Efficient quality management is key to creating lean processes and satisfied customers. FIEGE is further advancing digitalisation at the location in Melle which is part of the Business Unit Industry & Tires. To conveniently and transparently ready the packaging for around 6,000 sets a day, the employees working in flow production use mobile terminal devices. This guarantees high process reliability and a low error rate.
Many are quite familiar with the problem: While putting together a new item of furniture it turns out that an important part is missing. Obviously, something went wrong when compiling the set. Whether screws, wooden dowels, or metal fittings – if not included in the box, it would be impossible to complete the job. And the customer will most likely be rather unhappy about this. Effective quality management for the packaging process is therefore an important success factor.
This also applies to our branch in Melle. We store, ready, and pack semi-finished products for the international maker of furniture fittings, Hettich. The family business based in Kirchlengern in East-Westphalia produces sets for quality drawer, sliding door, and folding door systems used in home and office furniture. Since 2018, the Hidden Champion has entrusted the distribution of its products across the South-European B2B market to FIEGE.
Crucial pillars of the corporate strategy
The company operates five production lines where employees box the sets based on specific bills of materials and packing patterns. This is a precision task of major value. FIEGE branch manager Maik-Eric Finger explains: “Around 6,000 parcels leave the conveyor belt daily. All of them must be properly packed and labelled accordingly.” To check and document packaging even more effectively he has decided to transform the on-site quality management: “Digitalisation and innovation form two central pillars of our corporate strategy. We aim to keep pace with the times and offer added value to our customers even in this regard.”
More recently, Melle introduced the use of tablets for quality control purposes. “The aim was to simplify manual checking of the packing processes with technology-based assistance in order to free up our employees”, Finger says. For this, the FIEGE Group’s Central IT devised a mobile app for the FIEGE Business Intelligence Portal (FBIP) which until now served documentation purposes at stationary workstations. “The information is stored centrally on a server. All paper-based process flows and the related folder management have since been a thing of the past. And even the follow-up in the event of an error takes a few seconds only”, the branch manager adds.
FIEGE Group’s Central IT devised a mobile app for the FIEGE Business Intelligence Portal.
Continuous process improvement and expansion of the functionality
To initially take only a partial automation approach to the packaging processes was, according to Finger, a rational decision more than anything else: “Error susceptibility and documentation requirements are highest for the production lines.” Therefore, digitalising the quality control would result in the most obvious effects. And successfully so: “We have verifiably lowered the error rate and hence the number of complaints, and benefit from high data availability plus transparent processes. This proves worthwhile in the long run even from a financial viewpoint”, is how the branch manager highlights the advantages for customers.
Minor system bugs were remedied, and the app was continuously optimised following a short testing phase. In the meantime, the modern and simpler working method has shown to clearly increase the satisfaction even of employees. “Naturally, I feel very strongly about the motivation of our colleagues on the shopfloor”, Finger adds. The project has proven such a success that all documentation steps from inbound to outbound goods are to be digitalised by the end of the year.
Focus on sustainability
“Our long-term plan is to roll out the approach through our LEAN organisation to other corporate areas”, is how the branch manager outlines the concept. Since this significantly reduces the use of paper, the measure proves worthwhile also from a sustainability aspect. “FIEGE has been a pioneer of sustainable logistics for years now. Using the opportunities that digitalisation has to offer in relation to sustainability is of existential importance for a dynamic corporate development”, Finger says.