A Borg company

Total Plant Management Conference

Crossmuller recently had the opportunity to attend the Total Plant Management Conference in Melbourne.
Total Plant Management Conference

The conference provided a good number of presenters and covered many aspects that form part of the Total Plant Performance Management methodology. Some of the key topics covered during the event were:

  • Women in Manufacturing – Recruiting, retaining and advancing top talent.
  • Employee engagement, development and growth
  • Industry 4.0 and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Maintaining Quality and Productivity in 24/7 Industrial Facilities
  • Defining a Framework of Continuous Improvement (CI) and Training Development
  • Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) – Implementation and operational performance

For those uninitiated, Total Plant Performance Management (TPPM) is a continuous improvement program that focuses on integration of all plant functions in order to obtain a specific goal. It is a practical approach where, once a goal is defined, the business will ensure that all resources, assets and processes are trained/configured and updated and continuously monitored in order to achieve the goal.  Once the goal is achieved a new goal will be identified that will improve and build on work done to achieve the previous goals.

One of the components that tie-in nicely with TPPM is Digital transformation. As one of the speakers, our GM, Ashley Dawson, presented the Borgs Digital Transformation Journey. It is a very interesting story, and one worthwhile sharing, as it shows that progress tends to be incremental and not necessarily a big bang approach.

A Manufacturer’s Digital Transformation Journey

Australian Panels Overview

Australian Panels is a leading Australian manufacturer of melamine panels and components.

Their manufactured products include a range of raw and white melamine panels, decorative melamine board products, shelving, components and doors in a variety of styles and finishes.

In addition to the Oberon and Mt Gambier sites, Borg operates a highly automated doors plant in Charmhaven and a laminated products manufacturing facility at Somersby on the NSW central coast which will be the focus of this article.

The manufacturing sites are supported by a 25,000m2 warehouse and distribution facility at Somersby as well as a series of 20+ warehouses around Australia. These warehouses are supported by a company owned distribution fleet, providing next day delivery of orders, to thousands of customers around the country.

Australian Panels has continually invested in state-of-the-art technology – both equipment as well as manufacturing systems.

In 2016, Crossmuller became part of the Australian Panels business on the back of a 20-year collaborative digital transformation journey.

The Charmhaven Doors Plant

As the business moved over to a batching process, where all orders were combined to optimize execution and later sorted to fulfill the specific customer orders, the way in which the process tracks, and reported on production, had to change.  This approach changed the industry standard where production was measured by man-hour/door to doors/person.

This can probably be identified as the point where Borg started their Digitized Manufacturing journey.

This approach brought along several changes that had to be made in the production processes in order to be able to effectively track production items from the time the order has been placed up to the point where the specific customer order is loaded onto the truck for delivery.

The production process for the plant can be depicted as follows:

Batching of all the production orders enabled the plant to optimize the use of the feed material and reduce waste and unnecessary off-cuts.

Introducing a work in progress (WIP) storage location enabled operations to be able to separately optimize the press and reduce possible bottlenecks in the process.  This required all items to be individually tracked through the process, which is achieved by barcoding all the items after they are cut.

The incorporation of automated production processes and robotic handling solutions also required closer integration between up and downstream components to allow operations to streamline the process.

In the current state:

  • All orders are electronically entered
  • Work orders are automatically optimized based on the orders received
  • Production is completely automated
  • All parts are barcoded and tracked through the process
  • Integration back to ERP for planning purposes
  • Automated sorting of parts for packing and shipping

With this full end to end digitization, Borg has achieved the goal of having a true B2B business model where orders can be packed in an optimised sequence for processing by the customer to eliminate double handling / manual sorting. The technology developed in-house are now also shared with their customers and the rest of the industry.

The Enabler

In order to be able to integrate and track production, Borg standardised on the Wonderware MES Platform. The rationale behind having a common MES platform across sites is the same as for an overall ERP – to provide a single point of integration and a common architecture. The goal of the platform is to provide a consistent touch point from ERP to/from the plant floor at each site. MES acts as the “single source of truth” for interfacing systems. The Wonderware MES solution stack is currently deployed at 10 sites across Australia.

The MES Architecture can be depicted as follows:

The Future

Borg is still continuing on their journey. With the completion of the Charmhaven site, it also started on the digitization of their Warehousing and Logistic functions by integrating the Warehouse Management functionality into the common MES platform and adding a full set of warehouse constraint and optimisation capabilities. It is also at the early stages of developing an Operations Control Center that will be utilising this common infrastructure across sites to provide real-time decision support and analytics.

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