Creating Transparency

Since the implementation of PLANTA project at REIS ROBOTICS (since 2016 KUKA Industries) — a leading company for robot and system integration — the company has an enhanced overview of its projects, in particular with regard to scheduling. Resource planning and the utilization of departments has now been optimized, leading to significant improvements in scheduling reliability. Now scheduling conflicts can be easily visualized and corrective action taken. A positive side effect of the implementation has been the avoidance of double data collection concerning the projects .

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Since its founding in 1957, Kuka, a company for robot technology and system integration, has been gaining a lot of experience in the planning and realization of numerous turnkey automation systems. The company provides a comprehensive range of industrial robots (welding, casting, handling, or laser robots, etc.), peripheral modules, and services for the solution of automation tasks in all relevant areas of application. The product range includes, besides articulated robots, also linear robots, portal horizontal articulated robots, as well as special robots. Other product areas are spotting and deburring presses as well as deburring tools. Furthermore, REIS ROBOTICS registered a substantial growth, especially due to entering the new „photovoltaics“ market. Here, REIS ROBOTICS is one of the leading suppliers of automated whole plants for solar module production.

To get a better overview of the scheduling of its projects, the company has implemented the project management system by PLANTA. Before, there was no exact overview of dates, e.g. the general overview of all relevant delivery steps per construction phase. There was no structured project view across all levels. There was no current and steady overview of all project data for all project team members: persons responsible for the project, marketing, construction, and area of expertise.

Information on the project life cycle, e.g. problems which occurred and their solution, were not documented along with the project in view of future projects (lessons learned). Reasons for the problems with the resource overview could be attributed to the mode of operation which was employed before the implementation of the PLANTA system. Each department and each project manager was planning the use of resources independent of one another without any central documentation. In part, they still relied on whiteboards for planning. Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Project, which were used on department level, are still used in individual cases.

Date overviews were not available. There were large amounts of mail traffic since each project member was entering his/her information on the project. Dates had to be requested from the persons responsible. The actual planning of a resource could only be established by consultation. A consistent flow of information was not given. Large parts of the header information on the project had to be communicated in this manner. The communication on project matters was quite time consuming.

PLANTA consultants and an internal team at Kuka (a multi-project manager, a controller, two project managers) defined goals and developed solutions in close cooperation with the specialist departments. The components which were implemented are PLANTA project and PLANTA Customizer. Since 2002, the system is employed in productive operation at the company’s headquarters in Obernburg and at its subsidiary in Czech Republic. The connection is established via Citrix. At first the software was tested with smaller modules in some company areas (management, project management). The goals linked to the software implementation were defined as follows:

  • Improve adherence to schedules. Detect date delays prematurely in the future.
  • Better overview of the entire project including dates, resource planning, and utilization of departments.
  • All project relevant information should be stored centrally in the project. No more isolated solutions in the form of Excel lists for each department. Project notes are to be created on all project levels. The linkage of this information to all date relevant reports is to be enabled.
  • Sales analysis and statistics are to be created on a monthly basis and a comparison to the previous year in terms of deviation is to be done for each area. How did the PLANTA products win them over:
  • Adjustment to individual requirements
  • Integration of information from different software systems (CRM, ERP) employed in the company via views or by import of data
  • Fast implementation
  • License policy

The PLANTA system is used in the company areas of project management, work planning, controlling, dispatch, engineering, construction, layout (resource planning), management, customer care. It furthermore serves as an info point for the entire company.

Conclusion and Benefits
The implementation of the PLANTA system met KUKA’s requirements with regard to project management. There is no double data entry of project information, since everything has to be entered only once (resources and project information). The linkage of detailed project information with all date relevant reports provides good overviews. The detection of date conflicts helps to identify such conflicts upfront and enables a timely introduction of countermeasures. The representation and clarity of dates was improved. Resource planning is done very efficiently and can be looked at by any employee at any time. The delivery reliability was increased. It is particularly important that planning can be carried out reliably for the long term, also for projects with a runtime of several years. Jürgen Labod, system and application administrator PMS, Reis GmbH & Co. engineering works:

„The implementation of PLANTA project finally provided all employees with a general overview of all project dates and resource planning. Dates for purchased parts – start and end of assembly – are scheduled smoothly. We are now able to identify possible conflicts like imminent difficulties of future schedules in time and to take counter-measures.“

Larger projects can be handled within the same time. Information becomes visible to all persons involved more quickly and communication across the departments has been facilitated.