Modern production in versatile organisations

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You can find out how important flexibility is in production in the conversation with Peter Müller, Head of Group SCM and Operations.

Why does it make sense to use collaborative robots?

Previously, the focus was on large batch sizes, so all automation was geared towards that. Today, with more emphasis on flexibility and responding rapidly to market changes, the issue of how to increase efficiency needs to be approached in a different way. Collaborative robots help us in this regard by handling monotonous or physically demanding tasks and working alongside our production employees.

Which aspects of automation have the greatest potential?

Our equipment is state-of-the-art, well maintained and continually being further developed. Individual machines and logistics systems are becoming increasingly interlinked, thus making it easier to achieve efficiency increases. This also increases data transparency by, among other things, ensuring the traceability of products. It also poses ever greater challenges in terms of data support and, consequently, the abilities of employees and the organisation as a whole.

How important is flexibility in production?

To be able to meet our customers’ product needs as efficiently and effectively as possible, we use a lot of different technologies and equipment. The production requirements for a pot of face cream are different from those for a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of shampoo. The shape of the bottle or different labels create further challenges. This is why we have several mixing and filling machines at our locations, so that we can cover the whole spectrum.

Do synergies exist between the different production locations?

The variety of different equipment at the locations means we can react quickly to fluctuations in market demand. Should there be insufficient capacity at one location, the required volumes can be produced at another of the Group’s locations. This guarantees efficient business continuity management.

How do you handle mistakes?

Naturally, even we don’t manage to get everything right or processes are not always sufficiently effective. We see these instances as an incentive to learn something new every day and to improve ourselves constantly. To that end, we use our lean@mibelle programme, who helps us create more efficient and effective processes.