High-quality knitted and woven textiles have been the forte of BekaertDeslee for over 120 years. In the spring of 2018, the mattress-focused fabric firm recognized the value lying untapped in its manufacturing data, working with delaware to design a solution to capture it.
Harnessing the power of existing data
Belgian BekaertDeslee operates many weaving and knitting machines in 25 locations worldwide, providing superior fabrics for 100,000 mattresses per day.
“Each plant has its own manufacturing execution system, which collects information about the machines, such as speed, stops and stop reasons, maintenance periods, operator behavior, efficiency and output quality,” explains Rik Holvoet, CIO at BekaertDeslee. “This involves high volumes of data, which is stored locally. We’ve been gathering all this data for years, and new technological advancements made it the perfect time to put it to work for the business.”
Azure as the perfect foundation for cloud success
While identifying and tapping new data sources definitely offers new insights, the BekaertDeslee executive team was more interested in valorizing the data it already has.
“IoT is a hot topic right now, but it’s important not to underestimate the power and utility of combining existing data sources,” Rik cautions. “Our initial goal was to unlock local production data by combining it with our existing SAP ERP data. In the future, we plan to also embrace IoT, combining our existing data with new data gathered through IoT sensors and uploading it to the Azure cloud.”
BekaertDeslee relies on a variety of IT systems for its operations, developed by both SAP and Microsoft. Its IT team is also very supportive of cloud solutions, as they offer key advantages: “There’s no need to procure or configure equipment on premise, and it’s easy to benefit from economies of scale and mobility,” asserts Rik.
“We’re a Microsoft customer, and we had been using Azure for other applications,” he continues. “All the contracts were already in place, making Azure the perfect cloud solution for us.”
Centralizing sources and then connecting them with systems
On one hand, centralizing local data and uploading it to an SAP BI warehouse would open up a whole new world of operational insights by enabling analytics, metrics and other essential reporting functions across all plants and machines. On the other, connecting shop floor data with its SAP ERP system would allow BekaertDeslee to target and solve quality and supplier issues more efficiently.
“Once we ensure that these systems are implemented correctly and running smoothly, we’ll use our strong Azure base to add new functions, such as IoT sensing,” Rik continues. “Because Azure offers IoT platforms a great gateway, adding new data sources to it is a piece of cake.”
Two months after approaching delaware with this data centralization project, BekaertDeslee now has a working system that is still in the testing phase.
“We have collaborated with delaware for the last 12 years on SAP implementations and other IT projects. delaware consultants are experts in IT solutions for manufacturing with specific know-how in textiles, which makes their scope of services ideal for our business,” Rik concludes.
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