New Industry-Specific ERP System for Polymer Compounders from Baader Computer, spol. s r.o.
Polymer-Chemie Group was facing a precedent-setting decision during mid–2008. It had to introduce a new system to depict its corporate processes. Although the in-house developed software modules “Inventory Management,” “Production” and “Quality Assurance” used to date pragmatically handled many corporate functions in a user-friendly way, over the course of time, these modules no longer could meet the requirements of the growing and increasingly diversified Group.
An analysis conducted by external consultants quickly identified the obvious approach to solving the problem: “introduction of a standard ERP system!” The consultants developed an initial software roll-out scenario including a rough cost estimate. However, Polymer business management decided to take a closer look at the proposal after hearing about negative experiences of friendly companies with “significant budget overruns” and “establishment of standard processes that were unsuitable for the industry.”
A second analysis focused on the process-related objectives of Polymer Group:
- Which operational processes must be pragmatically depicted by the system in an industry-specific way?
- How do suitable systems support these processes?
- Do the new processes improve the efficiency of work task handling?
The result of this analysis was surprising! The analysis revealed that instead of a standard system, 3–4 partially specific industry applications would be needed to efficiently depict the relevant business processes in line with the needs of the industry. And, of course, these systems had to closely dovetail with each another via interfaces.
A comprehensive standard ERP system that depicted the key processes of compounders in a holistic, consistent and industry-compatible way was not available on the market.
A Polymer Compound Manufacturer Orders Development of an Industry Solution
In this situation, Polymer-Chemie Group business management decided to take an unusual approach. It contracted the development of a specialised industry solution that was able to depict the business processes of all Group companies in a standardised but also industry-specific way. The guideline for the development work was: “As standardised as possible and as individual as necessary!” From the very beginning of this project, Kirchhoff Datensysteme Software focused on developing an industry-specific ERP system. In this context, ERP meant that all operational corporate processes must be consistently depicted within an integrated corporate database so that all Company departments can work hand-in-hand in completing their work processes.
3 circumstances contributed to the success of this demanding project:
1. The existing, in-house developed modular software
Individual modules developed in-house by the Company’s IT department head using in-depth understanding of the fundamental departmental processes provided a robust framework for process and functional analyses.
2. Close involvement of professional personnel
The process and functional models were developed based on existing deviation analyses while working closely together with the respective operational managers.
3. Scope of requirements of Polymer Group
Polymer Group consists of seven, independent companies. Although they all are polymer compounders, each company has its own process specifics. These are sometimes due to the type of business. In other cases, they are based on historical developments or management personnel decisions.
This meant that from the very beginning of the project, there was a lot of pressure to identify business-critical special needs and industry-specific requirements for standardisation.
“As individual as necessary and as standardised as possible!”
Module-Based Introduction of Poly.ERP
The new “Poly.ERP” industry solution was developed and introduced on a module basis. The first modules went live at the PVC compounding subsidiary in August 2010. A number of fundamental changes in work processes were introduced at the same time:
Container-Based Inventory Control
Barcode-controlled inventory administration using mobile data terminals was introduced with Poly.ERP. Using this system, each container is marked with a barcode upon receipt until it is consumed, from its manufacture until it is shipped. That way, it can be tracked throughout its logical lifecycle via scanner. The simple, user-friendly scan functions have been designed so that they can be easily used by production and logistics employees.
Order-Integrating Production Planning
The production control station is directly connected with booked order data so that integrated order delivery date-based production planning can be made without circulating documents. The software also considers industry-specific order types such as toll compounding orders, master call-off orders and production/technical special cases such as blending processes and start-up control for granulate materials.
Scanner-Controlled Production Processes
Regardless of whether batch tracking, raw materials consumption, material demand or manufacture of finished products is involved: All production processes are directly recorded by a scanner and are available for review in the system.
The modules were developed one after another and successively introduced in the Polymer Group companies. A comprehensive ERP system was developed during an almost five-year period that covers all operational processes of the polymer compounder.
Special solutions were implemented in addition to the normal business processes of a formulation-based compounder.
