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How Siegwerk is ‘INKing’ its Digital Strategy

Siegwerk is an international, market leading manufacturer of printing inks and coatings for packaging of any kind as well as magazines and catalogs. Headquartered near Cologne, Germany, it has more than 5000 employees spread across 30 countries who work across 60 global manufacturing sites.

The Siegwerk India Center of Excellence (COE) is located in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, and is the second largest Siegwerk site in the world with around 500 employees. The company’s product portfolio covers inks of various types like solvent-based inks, water-based inks, Tobacco inks and more. 

DynamicCIO.com spoke to Jatinder Bansal, CIO Asia at Siegwerk on how the company is working on multiple digitalization projects in different countries supported by its global leadership.

At Siegwerk, the IT and business teams have a strong focus to bring in global digital transformation for business processes along the value chain, including digitalization of processes flows with their suppliers and customers. For this purpose, they are looking at Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), SAP S/4 HANA, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Power Apps, Industry 4.0 (IIoT) to name a few. Excerpts:

DynamicCIO: How is Siegwerk driving new innovations and exploiting new age digital technologies to strengthen its operations?

Jatinder Bansal(JB): We defined our digital transformation journey by setting up a global cross functional task force to conduct series of pre-studies. The objective was to identify potential opportunities across the value chain that included Finance & Controlling, Order to Cash, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Operations and Product Lifecycle Management.

The teams that were involved in the pre-studies listed key potential process areas that could be digitalised. Further detailed solution design workshops were conducted to arrive at the possible techno functional solutions that we wanted to implement. We worked on required Opex and Capex budgets for every digitalization project and finally moved from a huge grey to lot more black and white which was important to start the implementation process.

The strategy was always to start with small pilot implementations, and look at the business benefits from these pilots and then take a ‘big-bang’ approach.

DynamicCIO: Can you elaborate on some of the digital projects implemented at Siegwerk and how is it benefiting the business?

(JB): Few examples of digital initiatives we have already implemented are around:

Shopfloor Digitalization – During pre-study we identified that big percentage of FG (???) quality issues were result of wrongly dosed materials or wrongly dosed material quantities during the first manufacturing process step i.e. weighing scale.

We implemented SAP MII along with a MES system which enabled movement of process orders from SAP to a tablet connected with weighing scales on the shopfloor. Shopfloor workers now have to select the material required by scanning the material bar code via scanner (scanner is connected to the tablet and will trigger an alarm in case wrong material is selected). The worker can now dose the required material quantity in the vessel on the weighing scale and in case material quantity is not in defined tolerance limit system, it will automatically identify the issue and block the order.

With this automation the material consumption and milestone postings were enabled to automatically flow to SAP on real time basis. With this we saw noticeable improvement in first time good rate, Rework Cost, Rejection cost, Quality control cost, Efficiency improvement etc.  

Order to Cash – We are bringing our customers on a digital ordering platform developed on SAP Hybris where in customers are enabled to order online 24*7 without any dependency on Siegwerk’s sales team. Customers can also track material shipment status real time via track and trace functionality. This helped us in streamlining the order intake process.

Finance and Controlling: We implemented SAP VIM/Open text to automate Accounts Payable process to reduce effort towards processing vendor invoices and also improving process efficiencies. Now incoming invoices are automatically read via OCR engine and in case of any missing prerequisites.

Similarly, we have implemented multiple process automation in other areas like Order to Cash, Product life cycle management, Supply chain management etc.

DynamicCIO: How are you using robotics/AI/ ML in your production environment? What have been the benefits and what are your future plans in using these technologies?

(JB): We have stared leveraging Robotics (Microsoft Power Automate) for some process automations that are primarily pre and post SAP/ERP steps.

Business data is set up to flow between SAP and MS Power Apps / Power Automate to achieve desired process automation which otherwise is extremely complex to achieve in the SAP / ERP system. We are leveraging low code / no code feature of Power Apps platform to optimise automation scenarios and create a viable business case for the organization in the areas of credit block / unblock process, adhoc vendor payments requests, inter company transactions etc.

We are also exploring AI / ML for other areas like Accounts Receivables. Once we connect all our shopfloor machines in different countries, we would want to bring all real time machine data in a central data lake which will help us compare machine performance in different plants or countries. The AI -ML engine will be able to recommend what the shop floor teams in high performing plants or countries are doing differently, leading to higher efficiency and performance.

DynamicCIO: Cloud is allowing companies to reengineer their back-end architectures and put them in virtual environments where they can be accessed remotely. How have you been looking at the cloud model?

(JB): Yes, we are already adopting cloud in a big way and our global strategy is to partner with Microsoft for their Azure Cloud services.  We are also in the process of adopting many SAAS solutions for multiple digitalization initiatives. This includes:

  • Faster on boarding as well as Offboarding
  • Minimum CAPEX investment
  • Possible and easy scale up and scale down of IT infrastructure
  • More reliable with ease of maintenance

It has been a challenge though moving from On Premises to Cloud infrastructure:

Biggest challenge is reskilling existing IT Infrastructure team or on boarding new members with required skills which are a must for cloud infrastructure adoption. Another aspect is to ensure that all cloud contracts are drafted to our interest and there is a continuous monitoring for service delivery and improvements

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