Stork Food & Dairy Systems
CAD as management instrument
About Stork Food & Dairy Systems
Stork Food & Dairy Systems has developed, manufactured and supplied filling and packaging machines for the dairy, soft drink, food, and pharmaceutical industries since 1930. The globally operating company uses Autodesk Inventor from within an Autodesk PDM environment that is linked to SAP and that replicates the design data for the US-based offices.
Stork Food & Dairy has a long history in Amsterdam, one with very high peaks, and, unfortunately, here and there a deep trough. When, in 2007, profitability was so low that nearly draconian measures were required, the necessary managerial insight came from an unexpected source: standardization using 3D drawing software.Read more
Switching to configure to order
Stork Food & Dairy was used to always posting profitable figures for all five of their product groups. Due to the prevailing economic conditions, however, the prosperity came to an end, and Stork Food & Dairy were forced to rethink their entire business structure. They decided to focus on two development areas, namely sterilization and aseptic systems, instead of five product groups. Their newly-narrowed focus and the associated efficiency benefit also caused an irrevocable drastic change in the business process. The company changed from being an 'engineer to order' structure to a more 'configure to order' one.
Frank Mermans, engineering manager at Stork Food & Dairy, talks about the major operation. 'We encountered a number of major challenges,' comments Mermans. 'Without exception, these all had to do with streamlining the existing IT systems to immediately optimize the new "configure to order" structure. Step one was to combine all of the existing ERP systems back into one system. Step two was to streamline our CAD systems, where we were also working with several variants. And step three, naturally, was to optimize the interoperability of the ERP and CAD systems.'
Three step plan
Stork Food & Dairy decided on an ERP system from SAP. For the field of CAD, the company chose to work toward an Autodesk environment. Mermans had also looked at both high-end PLM systems and Autodesk's competitors.
'Without a doubt, they all have their pros and cons. But given many of our engineers' experiences with AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor, and the knowledge we stood to gain from the leading 3D design tools of the Autodesk packages, we opted for their solutions.
Furthermore, it was clear that overall management of the design process was fairly easy to control with Autodesk tools, which is obviously crucial for us.' Here, Mermans is referring to Cadac Organice Vault, developed by Cadac Group. Cadac Organice Vault is standardized PDM functionality combined with a method to quickly install Autodesk PDM software with one of the standard 'best practices' configurations. By combining best practices, Cadac ensured that Stork Food & Dairy did not have to reinvent the wheel when it came to PDM.More about Cadac Organice Vault
Replication server for the ‘export’
Before the SAP link was fully realized, Stork Food & Dairy had extended their new approach to the US as well. Therefore, not only did the Dutch branch of Stork benefit from the increased focus in Amsterdam, but the international market did as well.
Mermans says: 'Stork Food & Dairy has been a forerunner of its market for years, and with aseptic systems in particular, I can safely say that we're highly advanced. This is due to the fact that we have more than 40 years of experience, as well as our extremely broad approach. For example, we employ more than just "techies". We also work with dairy technologists and microbiologists to optimize every aspect of our product.'
Replication server for collaborating with America
Furthermore, according to Mermans, a great many Stork Food & Dairy customers are based in the Americas. 'The Americas represent a giant market for us, especially for our in-container sterilization systems. With our new IT structure, we have found a fine logistics solution; instead of producing the systems in Amsterdam before shipping them out, now, thanks to the new structure, we just produce them there.' In fact, Stork managed to achieve this in a very simple way. After setting up the link between ERP and CAD in Amsterdam, the company used a replication server to extend it to the US. 'The US-based engineering department focuses on projects in the field of in-container-sterilization. Engineers there can just pick up and continue processing the designs that have been draughted that morning in Amsterdam,' says Mermans. 'This approach saves Stork Food & Dairy considerable logistical and import costs and a lot of time.'
Challenges and opportunities
Clearly a company like Stork doesn't happen overnight; the possibilities and the impossibilities especially should be kept in mind. Mermans realized that, at a company like his, successfully switching from 'engineering' to 'configuring' would rest entirely on choosing the right IT. And this turned out to play a crucial role for the design software.
'In particular, the switch from 2D to 3D is drastic, but it is also one that immediately yields results,' says Mermans. The new design approach has almost single-handedly ensured that we are once more a stable organization operating in the black. 3D designs ensure that the design process speeds up, all possible information stays available, and costs go down; while at the same time, the required calm and order is created internally, if only by the fact that we're all in sync with each other.'
Stork Food & Dairy had, as befits an organization of its size, a large set of demands for its IT management environment. Therefore, the external help provided by Cadac Group consultancy was no luxury. At a minimum, Mermans desired a TIFF generator, multilingual applications, and certain PDM features, such as the ability to send manuals along with the design drawings. 'Cadac Group took on this challenge from the best practice approach which Cadac Organice Vault is based on,' said Bert Axles, Sales Director of Cadac Group MFG.
Mermans still has a few future wishes on his list. For example, he wants to link the engineering firms that support his organization with the environment set up by Stork Food & Dairy.
This would, for example, provide them with an easy way to outsource work to India and to keep a finger on the pulse 24/7. Then, if all goes as planned, Stork Food & Dairy will continue to work toward a PLM-like structure. An important goal for this project folder structure is to implement it in Autodesk PDM to manage the as-builts. At present, these as-builts are managed in SAP, which is a heavy administrative burden. The intention, therefore, is to allow all CAD users of SAP to communicate with logistics via PDM. On the one hand, this is because of the administrative burden; on the other hand, it is because PDM makes it possible to work with the spare parts manuals directly from within the application, which holds significant benefits for Stork Food & Dairy.
Complete solution for configure to order
Stork Food & Dairy next want to add price and inventory information to expand the exchange between CAD and the ERP in collaboration with Cadac Group, that have established a standard with Cadac Organice Vault, streamlined the process to configure to order. As Mermans proudly says, 'with this, we have a real success story.'
'We now have a comprehensive package in our hands with which we have pulled the Food & Dairy Division out of the red.' We have the projects under optimal control. Because we use Cadac Group's solution, we can offer our clients the customization they have come to expect from us. However, it is at a lower cost for Stork Food & Dairy with a better total overview of the projects.'More about Cadac Organice Vault