A business integration module for external companies was implemented. This interface manager enables an externally operated logistics centre to be connected with Poly.ERP. With this configuration, for example, documents are electronically exchanged between the Company subsidiary Polyblend and an important customer.
Integration of the Russian Subsidiary
Introduction of Poly.ERP to the Russians subsidiary “OOO Tula Polymer” of the Polymer-Chemie Group required that several country-specific system processes also be depicted. It was very helpful that the Poly.ERP software architecture was designed for multilingual use throughout the system. Modifications to suit customer-specific processes of a polymer compounder can be easily made using parameter control.
Continuous Practical Focus
In addition to expanding modules and departmental functions, Polymer-Chemie Group, working together with Kirchhoff Datensysteme Software (KDS), established a continuous process improvement process. Operating managers from all operational areas and system developers continuously work on improving the efficiency, practical applicability and controllability of work processes and the related system functions. The results of this work are routinely included in new software releases and thereby continuously improve the work sequence organisation within the Company.
Kirchhoff Datensysteme Software has been marketing the “Poly.ERP” ERP system as a specialised industry solution for polymer compounders in the European market since the beginning of 2012. In doing so, KDS is striving to become the market leader in the ERP field for polymer compounders. To achieve this objective, KDS will continue the practically-oriented further development of the system that was begun with Polymer-Chemie. Each new customer gained will help KDS to further expand the functionality of the software, a process that will benefit all existing customers.
Company Profile Polymer-Gruppe
Polymer Group is headquartered the Bad Sobernheim, Germany, and originated from Polymer-Chemie GmbH, an independent, privately owned company founded in 1973 that compounds, refines and modifies polymers. Polymer Group flexibly and efficiently supports its customers throughout Europe with innovative and tailor-made products of the highest quality.
Today, Polymer Group comprises seven polymer compounding companies – Polymer-Chemie, Polyblend, TechnoCompound, PolyMIM, Polymer-Chemie Rus, Sun Alloys Europe and Masterbatch Winter. 400 employees contributed to sales of about EUR 150 million in 2011.
Company Profile Polymer-Chemie
Polymer-Chemie is an independent, privately owned company that considers itself as a link between raw material manufacturers and the plastics processing industry. Polymer-Chemie compounds, refines and modifies polymers, conducts customer-specific development work and responds to current market requirements with new products. Developing innovative products and new formulations is the core competence of Polymer-Chemie.
Market Leading Supplier of PE, PP and PVC Compounds in Germany
The Polymer-Chemie business activities are focused on compounding PE, PP, PVC and technical plastics for customers in Germany and Europe. Polymer-Chemie is one of the leading polymer compounding companies in Germany. It is particularly strong in the PVC and polyolefin compounding segments both with its own products and with toll compounding products.
Customer-Oriented Product Development and Application-Technical Consulting
Polymer-Chemie utilises its many years of experience in manufacturing customer-specific formulations and providing colour matches for all established processing procedures. Its customers benefit from its rapid clarification of technical requirements as well as its flexibility and speed in sampling, production and delivery. Polymer-Chemie also offers its customers tailor-made support and consulting services provided by qualified application engineers in starting up new compounds on site and in technically optimising production processes.
Kirchhoff Datensysteme Profile
Kirchhoff Group has been operating for more than 22 years as a respected software development and system house. It has more than 100 employees and offices in Erfurt (home office) and Mainz (Wackernheim). It also has a development center in Prague and additional locations in the Czech Republic (Šumperk, Brünn and Budweis).
Kirchhoff Group initially focused on development partnerships with large automobile companies. During the past few years, it has also gained customers from a wide range of industries.
At the beginning of 2012, KDS positioned itself as a supplier of standard ERP software for polymer compounders and has been very successful with its products in this industry.
Kirchhoff Datensysteme Software GmbH & Co. KG
Kleine Hohl 45
Kirchhoff Datensysteme Services GmbH & Co. KG
Baader Computer, spol. s r.o.
186 00 Prague 8
- Pavel Helia