefits of the solution

In summary, visTABLE®touch VEGA helps above all in the following areas:

  • Easy or simplified workplace arrangement of complex production lines by visTABLE® logix
  • 3D visualization of plans for employees and suppliers, live or as recorded video or screenshot
  • In the workplace planning for temporary workplaces and for the later, realized workplace

Words of thanks

We at plavis GmbH would like to thank VEGA Grieshaber KG for providing us with regular tips from practical use of visTABLE®touch and wish them continued success in implementing planning projects!

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