We are always eating. The only thing that changes is what and how much and that can depend on the weather, mood, and lockdown. Suppliers need to be on their toes to react, just like SPIES Kunststoffe GmbH located in Melle, northern Germany, who predominately manufacture packaging for salad and dairy products using injection moulding. As the entire IT landscape was due to be more universally integrated, the Bechtle subsidiary, MODUS Consult, implemented their software solution MODUS INDUSTRY based on Microsoft Dynamics, thus enabling employees to switch from working from home from one day to the next without impacting production.
SPIES Kunststoffe GmbH & SPIES Formen- und Werkzeugbau, also known as SPIES PACKAGING manufactures plastic packaging solutions primarily for the food industry. SPIES leverages an innovative in-mould labelling (IML) process, which is a one-step manufacturing process that takes place under hygienically perfect conditions. This sophisticated technology combines maximum quality with minimal use of plastic materials.
SPIES Packaging leverage just-in-time manufacture and logistics. Production is both automated and precise and carried out in independent sites on over 120 lines that can be converted and planned with exacting precision as required, through fully-automated processes and high-rise shelving. SPIES stands out from the competition thanks to its excellent response times.
Customers can order from SPIES at midday and get their deliveries at 16:00. This philosophy has seen SPIES Packaging consistently increase revenues over the last 20 years to some 100 million euros and now employees 450 staff. Since 2006, SPIES has been using the Microsoft Dynamics ERP software, to which the company connected its automated high-rack installations to achieve a highly optimised system. However, as the years have gone on, the system has reached the limits of its technical abilities. SPIES therefore decided to rethink its software to make the company fit for the future and just happened to be laying the foundations to deal with home office working in an unprecedented pandemic.
The Microsoft platform has given us the opportunity to continue to grow in the future and digitalise our processes. Using Microsoft Dynamics with Microsoft Office 365 meant our employees were able to work from home during the first COVID-19 lockdown without compromising on productivity, which made our lives significantly easier last year.
Michael Lethaus, Head of IT, SPIES Kunststoffe GmbH
SPIES Packaging’s initial aim was to guarantee the high standards of sequence planning, consistent barcode label printing on items and pallets plus the just-in-time deliveries with EDI retrievals and FTP integration. On the other hand, the entire IT landscape was to be more comprehensively integrated. This affected the ELO document management system, Office 365, the barcode scanners and the Hydra MES. Bechtle Group company, MODUS Consult, were tasked with the job of implementing the new ERP system, and its solution of choice was MODUS INDUSTRY based on Microsoft Dynamics. This supports SPIES to integrate production planning and logistics—the most critical areas for a supplier like SPIES Packaging. Those in planning have to know exactly what is currently in stock, how far it can go and what can be produced in which site. In this way, SPIES can optimally manage constant deviations from annual contracts with their just-in-time deliveries. Employees working on the line receive their production orders on terminals. The machines report shot numbers, runtimes, and downtimes per order back to MES HYDRA, which then carries out exact calculations to generate realistic forecasts. The label printers are ready and waiting to mark all boxes and corresponding pallets. Thanks to the new scanner-supported flow of goods in and between sites, transparency into the flow of value and goods is guaranteed at all times.
The new modern IT architecture provides an additional benefit. During the Corona crisis, Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics enabled all employees at SPIES to switch to working comfortably from home overnight without the need to set up extra remote desktop environments. This had no negative impact on user experience, and the small IT made up of management, two full time employees and a trainee was able to implement the necessary changes completely independently.
The cross-departmental processes and the opportunity to work from home are now much more transparent thanks to the high levels of system integration and the use of Microsoft Dynamics’ current standards. In addition, users are much more able to help themselves meaning that the SPIES IT department receive far fewer support enquiries than before. All huge benefits for the company.