Optimization Models

Panel Presentation: Data and Analytics

Nicole MüllerSalzburg (A), October 2019 – Everyone is talking about data and analytics in learning, but who is actually doing anything and why does it matter? This session demonstrates what can be done with analytics and data to guide your learning implementations. Nicole Müller from Geislinger GmbH, Austria, will speak about "Industry 4.0: Implementation and Management of a Skills-Based Production Planning System" on Thursday, 28 November, from 14.30 to 15.45. Nicole Müller is Training Manager at Geislinger, a global market leader for torsional vibration dampers for large engines.

Can you help us envisage a skills-based production planning system?

Nicole Müller: Our production-planning system is a multi-resource system that was developed in-house by GEISLINGER and has constantly been upgraded since 2006. It is able to integrate all the resources needed - such as machines, employees, materials, CNC program, machining tools, and operator skills - to produce a given product. Depending on different optimization models, which can be set individually by the current economic situation, it will plan every work task in (nearly) real time. Furthermore, it is able to react immediately to disruptions like machining downtime, absent employees, and other missing resources.

How is it different from other production planning systems?

Nicole Müller: Most production-planning systems on the market do not take employee skills into consideration. Every task is planned depending on the machine, but not on skills of the operators themselves. In production plants where there is only one production line or only a few products/machines, or where any given employee has the general capability to do the job, this is not an important feature. However, at our production site, which has more than 200 workplaces and over 12,000 products that can be produced in more than one way throughout the plant, it is not possible to plan efficiently without taking the skills of the 450 employees into account.
For example, imagine that product X has to be produced. The manufacturing of product X should take place on machine Y. There are ten operators who are trained to operate machine Y, and four of them are currently onsite in this work shift. However, let’s say product X is made of composite material and handling it requires a special skill. In this case, our production planning system would only assign this task to a fully capable operator. If none of the four operators had the required skill, and if the task were urgent, our production planning system would reorganize the work task to an alternative (but less efficient) machine. If the job were not urgent, it would plan the task for a work shift during which a qualified operator is present.

What concrete benefits do companies derive from such a system? And what about employees?

Nicole Müller: The benefit of a skill-based production planning system is huge. For example, if an operator were unable to start the work task, all the effort to bring material/machining tools upfront to the workplace is lost. Furthermore, the work task has to be reorganized to another work place, which results in decreased machining time. If the operator fails to communicate that she or he is not able to do the task, mistakes could lead to bad product quality, longer production time, or even machine damage. In all cases, this would lead to inefficiency and higher costs. In a worst case scenario, regarding special safety skills, this could even lead to employees suffering severe injury.
Our production planning system ensures a safe work place that is adapted to the employees’ abilities. Additionally, many operators are motivated to develop their skills even further.

What type of effort was required in deploying the system?
Nicole Müller: In the first step, we implemented a skills management system (in our case, commercially available software was used). Many people were required to define and catalogue all the necessary skills and to build the whole system according to our needs. Secondly, we had to extend the features of our production planning system with the new SKILL MODULE. In the last step, we developed a standard interface between our skills management system and our in-house production planning system. Now, we are able to connect any skills management system with this interface.