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How to transform the factory by enhancing its critical systems

Case in brief

Our client has been at the forefront of the automotive parts industry since nearly a century ago. They provide high end, tailor-made components for some of the biggest car brands like BMW, Volkswagen and Ford.

Recently the company has adopted a commercially off-the-shelf ERP system with the goal to streamline all factory processes. But the system was still missing two critical modules, namely machine maintenance and supplier quality assurance.

Olympia Tech was requested to help design, develop and implement a bespoke software solution to effectively address the gaps.
Developed seamless ERP extensions in just 4.5 months
Tech stack: .NET/C# | Angular | PostgreSQL
6 development team members incl. Project lead and QA

Project background

Comprehensive ERP systems are a necessity for factories to ensure smooth operations, supporting personnel on the factory floor and providing key insights to the operators. According to a study by management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), top-performing factories can produce 20-50% more cost-effectively than their counterparts.

Our client was facing challenging closing the efficiency gap in machine maintenance and quality assurance of incoming goods. Machine maintenance plans ensure smooth operations of all machinery, avoiding unplanned maintenance slots that hamper production lines. While quality assurance of incoming goods help operators gain insights into structurally failing parts and defects that require attention.
According to Boston Consulting Group, top-performing factories produce 20-50% more cost-effectively than their counterparts. Factories must keep a strong focus on continuously streamline operations to stay competitive
The challenge was to create two modules that would seamlessly integrate with a proprietary ERP system. Providing a familiar user experience that ensured high adoption and a streamlined process.
The maintenance module would function like a Kanban system. Allowing to view all machine work orders, scheduling of maintenance, tracking statuses and log any issues that may arise in one central place.
The quality control module would help to automate registration of incoming goods. Converting delivery notes into quality control orders, based on pre-set templates. This would enable the reporting of faulty goods.
App built for iPhone®
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Technology stack

Reliable and mature framework for single-page apps, with a large eco-system of extensions
Known for performance, security, modularity and lightweight characteristics
Chosen for its permissive open-source license, costs, robustness and eco-system

Our approach

Bringing in domain expertise
We decided to bring in a team of domain experts, with specific expertise on ERP systems in Automotive companies. Domain experts can provide insights from their previous experience, and understand the dynamics, complexities and pitfalls of these assignments - and how to avoid them if possible

Requirement workshops
By early-on introducing requirement workshops with client stakeholders, we were able to identify the main goals and objectives for the project. The workshops allowed us to deepen the understanding, and brainstorm about the solution direction. By making this a collaborative session, we were able to get early alignment - of which the value must not be underestimated. This was critical to the success of the project

Applying an Agile project methodology
By introducing bi-weekly sprints, we iteratively built the product in stages - while introducing the opportunity to inspect, adapt and streamline the development process. Our client stakeholders did not only received demos, but also had the opportunity to inspect deliverables and steer our team in the right direction by providing useful insights.

Selecting suitable technology stack
As with any software development project, we thought carefully about which tech stack would work best to achieve our goal. There were three main aspects critical for the success of this project: Performance, Costs and Maintenance/longevity.

As a result, we decided to go for an Angular front-end and .NET/C# back-end, complimented with a PostgreSQL database.

We did consider MS SQL for the database, consider the fact that it integrates well with .NET. However, after reviewing the license fees for the Enterprise edition - compared to a free open-source, full featured contender in Postgres, we decided to opt for the latter without regrets.

Rigorous test approach
Ensuring the software was ready for use, bug-free and intuitive, we added a full-time QA/Tester to the team. This allowed us to get a different perspective on the software deliverables, critically reviewing what has been built.

The outcome we achieved

The new software solutions already had a profound impact on the client's operations within just a few months.

The maintenance system increased efficiency by 30% by streamlining work orders and maintenance planning. And the supplier quality control system automated and improved the accuracy of the quality grading process, leading to a 20% reduction in faulty goods.
Increased efficiency
Reduction faulty goods
Easy of use
Beyond the numbers, the client also expressed high satisfaction with the ease of use and functionality of the solutions. The software solutions not only addressed the initial challenges but also improved the overall efficiency and productivity of their operations.

We have had a lot of learnings during this project. One of them - highlighting again - that off-the-shelf ERP solutions have difficulties fully meeting client demands. Especially in highly-specialised industries, a different approach is often needed.

Key takeaways

Introduce domain experts to accelerate development and avoid critical pitfalls
Select a suitable technology stack based on your key constraints
Collaborate closely with the client, and allow for inspect & adapt
In conclusion, this project showcases the benefits of digital transformation and the value of custom software solutions when a comprehensive approach is needed. It reaffirms our commitment to providing clients with bespoke solutions that address their unique needs, while delivering measurable improvements in efficiency and productivity.

This was one of the many projects we've tackled with enthusiasm this year. We eagerly anticipate any questions you may have concerning this project or any other project. If you wish to embark on a project with us, please don't hesitate to reach out. Your success is our mission, and we're ready to make your vision a reality.

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