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Vald. Birn

Operator Systems has brought leading European foundry company, Vald. Birn A/S digitalised documentation, complete traceability and total overview of the entire production process.

The air is heavy with heat and the special scent tons of steel give off when transformed
from solid to liquid mass. A ton heavy magnet crane dives into the piles of scrapheap
of iron, lifts off cuts, steel scraps and other recycling iron and at once lets its load be
swallowed up by the crucibles glowing gab. Even though it could bring reminiscence of
a world in chaos and purgatory like conditions it is in fact the complete opposite.
At Vald. Birn – Denmark’s largest and eldest foundry company – everything is in its usual
perfect order

Vald. Birn A/S Logo

Process control is key

For Vald. Birn product durability and quality is absolute key. Parts for Volvo-trucks wheel suspension, steering gear for Mercedes cars or elements for central heating systems must per definition be 100 percent perfect.

Everything right from the melted scrapheap iron, the special product alloy or sand shapes which models melted iron into up to 3,000 various product numbers at Vald. Birn must be supervised and the quality documented. If a mistake occurs in a product even the most minor irregularity must be able to be traced back to the production process. Strict quality control and process documentation is therefore business critical for Vald. Birn and traceability and documentation are essential to the West Jutland foundry giant.

Goodbye to paper slips

Today recordings of orders, processes and quality measurements are automated by an IT-solution from Operator Systems. Up to spring 2004 all of this occurred manually through the assistance of delivery notes for every single production. According to Financial Director Leif Jensen the situation was untenable. Among other things due to continuing demands for process documentation making it more and more difficult to maintain the desired overview of the many links in the production process.

Our order and process control was previously purely based on paper, which meant there were slips everywhere and miles of ring binders. It worked, but the access to data on production processes and other important delivery documentation was a very heavy task„, he says and continues:

Customers are making still further demands on traceability and documentation. Hence, we needed an IT-solution which could automate and optimize our process surveillance and traceability. Simultaneously we wanted a larger visual overview of the many steps in production on the actual production floor.

Vald. Birn A/S

ERP Add-On

Back in 2003 Vald. Birn decided on a complete renovation of the company’s ERP-system. The choice fell on a Movex-system from Lawson, which would also be useful for production process control and have a life in the halls of production. But according to Financial Director, Leif Jensen, who is responsible for the ERP-project at Vald. Birn, Movex was too big a mouthful for the operators in the foundry and the machine shop.

Our operators are not accustomed to working with IT. Thus, we wanted an IT-process tool which was as intuitive and easy to use as possible. The system should also be able to be customized for the individual employee’s specific function and task” explains Leif Jensen.

As an alternative and an add-on to the Movex business system Leif Jensen were presented with Operator, an IT-solution from Operator Systems, which very accurately delivered the requested.

The people from and Operator Systems merely showed us a few screens of the Operator solution before we were done for. The user interface was exactly what we wanted, and we could very precisely customize screen images and popup menus,” says Leif Jensen.

The Movex-ERP project and the implementation of Operator were kicked off at the same time in May 2004. Operator works as the ERP-systems extended arm in the production environment – regardless of whether the company is using Movex, SAP or any other ERP-system.

Iron by airmail

Implementing the Operator-solution in production has met all expectations at Vald. Birn. As Leif Jensen puts it:

Production wise Operator has been a great success from day one and given us a platform which is incredibly well designed to meet future requirements.

In the midst of 1,500 degrees centigrade hot crucibles, ingeniously constructed lift systems for ton heavy containers with liquid iron and advanced cast iron machinery a total of 170 IT-clients today have their main place. Amongst all this the analysis department is strategic placed in the center of the production hall. Here tests on melting and various alloys land for analysis and quality control via airmail.

The analysis department’s principal duty is to analyze sample and the element composition. And if you know your periodical system, you will recognize elements like Ti, Pb, Cu and Zn, when laboratory technicians make light measurements of the 20 different alloys that Vald. Birn produces.

All measurement results end up in Operator and are here joined together with the production intended for the individual alloy – for example the cast iron wood-burning stove from Morsø or a pump element for Grundfos. Hence the operators continuously have access to all data on a specific order on their own Operator client„explains Leif Jensen.

Customized process overview

There has been very high satisfaction with the new digital era at Vald. Birn. Not least with the flexible adjustment possibilities in the system from Operator Systems which has been crucial for the rapid and smooth implementation of the IT-system in the production environment.

With the customization the individual operator has received an overview of precisely the data and registration possibilities relevant to them – neither more nor less.

Operators today have complete overview over current orders, analysis results, alloy compositions and quality. It is in Operator they register the business crucial process information, and it is here they report their individual accord information” says Leif Jensen.

The information goes straight into a main database in the ERP-system. From here management can promptly recreate all information on an order in details. And from here the payroll office has automatic overview of the individual employees’ specific pay conditions, accord etc.

No fancy abbreviations

For Vald. Birn the investment in the IT-solution from Operator Systems has not been about ROI or TCO. They wanted a software platform, which could put the ERP-system in foundry and machine shops.

The solution had to support our production and create an improved overview. That was its purpose. Hence it was the production processes that dictated the IT-platform, not the other way around” says Leif Jensen.

The improved overview the solution from Operator Systems has contributed to means that all process information now is gathered in one place, in the main database. Today, this is where all information on when a good is produced, on times of analysis and alloy quality and which operators were involved in the production process.

Following, the quality of traceability in the production process has also become entirely different. Causes for errors in production have become far easier and quicker to pinpoint and this is necessary to ensure that the scrap percentage never exceeds two percent.

Discipline is crucial

Today the management at Vald. Birn is experiencing employees who wish for specific improvements or shortcuts to screen images they use a lot. This indicates that the Operator solution is valuable to the operators in their daily work and that they understand just how important the digital process documentation is to the company.

Quality and discipline in our data retrieval is crucial. Garbage in – garbage out, as one says. After the implementation of Operator our process documentation has reached a completely new level” says Leif Jensen and adds:

We are even commended by Bureau Veritas, which carries out the auditing on our certifications.

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