OPAL in use at Violeta
How a brief visit became a success story
In the spring of 2018, three men were sitting at a table having lunch and laughing while they resume how they became a team. The tree men are Ivan Brnadic, Ralf Krumbiegel and Frank Bühl. What unites the Optima software engineers and the process developer from Violeta? A long-term partnership, educational for both sides, and a large-scale project that none of them expected.
“The exciting part of the project is the huge success story resulting from an unexpected Violeta visit at Optima Nonwovens where we introduced the software to Ivan Brnadic”, explains Ralf Krumbiegel, Software Engineer at Optima Life Science the unexpected turn of events of the project. A brief introduction of OPAL ended in a two-hour discussion and was the initiation of a large-scale project that is still ongoing. Ralf Krumbiegel and Frank Bühl generated a digital simulation of the machine for Ivan Brnadic. An approach that was well tried for other projects, explains Ralf Krummbiegel. Ivan Brnadic is responsible for the process development at Violeta. The company has several production locations in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia for paper hygiene products.
“For me, OPAL is the epitome of Industry 4.0”On his way back to Bosnia Ivan Brnadic was certain: “This is exactly what we are looking for.” Excited by the idea to link the entire production process to OPAL, recognize weaknesses, and improve them with performance indicators like OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) he decided to stay in contact with the Optima software experts.
Violeta was looking for some time for performance indicators that would allow them to monitor the production efficiency. So far, Violeta was recording their production data by hand. Work orders that were created and printed with Microsoft Navision were complemented by the operators with line production data. The documents then were sent the administration department, which entered data such as the number of manufactured products, rejects and downtimes in Navision manually (see graph). A very time consuming process that needed to be improved. Now the data is automatically generated and performance indicators are generated in OPAL for example OEE, MTBF (meantime between failure), MTTR (meantime to repair), output and many more with the appropriate reports.
The ERP system that is utilized for OPAL is not important, explains Jürgen Soldner, Product Manager at Optima Life Science. The software solution can be linked to any company software. “OPAL is more than just a display of performance data, it is a complete line management system”, says Jürgen Soldner. Besides the vertical integration of software levels, it combines several production lines, to one line in the system. “Form me, this is the epitome of Industry 4.0”, says Frank Bühl.
After an additional observation of the functionality of the OPAL system at a U.S. customer’s site where OPAL is in operation since 2014, Ivan Brnadic was convinced. Based on this information Ivan Brnadic decided to test the software at Violeta. Performance indicators that were collected at the U.S. customer site were entered in the OPAL concept for Violeta.
Suitable for machines for all manufacturers – a deciding factor for VioletaToday’s result: three production are lines are optimized with OPAL, one in Zagreb that processes kitchen and toilet paper rolls and two lines in Grude. Both lines in Grude process kitchen and toilet paper rolls, as well as sanitary napkins. Besides the Optima packaging machines many production and packaging machines from different vendors are integrated in the packaging process - from the raw material to palletizing (see diagram). One of the strong points of OPAL: it records the production data, for example, error messages and outputs of all machines – no matter from which machine they come from. “For example the line in Zagreb consists of eleven machines from different vendors”, explains Ralf Krumbiegel.
“An additional advantage of OPAL is that existing, older machines that might be operated manually can also be integrated”, says Frank Bühl. Supported by Marijana Jukic the main user of OPAL and Ante Brkic the IT contact, Ivan Brnadic is doing pioneer work at Violeta and convinced the management of the efficiency of the system.
How was this achieved? A huge increase of the OEE values at the lines convinced the Violeta management, reports Ivan Brnadic. The display of the performance indicators, on a hall monitor, already increased the efficiency by seven percent. “The operators saw the numbers and were motivated”, says Ivan Brnadic.
The KPIs (Key Performance indicators) did not only improve motivation but operator guidance and transparency. “Weaknesses are recognized easily and errors can be retraced later”, explains Frank Bühl. “This in turn lowers the reaction time immensely.” Live information is a key factor for Ivan Brnadic.
