If you ask CURA Glass Managing Director Marijn van den Ingh what kind of company CURA Glas really is, he will answer without hesitation: "First and foremost, we're a high-performance international LSG manufacturer."
This answer may initially surprise people, and it would have been different just a few years ago. But anyone who has followed the reorganization and consistent reorientation of this Dutch flat glass specialist in the last five years knows that the CURA Glass's core business has shifted significantly: a classic glass wholesaler has become a highly innovative TG production, glass trade, and processing specialist.
Of course the previous years' investments also strengthen the company's trade business massively, in particular thanks to deep-reaching software innovations in the areas of logistics, capacity planning, sales, and storage.
However, the focal point of the innovations is clearly on the LSG production and processing sector, and obviously this makes sense: according to the Bundesverband Flachglas [German Flat Glass Association] there was a 4.3% increase in LSG production in Germany, CURA Glass's core market, in 2017; for 2018, the BFF anticipates a 4.9% increase. The figures for the rest of Europe are similar.
The integration of a fully automatic Benteler Jumbo LSG production line has given CURA Glass enormous delivery capacity: from the 600 glass types stored, combined with 30 different foils, any desired glass structure can be created (in theory, there are tens of millions of combinations).
1000 sq meters of glass can be cut and processed each day. The prerequisite for this is sophisticated cutting and grinding technology from Hegla, Bovone, and Benteler – from the automatic jumbo compact storage with 60 storage spaces and portal feeding to fast cutting systems with LSG ReMaster, CNC grinding machines, and SortJet – nothing required to supply CURA customers quickly, reliably and with the highest quality is lacking. The entire production is controlled reliably with A+W production and optimization software.
The handling of this enormous variety of glass has blazed completely new trails in production logistics. This is how CURA produces LSG jumbos and then processes them to create a complex portfolio of LSG cut sizes.
The A+W-controlled SortJet helps with this: an idiosyncratic organizational structure, which presented challenging tasks for the responsible A+W project team. With the A+W sorter control, the LSG jumbos are made available to the Benteler CNC grinding machine in the desired sequence just in time. After the required processings, they are ready for delivery, however in case of breakage they can be reproduced quickly and frequently delivered with the same order. This is hardly possible with purchased lites and allows CURA Glass to achieve peak performance in the LSG business.
After production was equipped throughout with A+W production and optimization software, the commercial software A+W Business was introduced in Purchasing, Sales, and in the warehouse. This allowed the whole company to make an enormous innovative leap: CURA Glass imports glass from around the world and always has 600,000 sq m of glass on hand. All glass types and all the accessories, suppliers, conditions, etc. have now been entered into A+W Business and allow wide-ranging automation of input and output processes and the extremely demanding warehousing.
Here, the integrated plant data collection helps make the company increasingly paperless: if a new delivery arrives, the items are booked to a defined storage space via barcode reading, regardless of whether the storage space is a box, a rack or a glass package. While papers and folders are now rare, the barcode label is omnipresent. Once read in, the storage position of each lite is known everywhere in the system and the lite can be located easily.
Of course the status of deliveries and lites can also be registered via barcode – for example any bad/broken lites, wrong color or quantity, etc. Sales is in a position to provide customers with information about order progress at all times since the current status is entered and reported back to the commercial system at each processing station via barcode reading.
"Even at the project start it was clear to us," explains Managing Director Marijn van den Ingh, "that we could only control such completely new processes with intelligently networked software. As with our machine park, the best was only just good enough here. However in addition to the quality of the software," explains Marijn further, "the implementation and maintenance of such a system requires a strong, steady partner with experienced specialists who can react quickly and solve even difficult problems reliably. This is where our trust in A+W paid off completely. A+W software is a strong product, behind which there is a strong, innovative company. This is why we have satisfied customers and low complaint rates."
Twenty-two special yellow and blue trucks with custom-tailored equipment are on the road across Europe for CURA Glass every day. They transport lites in containers and stacks, in boxes and on racks, as base glass or jumbo.
CURA Glass's logistics specialists frequently work with mixed loads with respect to dimensions, packaging types, and glass types. The most efficient and cost-effective control of the the company's fleet requires a lot of experience, flexibility, and intelligence.
The good news: even logistics can be automated!
The tool of choice for CURA Glass is the A+W Logistics Optimizer. This intelligent, multi-talented software creates and optimizes the shortest and most cost-effective routes – taking into account the possibilities of the CURA fleet.
Taking into consideration route limitations (e.g. bridge height or permissible vehicle weight) and traffic information, the system determines the optimal route with the optimal sequence of delivery points. Deviating delivery addresses can also be considered, as can specific time and date promises made to CURA Glass customers. The weight to be delivered is distributed across the trucks so that each delivery station must be visited just once – and so the most appropriate truck is always selected for the route. Required unloading technologies such as on-board cranes are also considered.
However, the A+W Logistics Optimizer supports not just route planning and evaluation, it also assists you with delivery itself. This is how, on the one hand, CURA Glass can export the route data to the navigation system; on the other hand, the driver can use a delivery app on a smartphone to book the delivery and report it back to the ERP system A+W Business. There, the dispatch manager can monitor the delivery of the route online and react directly to reports such as "Sheet 0815 broken."
This is how CURA Glass frequently saves several days and in many cases can deliver the reproduced lite the very next working day. The driver also has the opportunity to photograph the delivery situation with a smartphone (where? in what condition?); the picture remains in the system and serves as additional proof of proper delivery, if necessary deviating delivery point and irregularities such as damage, etc.
When the customer confirms correct delivery, invoicing can be initiated immediately – and so more time and money is saved. The system also supports the delivery and pickup of additional racks and it can thus be integrated completely into route optimization.