At WestRock, it’s all about digital transformation
WestRock APS Optimizes
its Engineering Process
with Agni Link by Connecting
IFS and Autodesk Applications
The Automatic Packaging Systems group (APS) of WestRock is a division of one of the world’s largest paper and packaging companies offering solutions for consumer and corrugated markets. APS’ four production facilities are based in the USA, counting over 400 employees. From a single case erector to a fully integrated line design, APS offers customized configurations across a wide range of markets for all types of products.
IMPROVED PRODUCTIVITY WITH IFS APPLICATIONS AND ELMO SOLUTIONS
WestRock’s APS manufacturing plants are based in four locations across the United States and count 400 employees. While IFS Applications 10 provides APS with a solid backbone for its ERP infrastructure, the integration of CAD/PDM/PLM applications using different data formats represented a particular challenge.
Elmo Solutions and its Agni Link connector provided the solution by offering APS a bidirectional connector allowing integrated powerful data flows and transformation between IFS Applications with Autodesk CAD/PDM/PLM applications.
INCREASED DEMAND FOR CUSTOMIZED PRODUCTS REQUIRED INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS
“The increased global demand for new packaging solutions due to sky-rocketing e-commerce sales have driven innovation and the need for improving the integration of design and production departments”, explained Tom Graham, General Manager of WestRock APS group.” We wanted to completely suppress the manual entry of product data to remove errors and free up time. Agni Link solution allows the bidirectional automation and transformation of data flows between IFS Applications and Autodesk CAD/PDM/PLM applications, thus providing WestRock’s Automatic Packaging Systems group (APS) an optimized solution. The seamless data integration between the two application environments improved productivity and collaboration between design and production departments, sped up operations and lowered design and production costs regardless of production scale.”.
Elmo Solutions became the supplier of choice since its connector allows to remove time-consuming and error-prone manual imports and exports of data between the ERP and CAD environment, while dramatically reducing rework and materials scrap on the factory floor.”
“Elmo Solutions was the only provider that could demonstrate a working connector for the IFS ERP to all of WestRock’s engineering software, including Autodesk Vault and AutoCAD Electrical. In addition, Elmo Solutions showed in-depth experience with Autodesk Vault Professional applications that also needed to be connected to the IFS ERP Applications. It became the obvious choice since the connector allows to remove time-consuming and error-prone manual imports and exports of data between the ERP and CAD environment
20% IMPROVEMENT OF ENGINEERING CYCLE BY USING AGNI LINK WITH IFS APPLICATIONS
In the four WestRock APS plants, over 100 machines are built each year to satisfy the needs of their customers for individual packaging solutions. One machine typically contains between 1,200 and 1,400 parts that vary in size, dimensions and finish according to the customer specifications.
As a result, each of these machines has a different configuration requiring specific Bills of Material (BOM) and part lists that are created by the design department. In order to link the data to the IFS ERP system, data was manually exported and then reimported every time the production team had made changes to the design.
With the implementation of Agni Link, this process has evolved since automatic data transfer in both directions has completely suppressed manual entry of product data. “Another important advantage of using Agni Link is its powerful Bill of Materials (BoM) comparison capability,” continued Tom Graham. “Changes are tracked through the user dashboard, which provides colour-coded indicators for quick and efficient validation and correction of potential issues with data transfers between Autodesk applications and IFS ERP.”
Overall, WestRock APS realized a 20% improvement of its engineering cycle by using Agni Link’s connector for IFS Applications and CAD environments.
The implementation of Agni Link has resulted not only in improved data quality, leading to fewer reworks on the production side, but also permitted freeing up time of the design team for new design work, since manual data entry was not required anymore.
FAST AND EASY INTEGRATION MAKES USERS INDEPENDENT
WestRock APS has installed so far 28 licences of Agni Link in one of the four plants dedicated to machinery manufacturing for custom products. Elmo Solutions’ unique fixed-fee JumpStart Program covered all of the support services required during the implementation phase, namely recommendations on the best practices; deployment of the testing environment, training of administrators and end users as well as unit and integration testing. “The highlight of the integration process with IFS and CAD modules is the Agni Link Integration Builder, which allowed effortless integration with Autodesk Vault and AutoCAD Electrical.”
The integration of IFS and Autodesk data with Agni Link went so seamless, that minimal technical support was required during the implementation phase, neither from the APS in-house IT department nor from Elmo Solutions’ technical team.
THE FUTURE IS IN THE CLOUD
“We are currently analyzing the deployment of Agni Link in other WestRock APS plants, while at the same time, our IT professionals are evaluating future cloud technologies and its impact on Westrock’s overall IT strategy. IFS Cloud, the next generation of IFS software is a radical departure from the traditional architecture requiring new internal processes. But migrating to IFS Cloud should be a smooth ride for WestRock APS, as it is readily supported by the Agni Link ERP Connector for IFS Cloud.”
Asked about practical advice for selecting an IFS-CAD connector supplier, Mr. Graham continues: “All companies involved in custom production need a supplier for IFS ERP-CAD, Product Data Management (PDM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) connectors. I recommend to watch out for suppliers that can demonstrate bidirectional data exchanges (stay away from the import/export approach), data transformation capabilities and CAD/PDM/PLM vendor certifications. In order to remain independent from your internal IT department, it is important to evaluate build-in customization tools.
And, last not least, make sure that also your connector supplier has a migration path into the future. New applications such as PTC Windchill, Siemens Teamcenter and Dassault 3DExperience are emerging the in the CAD/PDM/PLM environment, and you want to make sure that these types of applications are covered. We were very satisfied that with Elmo Solutions, we could tick off all these points on our list.”
ABOUT WESTROCK APS
The Automatic Packaging Systems group (APS) of WestRock is a division of one of the worldwide largest paper and packaging companies offering solutions for consumer and corrugated markets. APS’ 4 production facilities are based in the USA, counting over 400 employees.
From a single case erector to a fully integrated line design, APS offers customized configurations across a wide range of markets for all types of products.
APS packaging machinery offerings include trusted products, services and systems that:
- Increase manufacturing efficiency
- Reduce labour and material costs
- Reduce product damage and waste
- Improve fiber utilization
- Get attention at retail and boost sales
- Meet recycling/sustainability expectations.
ABOUT ELMO SOLUTIONS
Established in 1979, Elmo Solutions is the technological leader in ERP-CAD/PDM/PLM data integration and certified partner of leading ERP providers such as Microsoft, IFS, Oracle, NetSuite, SAP and others, as well as principal CAD/PDM/PLM providers such as Autodesk, SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes, PTC, Siemens, EPLAN et Pulsonix. Elmo Solutions automates the connection between ERP and CAD environments, allowing seamless bidirectional data exchanges by removing tedious, error-prone manual tasks. Engineering throughput of ETO processes can be improved by up to 20% and costly errors on the factory floor are eliminated through improved data accuracy. Elmo Solution’s users are established in over 50 countries.
- Bidirectional data exchange suppresses manual data entry
- Powerful BOM and part comparisons
- 20% improvement of the engineering cycle of custom production
- User-friendly colour-coded dashboard for quick visualization of issues
- Solid in-depth expertise of IFS and CAD/PLM/PDM environments. (42 w)