The ERP systems engineer was able to adapt this specific view of Groninger, which does not exist at all in the ERP standard, independently via a VBA integration (Visual Basic for Applications). He sees this flexibility of the ERP standard as a very positive characteristic indeed: “Hardly any other systems offer the option of making adjustments to individual needs without outside support and without changing the standard.” During the upgrade it was possible to remain over 90 percent within the standard while still receiving an individual ERP solution.
The ERP system also administers warehouses with over 30 000 inventory items. This ensures that the right batch is found for the right order during picking. By means of a concurrent calculation PSIpenta evaluates the current status of all projects every night. Therefore the exact project statuses of the previous day are available every day. An evaluation then calls attention to warning functions, if, for example, a project is running over budget or deadlines are in danger.
The advanced automation and the flexibility also allow the special-purpose machine manufacturer to further increase capacity, to grow and to map all processes in an individual company way, without any complications. Hasenkopf sees the fact that PSIPENTA continually develops suggestions from the ranks of its customers and includes them in the standard as another advantage of the provider, and summarises: “We have confidence in our software partner, particularly because we experience the pronounced practical relevance for machine and special-purpose machine manufacturing.”
In the assembly there are individual assembly groups, each one of which has an “info point”. “We have aligned these info points precisely according to the needs of the final assembly”, says Hasenkopf and explains further: “If he enters a production number, the worker sees the complete structure of the order. He sees what’s missing and what has to arrive when. He receives an individual view of his order.” Different objects therefore do not need to be opened. With a single mouse click the user receives all the information necessary to execute the order.
“Our special- purpose machines are all individual solutions and genuinely unique items”, Hasenkopf emphasises. Therefore Sales configures all offers in the CRM system and allows Planning to review them for technical feasibility. A time estimate is also made with the estimated delivery date, and this offer is then coordinated with the customer until there is a final order.
The order is finally incorporated into the ERP system via the project management system, and production is thereby initiated. “Particularly important for us is the support for the documentation through the ERP software. Very high standards apply, particularly in the pharmaceutical area, but PSIpenta has helped us to meet them without any problems”, says Hasenkopf.
Component documentation in particular plays an important role here. Depending on the customer, all welded parts, for example, must be documented with X-ray tests and material certificates. As a result, more than ten types of documentation easily come together, with the same item requiring several types of documentation depending on the customer, or sometimes completely different documentation or none at all. The software distinguishes each individual component according to the required documentation and generates batches from this so that after completion the processing chain for each individual part can be followed down to the raw material.
The ERP standard PSIpenta of PSIPENTA Software Systems GmbH has been used successfully at Groninger since January 2004. At the turn of the year 2012/2013 a change was made to the current version 8.2. Rolf Hasenkopf, responsible ERP systems engineer at Groninger, explains the motive: “We are planning to replace our current project management system, and the new ERP version is the necessary basis for this. Additionally, we had to adapt our system to our constant growth and ensure its future viability.”
Of particular importance to Groninger is the sophisticated Multi-Site function of the ERP standard for central IT control of multiple plants. “We use Multi- Site for all three plants, for example for plant purchase orders and in-house cost allocations. And for our plant in the USA, the multilingualism of the new version, which allows for English labelling of the screens, is particularly valuable,” says Rolf Hasenkopf.
As the heart of the installation, the servers are stationed centrally in Crailsheim, and the branches, which operate self-sufficiently, are connected via Citrix. In this way, colleagues in the USA can access the construction plans from the German plants without any problems, if for example they need to perform modifications to machines. Similarly, items that are created in the respective plants are available to the entire group. “If you take a normal VW Golf and make an area variation out of it, both models will receive the same—effectively cross-plant—components. That’s also similar to the way it works with us”, explains Hasenkopf.
The family-owned business Groninger & Co. GmbH, founded in Crailsheim in 1980, is a specialist in the hygienic processing of pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations. As an innovation leader, Groninger designs precision technology from semi-automatic machines to fully automatic production lines as well as special industry services in close cooperation with its customers. This applies both to the design of individually deployable special machines and to the development of fully automated process lines.
The company has grown consistently since its founding. In 2001, the new building of a plant in Schnelldorf, Bavaria, was started. Today, solutions for the pharmaceutical industry are developed and produced in Crailsheim, while machines for the cosmetics industry are the core competence of the Schnelldorf plant. A branch founded in 2012 in Charlotte, USA, offers industrial services and after-sales services as well as firsthand consulting and sales. To date Groninger has delivered over 7 500 machines. 900 employees generate revenues of over EUR 100 million.
Special-purpose machine manufacturer Groninger in Crailsheim not only offers its customers constant innovations, it also uses an active release management for its ERP system with software upgrades and the introduction of new models. The “Hidden Champion”, which is active worldwide, sees the development and use of innovations as the basis for maintaining its competitiveness and future viability.