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industry solutions

Appronto and the industrial sector: solutions for the smart factory

 

Important trends

The industrial sector is one of the most vital and dynamic sectors in the global economy. Especially in our current digital age, the industry is in full swing. More than ever, the demand and specific needs of the end customer dictate the production process and the practical design of the supply chain. Continuous innovation, sustainable developments and global trends also mean that the industrial sector must constantly reinvent itself. The industrial sector is currently being reshaped by three predominant trends. We will explain them briefly.

1.   Industry 4.0

The first trend is the movement towards industry 4.0, a phenomenon often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution is increasingly turning the industries we know into “smart factories”, organisations that integrate advanced IT solutions into the full life cycle of a product or process.

Industry 4.0 networks a wide range of new technologies to create value and is shaped by the quick and successful adoption of the following groundbreaking innovations.

Industrie

  • The transition to the cloud ensures that end users and employees have access to applications and software anytime, anywhere via a stable and fast internet connection.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. The technology enhances the learning capabilities and performance of computers and applications. AI-powered devices and applications can recognize patterns and are able to make predictions and recommendations based on specific (often real-time) data. In addition, you can use AI to discover patterns and trends in large and unstructured data sources.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) connects machines to the internet in order to perform for instance predictive maintenance. Loading this data in a Mendix environment allows you to respond in an agile manner and prevent service interruptions.
  • Robotisation enables companies to automate production processes and repetitive actions.
  • 3D printing allows manufacturing companies to print their own (spare) parts. The main benefit? You can speed up your production with fewer tools and at a lower cost.

Joel van de Graaf

2.   Efficient processes

Boosting work efficiency and limiting wastefulness are essential when it comes to creating the industry of the future. The smart factory focuses on generating efficient processes by allowing you to gain the best possible insights into schedules, purchase orders, delivery reliability and stocks. Smart technology and digitisation are the main pillars on which efficient processes rest.

3.   Supply chain integration

Supply chain integration is a third important industrial trend that typifies the transition towards the smart factory of the future. Supply chain integration is a process that integrates all the parties involved with the fulfilment of a product into one single system and a universal source of truth. This requires significant coordination and alignment in order to ensure that everyone is effectively working towards the same goal at all times.

The principal aim of supply chain integration? Responding quickly, properly and at the lowest possible cost to the ever-changing demands of the client or consumer. Chain integration strives to achieve the best possible customer journey, while at the same time reducing the costs for all parties involved.

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Appronto’s experience in the industrial sector

Appronto is an experienced, knowledgeable and reliable partner for companies in the industrial sector. Appronto has plenty of experience in digitising production processes and knows how to properly integrate IT with the business side of a particular solution. We don’t solely focus on the digitisation process, but also take a close look at how a process works. What do you want to achieve? Which steps and process components can be arranged in a more efficient and effective manner? And what benefits should the digitalisation and modernisation of a process ultimately yield?

Moreover, Appronto not only builds the applications that enable supply chain integration for industry 4.0, but we also train IT teams. This means that you receive all the necessary in-house knowledge and capacity to quickly develop innovative applications and manage the smart factory.

 

Bottlenecks and solutions

There are a couple of common bottlenecks and problems that often resurface in industrial environments. For example, how do you create more efficiency in production, so that you can deliver more output within the same time frame? It all starts with digitisation. Reducing the number of manual actions in a process allows you to erase a large number of human errors. The result: more profitability because of time, cost and efficiency gains.

Paying careful attention to quality assurance and lean manufacturing allows you to realise maximum value for the customer with a minimum of waste (unnecessary costs, waste of energy and material). Working with digital twins (virtual representations of a product or process) enables major efficiency improvements in both the design and development phases. Simulating processes and product performances allows you to respond much better and quicker to bottlenecks, user experiences and possible defects.

Dealing with a long chain of suppliers is another potential area of concern. How do you ensure that you always have enough products in stock without overstocking your company warehouse(s)? How do you guarantee the best price? And how do you guarantee that IoT and AI data are used in such a way that they jumpstart the right workflows? Supply chain integration is the key. Supply chain integration enables you to map and consider the needs and interests of all stakeholders. This gives you the opportunity to optimally manage every separate phase of the production process and customer journey.

Bas van der Horst
Managing Director Appronto

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Customer cases and solutions

With the help of the Mendix and Boomi platforms, Appronto offers versatile solutions for the smart factory. Read on for a couple of striking examples.

Digitising processes – VDL

Appronto built a complete software factory for the well-known Dutch car manufacturer VDL. We optimised the existing application landscape and expanded it with a diverse spectrum of new applications. In addition, we provided VDL Nedcar’s very own software development team with thorough Mendix training. Under the guidance of Appronto, this team will eventually become the beating heart of VDL Nedcar’s low-code factory. The big takeaway of this approach? The company is now fully prepared for the digitisation of its business and manufacturing processes.

Mini

Supply chain integration at Secrid

Secrid, a company from the Dutch city of The Hague that creates beautiful and innovative wallets, uses a plethora of systems and databases. All of these IT components need to be able to communicate with each other. The company also has a portfolio of very specific products that, due to their unique nature, are difficult to bundle and manage in a standard software solution. Secrid also uses Mendix to manage the vast number of suppliers that it deals with.

With the help of Mendix and Boomi, Appronto has built a supplier portal for Secrid. This portal is the platform that helps Secrid and its suppliers to collaborate in a smoother and more efficient fashion. How? By making stock management and planning processes more transparent for all the stakeholders that are part of the supply chain. By continuously sharing insights, information and knowledge, the supplier portal creates one universal version of the truth for all the parties involved.

Weener Plastics’ smart factory

Weener Plastics is a renowned manufacturer of injection-moulded plastic packaging that operates on a worldwide scale. For this company, Appronto has developed an application that relieves employees of repetitive tasks that used to swallow a lot of time and manpower. This includes preparing adjustment overviews or making a transport request. An important step on the road to process optimization! In addition, we have trained Weener Plastics’ very own IT team within the company walls.

Due to the newly acquired knowledge, the team is now able to build innovative applications without the help of external developers. The ultimate goal: the creation of a sophisticated innovation factory that is able to deliver even smarter systems in the near future.