In more than 80 factories in 30 countries, Provimi manufactures animal feed concentrates, premixes, additives and specialties which are delivered to feed manufacturers worldwide. The Provimi company was formerly a decentralized organization. That was changed in 2007 when the organization chose the 'One - Provimi' strategy. Processes and systems are now gradually being unified and centralized.
Provimi decided to use a global ERP system, SAP, and configured it the same for all plants. Because the production machines operate different in the several factories, Provimi decided not to standardize the Production Control Systems. For the shop floor automation, Provimi chose explicitly for standardization. "Labeling and barcode scanning are complex processes with many dependencies. A solution for labeling and scanning should run smoothly as one integrated process. Because we often must deal with changing laws and regulations, we would like to work in a standardized environment. If an adjustment is required for legal regulation, we can make just one change instead of many changes for all the countries where the law applies," said Mohamed Seali, Global IS Operations and Integration Manager.
The Rotterdam head office has been working for years with satisfaction along with RFgen's affiliated partner, Actemium. "Actemium has proven in the past they cannot only automate the process, but they can also add business logic to it. They could include the functionality we lacked in our previous ERP package. Furthermore, they have an organization that can handle a global roll-out. That is important because about every three months a new cluster of countries is going live on SAP including the shop floor automation consisting of the middleware application RFgen, NiceLabel and MET/TRACK Manager. RFgen brings the ERP functionality from SAP to the shop floor, and MET/TRACK Manager adds user management, logging and reporting capabilities to it," Seali noted.
Provimi had four requirements for the Actemium solution: flexibility, manageability, scalability and performance.
"We implement a standardized solution, but local sites must have sufficient flexibility to do things in their own way. Despite these required adjustments, the application must remain manageable. This should not lead to a monster of an application -- the solution must be scalable," explained Seali. "And perhaps the most important thing of all, the performance needs to be at a very high level. It is unacceptable the production staff must wait for a label or a pick proposal. The problem is that manageability and performance are often contradictory to flexibility and scalability. It is a challenge to combine all four requirements.
Even with all these factors, the result was successful. Actemium developed a blueprint that covered 80% of the needs of all sites, yet left room for the individual sites to implement processes in a way most efficient to their operations. Because RFgen Mobile Foundations for SAP supported all of the critical business processes needed, it was decided to use it at the plant level to manage the barcode scanning and labeling systems. SAP runs on a centralized server where all sites login via a WAN connection. There is a real-time connection between RFgen and SAP. Should the connection fail in lower technological countries such as Vietnam or Columbia, the factory is able to keep running on RFgen regardless.
You know at the beginning you will encounter unforeseen difficulties because we were implementing SAP and the shop floor solution simultaneously. It required cooperation between RFgen, Capgemini (the implementation partner for SAP) and Actemium. That cooperation was very good. We always found a quick solution for issues and we learned from each implementation which made the next implementation a lot quicker. We ended up being perfectly on schedule.
- Mohamed Seali, Global IS Operations and Integration Manager