Bringing continuous improvement to the warehouse process with Business Process Intelligence

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INFORMATION: Free information is available from Vanderlande on the subject in this story. Click here to request a copy

For each warehouse and distribution centre, effective process analysis is the first step towards performance improvement. But up to now process analysis has usually been done on an ad hoc basis, using observations and measurements over only a short period of time.

Essential data from control systems such as a PLC is usually not stored in a database, or is kept for only a short time. The result is that analyses of system and process performance are often based on gut feeling or at best on data over only a short time span, rather than on proper measurements over the full range of operating conditions and workloads. Thanks to Business Process Intelligence (developed by Vanderlande Industries) it is possible to improve warehouse performance significantly.

Add value to the operational process

With the aim of delivering real added value to everyday logistic operations, Vanderlande has developed a diagnostics and performance management tool, called BPI (Business Process Intelligence), to continuously work on process improvement. This tool allows costs and throughput times to be reduced and process performance to be improved. As a result, customers are able to improve control of both system performance and their overall logistics process.

Access to operational data

One of the main aims of BPI is providing the operational data on which to base the process analysis. This tool extracts and stores the required performance data from the control systems. By automatically generating a wide range of customer specific reports, BPI provides comprehensive insight into system and process performance, so corrective actions can be taken and performance can be fine-tuned to better meet operating needs. BPI retains data from the control systems for a longer period, for example one year, in a central database. Linked to the database is a reporting tool which contains a range of standard reports, while customised reports can easily be added to meet specific requirements.

Performance monitoring and troubleshooting

The reports allow performance monitoring at system and component levels, showing faults and errors as well as trends in system performance and workload. Using this information, process optimisation and corrective actions can be taken based on the top 10 most relevant issues, instead of following a time consuming
ad hoc approach. Fast, effective troubleshooting is supported by drilling down to root causes. Actions can even be initiated remotely, shortening response times and reducing on-site service calls. As well as supporting performance optimisation, using BPI also increases service effectiveness, replacing fire-fighting by controlled, predictive maintenance. Preventive maintenance will be condition-based instead of time-based.

A range of reports for different information needs
Predictive & Preventive Maintenance reports:
Keep track of run cycles and/or times, for example to predict when components such as motors are likely to fail. Timely preventive replacement will reduce downtime, leading to higher reliability and availability.

Track & Trace reports:
Allow analysis of product flows based on barcodes, batch IDs or SKU numbers. These reports can show
what happened to specific totes or conveyed products.

Disturbance & Failure reports:
Provide insight into the systems faults and failures history. Where SCADA systems only indicate current failures, the BPI reports allow structural analysis based on historical data, allowing improvements to be defined that will reduce disturbances and improve stability.


Flow & Capacity reports:
Provide insight into product flow on the system, and calculate the actual system capacity over specified timeframes.

Completing operations on time at GLS thanks to BPI

General Logistics Systems (GLS) in Utrecht, the Netherlands, has already experienced the advantages of BPI for process analysis. GLS aims to finish night operations at 04:00 hours, but in fact this was often not possible until 05:00 or 06:00, and in some cases operation even had to be stopped before all trailers had been unloaded. Major cause was sub-optimal use of the available system capacity. GLS Logistics Manager Hans Willems contacted Vanderlande Industries for support in process analysis and improvement. BPI made it possible to measure capacities, disturbances and other aspects of its logistics process, allowing overall process analysis. Based on what we learned, we were able to take action to reduce downtime and improve capacity utilization, says Hans Willems. By significantly improving performance in those areas we can now reliably complete our night operations on time. We are now using BPI for continuous process optimization, helping to keep costs down and reduce operating hours.

 

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