Semcoglas on an innovative journey with A+W Software

More than nine million square meters of safety and performance insulating glass leave Semcoglas’ 19 sites every year. This makes the company group headquartered in Westerstede one of Germany’s leading flat glass finishers. With the investment in the Euroglas float factory in Magdeburg/Osterweddingen, the constant supply of high-quality flat glass is ensured. In 2020, despite the restrictions linked to the pandemic, sales of 260 million euros were recorded. For 2021, Semcoglas forecasts an increase in sales of more than 4% and a growth of 7% in the production of insulating glass. Besides Germany, the Benelux countries are an important target market.

However, great results don’t come from size alone. Technological leadership, absolute customer orientation and the ability to react at any time to new trends and changes in the market are the most important drivers of economic success. One of the biggest challenges for Semcoglas is currently the complete digitization of all sites and areas of the company. This is the only way to increase performance and efficiency, so that in the future Semcoglas can serve its customers with the best on-time delivery and the best product quality at fair prices.

On the way to Industry 4.0

Semcoglas’ scanning partner is software company A+W, which has worked with the Semco Group for decades. By 2023, all 19 Semco sites will be equipped with A+W Business and A+W Production industry solutions, including exciting new developments. For product setup and order fulfillment, Semco relies on online ordering with the A+W iQuote online store, as it speeds up business processes for the customer and Semco, eliminates time-consuming entry processes, and enables digital processing of order data via the EDI interface. With such intelligent solutions, Semcoglas will achieve a much higher degree of automation, even greater process stability in its business and production-technical areas and increased efficiency through intelligent networking of the entire production group. businesses.

The future has begun

At the beginning of 2019, the project teams from Semcoglas and A+W met during the first workshops in order to launch the project, called Momentum. In the meantime, the new software has been successfully deployed in several factories of the group and we are working hard on its implementation. Some factories still work with previous versions of the current A+W software; in others, old third-party software had to be replaced with new systems. “But nowhere”, says Semcoglas project manager Thomas Graf, “were there serious production problems after the changeover”.

The focus is on the software, but of course there is more. System software and technology must be networked to form highly functional production environments; data must be transmitted to machines quickly and reliably via intelligent interfaces. Business processes will be radically changed, flows unified across the group and made more efficient.

Paper and production records are replaced by scanners and information kiosks. Processes such as internal orders, distribution of orders between factories and logistics planning will be reviewed so that the capacities of the entire Semco group are used to best effect. Therefore, with Momentum, customers will benefit even more from the strength of Semco’s network of experts.

A+W production terminal on an insulating glass line in the Westerstede factory: all essential information is displayed online and the current processing step is recorded online in the database - production is practically without paper
A+W production terminal on an insulating glass line in the Westerstede factory: all essential information is displayed online and the current processing step is recorded online in the database – production is practically without paper

The Semcoglas community: when will it finally be our turn?

What is particularly pleasing is that Semcoglas employees are integrated into the digitization process, recognizing the benefits and actively working to move the project forward. You can see the benefits in factories that have already been converted; we are not afraid of new structures and working methods. During the implementation of the project, knowledge was developed with “reference employees” in different factories. This knowledge was then made available to other factories in a targeted manner; that is, employees were flexibly deployed to other sites. Semcoglas thus benefits from significant synergies within the group and saves time and money.

“In the meantime,” says Michel Schüller, Managing Director of Business Development and IT, “the Semco and A+W project teams have grown together to form a team that works effectively towards the goals that she has set herself”. Schüller continues: “Thanks to our close relationship and the excellent performance of A+W, we feel that we are well taken care of, even if things were a bit difficult at the beginning. But that’s probably how things always go in a project of this size.

LAMI production in Nordhorn: the logistics of the Semcoglas Group site make it possible to supply insulating glass factories with safety glass without a lot of travel
LAMI production in Nordhorn: the logistics of the Semcoglas Group site make it possible to supply insulating glass factories with safety glass without a lot of travel

Fully digital

Semcoglas management makes a clear distinction between process digitization objectives and the digital transformation of the group of companies, which includes the entire Semcoglas ecosystem and will make a significant contribution to recognizing and meeting the demands of customers even earlier in rapidly changing markets.

The biggest challenge, according to Michel Schüller, are the people themselves. “The way of thinking throughout the company,” says Schüller, “is becoming more digital, the relationship with customers and suppliers more transparent. This holistic approach will strengthen our business partners and ensure the long-term success of Semcoglas in the market”.

It also means that IT technology is embedded at the executive level of the business and helps shape the overall direction of the business. The goal is an even better digital service culture, with which Semcoglas can set itself apart from its competitors and continue to grow successfully.

Order entry with A+W Business.  Orders received here via the A+W iQuote webshop are forwarded directly to production via the ERP system.
Order entry with A+W Business. Orders received here via the A+W iQuote webshop are forwarded directly to production via the ERP system.
Momentum's core team – left to right: Thomas Graf, Semco project manager;  Norbert Gardemann, A+W project manager;  Heiko Schuh, A+W Clarity Director Sales Central Europe;  Marcus Lampen, Semco IT Manager
Momentum’s core team – left to right: Thomas Graf, Semco project manager; Norbert Gardemann, A+W project manager; Heiko Schuh, A+W Clarity Director Sales Central Europe; Marcus Lampen, Semco IT Manager

Digital Dispatch Organization

When an employee assembles a delivery in shipment at the factory in Westerstede, he does not need any lists or other papers – apart from the barcode label, the paper becomes an endangered species in production and shipping at Semco. Each ready-to-ship package is reserved for a unique storage location upon receipt in the high-bay smart warehouse with a simple barcode scan. This is done with the A+W Smart Companion app, which uses smart devices such as handy Zebra scanners instead of traditional industrial scanners and scans each rack into the production database.

Digital Dispatch Organization

Shipping information is made available to factories through the A+W production terminal. Even in the forklift, the employee sees at a glance which rack needs to be loaded and on which truck. Finding fixtures and racks and other non-value-creating work in shipping is now a thing of the past at Semco in Westerstede. Shipping processes are more efficient and faster, and on-time delivery is maximized.

Digital Dispatch Organization

And what if something breaks? Broken and defective windows are scanned into the breakage pool with the Smart Companion A+W and redone with the highest priority. Usually it is possible to deliver the unit in question with the same delivery or at least with the next one.

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