Today, digitalization at the main plant in Aachen is well advanced. The ERP software by CSB-System, which is the central data turntable, connects all players with each other: the staff in administration and the workers in production and logistics, but also machines and equipment as well as the various electronic devices like hand-held scanners, tablet PCs and smart glasses. Particularly important is that all data between the operators flows in real time to ensure that the data is always up to date while providing maximum transparency throughout all stages of the value chain.
The positive effects of digitalization are also tangible in production, where paper is no longer used today. Instead, the production staff uses tablet PCs during weighing. The tablets display all relevant details, for instance manufacturing methods, safety instructions and raw material lists. The intuitive user interface can be operated easily also by employees without IT experience, enabling the acknowledgment of processes in the mixing department, the input of SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) numbers or the entry of tare and other data related to the mixture.
This makes for safe mixing processes and better documentation and logging of the entire manufacturing process. As a result, every finished product batch has traceable links to the related intermediate product batch and even to the raw material. “Traceability is an important subject for us as cosmetics manufacturer. As we are working in accordance with cosmetics GMP, we are required to document every single process step. Introducing the tablet PCs in production was actually a quantum leap for our enterprise. This was the first time that our workers were able to report back the production data in real time.”
A further major technological step has been taken by Babor in order picking. Until a few years ago, the employees used
to remove products from the shelves and tick them off in their picking lists. Today, most of the items are handled with a pick by light system. Illuminating lights installed at the shelves identify the storage location holding the items to be picked. The picker acknowledges the removal by pressing a key and feedback is given to the ERP simultaneously. “The postings in real time have improved the transparency of our stock levels substantially. Consequently, we can eliminate out-of-stock as well as excess stock situations.” In the high-bay warehouse, employees work with Google glasses, which guide the pickers through the hall for processing their orders. This method called ‘pick by vision’ saves Babor around 18 percent in time.
Even though the digitalization at Babor is already remarkable, the “Smart Factory” project has not been completed yet. In the future, it will mainly be about utilization of the data. But this will only work if the ERP system integrates all relevant subsystems, machines and equipment and consequently secures smooth information flows. With CSB’s own DT (Data Trade) standard interfaces, all subsystems can be connected and the data, for example from the online shop, can be imported. “Traceability will remain an important subject for us in the years to come, and we are convinced that in CSB, we found the right partner for the future.”