Managing growth from a logistics point of viewFebruary 28, 2020
The solar energy market has always been a market with spreads hard to predict. Nevertheless, for the past years, investments have been on the rise resulting in ever more solar power being installed around the world. For a PV-system manufacturer, new challenges arise as a result.
In Rangsdorf, Germany, manufacturing of Mounting Systems products take place. To keep up with our delivery reliability, we are implementing an agile, but well-planned logistics strategy. This project involves the reorientation of logistics, whereby the warehouse will be expanded, and logistics processes will be adapted.
The core business of Mounting Systems is the manufacture and sale of racking technologies for photovoltaic systems. Through continuous developments of products as well as the growing sales market, we are gaining new customers. In order to manage this growth in the future, continuous improvements are carried out. These can result from projects as well as the application of “Lean and Kaizen“.
The introduction of newly developed products also requires an increase in storing capacity. To ensure that the newly created storage areas are used just as efficiently as the existing ones, the processes must be adapted. For this purpose, Mounting Systems, as a member of the NWI Group, has accessed the knowledge of in-house consultants. They support the project process with their expertise and experience. Since, colleagues from NWI are not employed at Mounting Systems, they can detect operational blindness and bring lessons from other companies, which is important for a successful outcome.
In order to create a uniform level of knowledge, statistical analyses were carried out in the “Logistics Project 2020” and existing processes were critically analysed. Not only the members of the core strategy team were involved in each step, but also colleagues from the logistics. The colleagues identified potentials for improvement, which was implemented within the framework of the project.
Improved Material Flow
After analysis and evaluation of the collected results, a redesign must be developed. For this purpose, not only processes but also the physical division of the warehouse will be rethought. A material flow analysis is decisive for optimising material handling and areas will be reorganized and the processes designed accordingly.
Options that are being considered are the “Greenfield” strategy or the extension of existing structures. The concept of the “Greenfield” describes a planning on untouched ground, i.e. without any restrictions, which are caused by existing structures or technologies. The second option, takes always into account and adapts to, already existing technologies. Another possibility is to align the product, in this case the layout of the warehouse, with the process. First a process is defined through the analysis of the goods receiving and goods outgoing as well as the raw material handling. As a result, the layout can be planned in a senseful manner.
In all divisions of a company, workflows and processes are continuously changed and adjusted. This is the mindset of a process engineer; looking for opportunities and never stay static. At Mounting Systems GmbH, the process engineer applies these steps as a guideline:
- Continuous questioning
- Analysing the processes
- Finding potential for improvement
- Applying it
As a result, the processes are further developed and would replace old processes that are inadequate.
There are many ways to find a solution for a project. Process engineers can make use of several statistical analyses and empirical methods. However, it is important to carefully select methods based on the characteristics of the specific project.
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