A timetable for digitisation

Arbonia and its companies are becoming more and more digital. In an interview, Berkan Sezer (BS), Project Manager Digitisation of the Doors Division, and Martin Kindle (MK), Team Leader Business Applications of the Arbonia Group, explain what projects they are driving forwards at the Doors Division and how that changes the working procedure at the company.

To what extent does digitisation have an effect on reaching sustainability goals?

BS: The classic example is saving paper through digitised processes. This is quickly achieved. However, at Arbonia it is about more. Let’s take our new configurator DOORIT, for example, which replaces manual calculation. This system cannot configure any doors that cannot be produced as well. Therefore, no rejects occur and consequently almost no materials have to be disposed of unnecessarily.

What role does the implementation of the uniform SAP system play in a digital value-added chain at the Doors Division?

MK: With the harmonised SAP system, we create the prerequisite for all further steps of our digital transformation. At the current time, we are gradually introducing the modern ERP system SAP S / 4 HANA at our companies. Until 2019, the four companies of the Doors Division still used different systems, which made it difficult to create a common database and thus go in the direction of digitisation. Our approach is now based on an integrative system in the form of a global template on which all companies can build. Digitisation means finding a common denominator, in other words, harmonising processes and minimising interfaces.

BS: SAP is at the heart of all future projects for our digitisation. This gives us a basis with which we can design the strategy, implementation and realisation of the individual projects. These projects can also run parallel and dock onto the existing environment. This can be DOORIT, it can be a 3D rendering, or the digital door manual. Because everything is based on a common data pool.

Can you sketch out how the digitisation roadmap of Arbonia will look like and what objectives will be pursued with it?

BS: We are currently in the process of creating the above-mentioned common data pool, the so-called single point of truth, or SPOT for short. In the final expansion stage, it should be possible for us to digitise the entire value-added process – starting with the dealer who configures the door via DOORIT. The dealer can import the door to his or her merchandise management. The order is immediately transferred to the production line, which is in turn highly automated up until delivery. The entire process takes place on a digital level with very many check mechanisms and is thus hardly prone to error.

MK: The SAP integration allows us to collect, process and quickly evaluate data. This is now automatically possible, even in real time. This accelerates our processes and we increase efficiency as well as productivity. However, the pandemic has also shown that we can increase resiliency and flexibility through digitisation. Our goal is to be able to adjust our business model to the market requirements quickly and easily when framework conditions change.

The Invado company is a kind of pilot project for the transformation of the Doors Division. What has been implemented there?

MK: At Invado, we have completely restructured the web shop on the customer side. At the same time, we have further digitised the production with SAP. On the one hand, this concerns the entire production planning. On the other hand, we have implemented a manufacturing execution system, in short MES. This allows us to link the business processes in the SAP system with the machine connection.

What is going to happen with the rollout and what findings from the Invado project can help with this?

MK: The objective is to go live with PRÜM and GARANT by 2024; afterwards, our Swiss company RWD Schlatter will change over to SAP. The global template, which represents the basis for the next rollouts, will help us with all further projects. We are thereby creating a harmonised system. During the Invado project, we have improved a few things that did not run smoothly at the beginning. Processes were also optimised. All of these findings are now included in the global template.

Transformation not only concerns the use of software but the working procedures at the company. How do you inspire colleagues for the change?

BS: At the Doors Division, we work on projects of a certain magnitude, which require agile methods and tools. Before we introduce something new, we offer the employees training and coaching. In addition, there are several stand-ups and synchronisation meetings every week in which we convey the advantages of modern working procedures directly in the project. One example: Instead of Excel, the colleagues are increasingly using tools such as Jira or Confluence for documentation. As a result, processes are streamlined and inconsistencies between different documents are minimised. Another example is the kanban board with which we display the status of a project and assign tickets to members in a project team. In our experience, the communication always remains professional, calm and constructive because all members are working with the same method and the focus is not on personal matters.

MK: I would like to add knowledge management as an important adaptation. We want to transfer the wide knowledge and the competency regarding processes that are inside people’s heads to a system to which all other employees have access. With a modern ERP system, it is possible to establish a standard for this. At the same time, however, it is important to create trust in this system so that the employees also consider it their personal system.