A crystal-clear view of the supply chain

06.01.2020 by Daniel Kunz
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GlasGo colors up to 200,000 pieces of glass each day. But if these are not delivered on time and in perfect condition, the production line comes to a standstill. Discover how GlasGo is tackling this challenge with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cocktail glasses with a turquoise blue rim, tumblers in moss green or water glasses in bright pink: GlasGo lacquers up to 200,000 glasses of all kinds each day for customers from around the world. The medium-sized company from Oberlahr in Germany’s Westerwald region does not store most of the glasses on its premises. Trucks are constantly delivering different batches of glass directly to the company. Depending on the specifics of an order, GlasGo will completely change its production: The spraying machines are filled with new paint, the assembly line is adjusted for the expected number of glasses and the kilns are emptied. But if the glasses aren’t delivered on time, production comes to a standstill. This might not be a daily occurrence, but it’s still a regular challenge for the company.

Millions in Losses

Of course, production stoppages and long lead times caused by late deliveries isn’t a problem for just the German glass finisher. Other sectors, such as the automotive or construction industries, also suffer losses for similar reasons. According to the study "Supply Chain Risk Management – Challenges and the Status Quo" by the BME German Association for Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics, every fifth interruption in the supply chain has financial consequences of up to €1 million.

Man dries glass with a towel


 

Seamless Production Thanks to IoT

Smart IoT solutions help prevent unexpected interruptions to the supply chain. They also support logistics divisions while tracking the performance of a company fleet in order to quickly detect any delay. Employees at headquarters have a real-time view of their vehicles without having to call the drivers constantly. The logistics staff also immediately notice when there are any slowdowns, so they can inform customers right away. Once the employees at GlasGo know a delivery is delayed, they can plan the restructuring of the entire plant more effectively. In addition to the exact location, tracking solutions such as Drive and Track from T-Systems also record fuel consumption, send an immediate alert in the event of an accident or theft and use engine data to provide early notification when individual vehicles require maintenance.

Another IoT solution for transparent logistics is an intelligent tracker that is attached directly to goods. Sensors in the trackers not only report the current location of the goods during transport, but also if there are vibrations or if the ambient temperature falls below or exceeds a certain threshold. Solutions such as the Low Cost Tracker from T-Systems have a long battery life, are cost-effective and are therefore worthwhile even for single trips. GlasGo and T-Systems are currently testing an appropriate solution. When the painted glass leaves the facility in the future, the company will always know the current location and condition of the product.

Networked Kilns Speed Production

This is not the first time that T-Systems and the glass experts from Rhineland-Palatinate have worked together: GlasGo has been using the Internet of Things to network its kilns for around a year now. Up to ten sensors in the furnaces record the inside temperature every ten seconds and send the results to the IoT Cloud at T-Systems. An app processes the data and immediately reports fluctuations in temperature. "The lacquer has to be bonded to the glass in the oven within a defined temperature range around 180 degrees Celsius. If the temperature falls below a lower limit or exceeds the maximum temperature, quality suffers. Or even worse: we can throw away an entire batch," says Managing Director Hans-Jürgen Hirsch. In addition, the app reports promptly when a furnace fails. Another advantage: If the kilns have not yet been started up at a certain time, Hirsch is informed directly via the app, eliminating the need for his morning check-in call to the factory.

Hans-Jürgen Hirsch is always on the lookout for digital technologies that will help move his company forward. "We are currently successfully testing an IoT tracking solution with T-Systems. I am convinced that this solution will enable us to position ourselves even better for the future and secure significant competitive advantages," says Hirsch. Because, as he’s aware: "The competition never sleeps."

IoT: Benefits for Manufacturing and Logistics

In manufacturing and logistics, IoT technology focuses on the networking of machines and production facilities, as well as vehicles that transport a company’s products. Firms want to use IoT data to determine information such as temperature, humidity, filling levels, location or vibration levels in real-time. Sensors in the trackers send their results to a cloud, where the data is then digitally processed. The analysis of the sensor data can help companies speed up processes in production and logistics: Delivery routes are optimized, defective equipment is detected early on and transport can be accelerated. But it’s not just companies from the transport and production sectors benefiting from IoT. The interest in this technology is rapidly piquing interest across all industries.


 

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Daniel Kunz
Daniel Kunz

Expert Digital Marketing

Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.