OPAL also increases the safety since the operators receive current information via a web screen located close to the machine. Comments on shift starts and ends are displayed, as well as errors, warnings and alarms. Therefore, the operators are informed about all relevant line data. Errors are reduced, the output increased and downtimes are minimized.
How much did the OEE value increase? At one line the OEE value increased by 30 percent, reports Ivan Brnadic. “The other two lines are only running with OPAL for a short time therefore, the improvement is only at seven percent right now. Now we have live information of the current shift and the production data of the entire months at any time. We see online how our production performance changes. Therefore, we can concentrate on lines that cause problems and analyze them right away such as at what time did the problem occur, who was the operator, what was the output at that time and what data did the operator record in OPAL regarding the disturbance.”
This means that we can react faster to performance fluctuations. In addition, the impact of the measurements are apparent in a short amount of time due to OPAL.
“Before OPAL we discussed interruptions at the end of the month. With the software we react to performance problems that occurred several hours ago”, says Ivan Brnadic about the benefits of the line management software.
This is a huge time saving for Violeta. “Production data had to be analyzed in Excel and then imported into Navision”, recounts Ivan Brnadic. The preparation for the corrective actions took often four hours. With OPAL, there is only one mutual information source.
“Before OPAL we had several information sources – emails, handwritten reports, data from the machines, etc. At one point it was very difficult to make the correct decision based on this data”, says Ivan Brnadic. This was the reason why Violeta started looking for a software solution that combines all these information.
“OPAL changed the view of our employees in regards to production”Besides the improved OEE and huge time savings, the motivation of the operators is an important factor that makes OPAL so important to Violeta, says Ivan Brnadic. Since the operators see their performance data in real time, they react faster to disturbances and format changes and repairs are performed faster. “Being able to see your performance results every day, changed the view point of our employees in regards to the production process.” The production transparency is not only recognized by the operators but the vendors of Violeta. OPAL allows Violeta to trace the influence of flawed raw material. This is a great benefit for Violeta regarding warranty demands towards vendors. Every manufacture can profit from this method. The reasons for a lower OEE is traceable at any time and recognized and accepted by all participants.
Violeta determined Optima as a contractual partner since the OPAL project was already in the development phase, says Ivan Brnadic. In addition, Violeta was convinced by the number of industries and machines that OPAL can be used for.
“The largest challenge during the project was to create a mutual basis and to map-out the heterogeneous infrastructure system of the customer into OPAL”, reports Ralf Krumbiegel. The first test installation of OPAL in April 2017 was completed within one week and went live after another day. The fine adjustment, the selection of the relevant performance indicators together with the customer took most of the time. After a successful test phase on the first production line in Grude, the second line in Grude and the line in Zagreb were integrated by the two Optima Life Science software experts in spring of 2018.
“An integrated software, the dream of every company”Violeta is aiming high with OPAL. “Our plan is to install OPAL in all twenty production lines”, announces Ivan Brnadic. Three additional lines are being integrated into the line management system this year. The remaining lines follow in 2019. “Once we are able to link the print software for pallets and cartons into OPAL, we have a strong, integrated software package of which other companies can only dream of”, says Ivan Brnadic. Violeta will also use the software solution in their sales department. According to Ivan Brnadic, the principal can also be used there and problems can be solved faster due to the “just-in-time” information. “OPAL is a system that will allow the management of huge data volumes in the digital age”, Ivan Brnadic is convinced.
He sees great potential in the additional expansion of the line management software. The objective for Violeta according to Ivan Brnadic is certain: a paperless smart factory with one software that combines all programs and makes the company a forerunner in the “big data age”.
- Violeta produces paper hygiene products at numerous sites in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia.
- Optima has fitted three of the group’s production lines with OPAL line management software.
- With OPAL, Violeta has increased its overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by up to 30%.
- Violeta wants to further expand the use of the line management software. All twenty production lines are to be connected to this system.