Success Stories

To keep up with the competition, a chocolate manufacturer decided to drastically increase his capacity. With a planned tonnage of 36,000 tons, three times as much as before. The IPA team carefully examined the production processes to gain an overview of the  improvement potential and weak points in the production. After assessing the qualitative and quantitative aspects of various concepts, together with the plant manufacturer the team was able to develop a new layout of the works structure for the chocolate factory. This was supplemented by an automated sequence-planning tool to minimize cleaning and set-up requirements and implement an appropriately-sized high-bay warehouse for the finished products. The factory planners also compiled a list of assessment criteria to ensure a lean and sustainable layout.

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After a fire in an aluminum factory, IPA was commissioned not only to take over crisis management but also project management for the reconstruction of the production plant. The team used value stream design to identify ways of optimising production to make the factory fit for the future. The focus was on restarting production as soon as possible and optimising production processes. The concept was developed over a period of three months and implemented in agreement with the customer.

Value streaming a lime works

In recent years, the value stream method has been applied with great success to optimize production processes in all branches of industry. Fraunhofer IPA implements ten factory planning principles which have been tried and tested in numerous industrial projects.

Value stream analysis is used to systematically ascertain the status quo of a factory with all its relevant parameters. The resulting value stream diagram gives a clear overview of the factory, including material and information flows. This enables throughput times to be radically shortened and production control to be structured more clearly, as well as potential for improvement to be identified. Fraunhofer IPA focused on further improving how complex information flows are recorded at contract manufacturers, as well as in companies manufacturing multiple product variants.


Current situation

In a works that mines and calcinates lime products for the steel, chemical and construction industries, the complete production process from mining through to filling operations was analyzed.

The factory is divided into five departments, with each one forming part of the process chain. Because of this structure, there are different production planning and control processes which function independently of one another. Local disruptions in production often lead quickly to downtimes or idle states and impair downstream production steps. Although stocks diminish the spread of downtimes, long distances to storage areas result in the quarry being used inefficiently. The provision of finished products for seamless filling processes is a challenge regarding planning.


Approach and solution

Absolute and dynamic bottlenecks in the production process and logistics could be identified and solutions developed to rectify them. The main changes made were

  • different buffer sizes
  • the introduction of a superior control system with appropriate rules governing order of preference
  • modification of the maintenance strategy.

This made it possible to develop a concept for an ideal target state for a flow-based production process. Through this, the next steps could also be derived to design or implement immediate measures.

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