More than 20 years ago, GKN Automotive chose Prevas' internal logistics system LIPS. The background was that they wanted to secure the flow of components in the company's factory in Köping, where they manufacture transmissions for four-wheel drive vehicles. Since then, the system has been continuously developed, in line with ongoing development of GKN's operations.
New system for warehouse and production logistics
In the early 2000s, GKN identified the need to update its logistics system, as the existing one was considered too vulnerable and based on older hardware and operating systems. There was also no support function for either software or hardware. After a preliminary study, GKN engaged Prevas to introduce a new, customized system – Logistics In Production System, LIPS.
“A major advantage was that Prevas had been involved in the existing system and therefore had very good insight into how our business works,” says Mats Strömberg, who was the sub-project manager during the introduction of LIPS.
The first few years involved intensive work with investigating the needs of the company and users, and then to develop and install new systems for both warehouse and production logistics. This meant enterprise-oriented support for buffer and finished goods inventories, where key aspects were orderliness, balance security and traceability.
“We have extensive experience in this type of logistics solution and our staff has solid system and operational expertise,” says Robert Kristensson, senior software developer at Prevas and system manager for LIPS. “LIPS is a flexible, robust and scalable system that we’ve designed and adapted to the needs of the users. It feels great to work in such a trusting and long-term partnership as we have with GKN.”
Internal logistics solution with many possibilities
For production logistics, which includes internal transportation to ensure the supply of materials, the focus has been on ensuring order, the right amount at the right time and traceability at the package, batch and individual levels. LIPS main tasks at GKN have been to interface with automation equipment (such as cranes, robots, AGVs, manual trucks and track systems), to maintain full control of where goods are within the factory, to manage traceability and to handle communication with the business system.
“We have taken into account needs that did not exist when the system was implemented, and which may not even exist today, but that give us major opportunities for flexibility in the future,” says Susanne von Walden, who works with system support for LIPS at GKN. “Our contacts at Prevas have extensive knowledge and understanding of how our factory works and we've had incredibly well-functioning communication channels with them – there have never been any problems.”
Test environment for improvement work
Over the years, GKN's operations have evolved, and LIPS along with it. More than 300 adjustments have been made since its inception in 2002, both of an improvement nature and changes necessary to meet new business needs. Additions to the basic solution include greatly improved goods reception capacity via new lines and ID stations, automatic replenishment management, software upgrades and extended material supply to assembly utilizing picking concepts. GKN also has access to a test environment where changes can be simulated without risking negative effects in the factory.
“Our goal from the start was to have an open and flexible system so that we would never paint ourselves into a corner but can instead let developments in the factory drive changes,” says Mats Strömberg. “With LIPS, we’ve been able to shorten lead times while ensuring that the right things are in the right place at the right time.”
Sustainable production, internal logistics, logistics solution, LIPS, automation, digitalization
Åsa Sandberg, Prevas AB, e-mail