Automating packaging planning with IIoT
Packaging lines in steel service centers are the link between production and the delivery of goods to the customer. Efficient and trouble-free processes are indispensable at this point. However, analog work often leads to avoidable errors here, which can result in undesirable costs. With the help of an IIoT platform, paper-based processes in the packaging of rings can be digitized and automated. In this way, manual errors and the resulting consequences can be effectively prevented.
Manual work on packaging lines
Work on packaging lines in steel service centers today often still takes place analogously. The finished rings arrive at the end of production from the slitting lines via turnstiles at the packaging line. These also serve as temporary storage areas, so that a bottleneck can potentially occur at this point in the production process. In order to be able to guarantee trouble-free production, efficient workflows are absolutely essential here. For planning purposes, the employee responsible anticipates in advance the time at which the rings will arrive at the packaging line and be available for him to retrieve from their respective storage locations. The pre-planning of the packaging of individual rings is usually done in writing on slips of paper, which are then in turn put together in stacks. In addition to basic information, such as which customer receives how many rings per stack, the customer's individual packaging guidelines are also relevant. These include, among other things, the number of intermediate timbers required when packaging multiple rings and how these are to be arranged.
High quality demands under time pressure
When carrying out their tasks, employees on packaging lines in steel service centers are often confronted with conflicting demands on their work. On the one hand, they have to carry out many of their work processes under great time pressure, but on the other hand, the quality of the packaging must not decrease in the process. However, written planning on packaging lines is prone to errors, especially under time pressure. Shift work in the late and night shifts can have an additional negative influence in this case. Errors in the packaging of produced rings with regard to the maximum weight, the height of the stacks on the pallets and whether they should be stacked horizontally or vertically can have immediate consequences. A drop in customer satisfaction, for example, can cause undesirable complaint costs in the short term and, in addition, can even lead to the loss of customers altogether in the long term.
Efficient work on packaging lines with IIoT platform
With an IIoT platform such as the modular toii® platform from thyssenkrupp Materials IoT, the framework conditions for efficient work on packaging lines can be optimized straightforwardly in the background. With the toii®.Collect module, the machine data of all plants and machines can be collected and evaluated in real time. The integration of production planning from the ERP system with the toii®.Integrator module also makes it possible to combine the collected machine data with the current order data. Here, not only currently processed but also future planned orders can be displayed for the purpose of appropriate pre-planning. The underlying planning for the packaging of the rings can be carried out completely automatically by toii® instead of the respective employee. However, subsequent manual adjustments are still flexibly possible. In this way, toii® provides more transparency on the shop floor and enables employees to track the rings at any time throughout the entire production process. Operational constraints of customers for the final packaging of the produced rings can be displayed graphically on the intuitive user interface and long search times for packaging guidelines can thus be reduced. By digitizing their workplace, employees are relieved of the burden of performing their jobs. At the same time, the use of modern digitization solutions in the workplace can contribute to increased satisfaction among employees. In addition to the use in semi-automated packaging lines, toii® can also be used in fully automated packaging lines.