By sintesia
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  • 04 Dec

BLM Group Logo

Applying electronic kanban to suppliers helps reduce reminders and warehouse management times.

BLM Group S.p.a., an Italian company based in Como and Trento (Italy), produces machines for the manufacturing of metal tubes and sheets. With over 50 years of experience, the company is an industry leader, founded on continuous innovation and on a widespread presence in the main world marketplaces. The three production estates, BLM Spa, Adige Spa and Adige-sys Spa, count over 500 workers.

BLM Adige laser tube machine

In 2014 the company decided to switch to electronic kanban to improve the management of orders with suppliers. Having previously used manual kanban to manage the internal warehouse, BLM was familiar with the principles of kanban. Now 350 items have been added to the KanbanBOX system, all of them purchase orders. Over the next few months the kanban system will be extended to small hardware parts and the number of items will double. Currently 4 external suppliers are managed using kanban and the plan is to have 6 suppliers on board by the end of 2015.

Overall the software has brought benefits in materials management, reaching a reduction of 15% on management times. Also from the point of view of Supplier relations the initial goal has been reached and reminders have strongly been reduced to a minimum. Implementing the software was easy and fast.

We interviewed Antonio Allevi, Responsabile dei Montaggi Standard di BLM, to find out more about the company’s experience with our software.

Having heard about KanbanBOX from a specialized article, BLM Group decided to switch to an electronic system to manage its external purchases. The company chose to implement the software with a series of goals in mind such as ‘to improve the efficiency of the kanban for the warehouse, reduce the movement of information between company departments, and save time and gain more transparency’. The company wanted to reach a better reaction times from the supplier and to make the operators of the production lines more responsible for their work, as well as ‘reduce the times for the Purchase department since the kanban software issues only one yearly order’.

BLM Assembly Shopfloor

It is worth mentioning that compared to our other customer stories the average percentage reduction of inventory is not an indicator of the improvement brought by the software. ‘The average percentage reduction of inventory in our case wasn’t a priority since the materials we manage with this method is of class “C”. Therefore rather than the inventory itself, what was costly was managing the supplies between the various departments.’ Furthermore, when switching from manual to electronic kanban the company did not register a reduction of mistakes caused by the loss or mistakes made when handling the Kanban cards, because ‘for the kanban dealing with the warehouse we don’t take the card out of the box’ so ‘we didn’t benefit particular aspect’.

As far as reminders are concerned there was a great improvement thanks to the fact the process has become automatic. Antonio Allevi explained how ‘now the mechanism is automatic. A part from some mechanical errors, for instance when someone forgets to declare that the kanban is empty. In these cases we go to the internal warehouse and fill the kanban. There has been a general reduction of reminders’.

Over the past year the software was implemented in a gradual way and one supplier was added roughly every two months. We chose this approach following the company decision to be cautious, while from a technical point of view the software didn’t present any problems during setup. ‘In September-October we started with two suppliers, one of semi-finished products and one of standard parts. The first tasks were to upload data, visit suppliers, and carry out training within our company’.

Setting up the software was easy and fast. ‘KanbanBOX is very user friendly and this certainly is a plus’, says Antonio Allevi, adding that ‘data entry is simple’. The only obstacle for the company was the fact that ‘it is not interconnected with our own system so sometimes the data is doubled’. In future BLM would like to ‘be able to complete the set up of the connected interface between KanbanBOX and the company ERP’ (BLM is currently in the middle of changing its business management software, editor’s note). Another element that needed tackling and was easily solved was the declaration of empty kanbans: ‘We have four different production lines with four different members of personnel. Inevitably, in the beginning, during the training period, there were some errors’.

Overall, Antonio Allevi confirms that BLM is satisfied with the electronic kanban system offered by KanbanBOX as it makes Supply Management simpler and faster.


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