Automotive supplier manages large-scale projects:
BIA Group plans and coordinates the modification and new construction of production facilities
While planning a large-scale project, BIA Group uses InLoox to get an overview for coordinating the schedules of all sections necessary reconstruction and new construction activities. Whether inside or outside, shiny or matt, for functional or decorative purposes: Chromed components have been used in automobiles for a long time to make a difference with their grafting. BIA Group supplies automotive customers with refined, structurally und technically sophisticated components for interiors and exteriors. The company produces at its headquarters in Solingen as well as in several factories worldwide.
On the way to environmentally friendly production processes
Electroplating is a complex production process for surface finishing that is also subject to strict legal requirements. Now that production processes and design have become strategic competitive factors in the automotive industry, environmental protection is becoming increasingly important. For example, the EU regulation REACh (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) requires that only alternative chromium(III) processes will be allowed in the future. BIA has set itself the goal of ensuring that its facilities meet the latest standards and, of course, comply with all environmental regulations. In addition, BIA's corporate philosophy is to continuously optimize its own processes and procedures. In order to proactively comply with REACh, BIA Group is currently retrofitting its existing chrome production facilities in Germany.
In 2020, BIA started with the most complex task: the modification and new construction of the oldest existing plant at the headquarters in Solingen. The aim is to complete this by 2022. This will be followed by three more plants. "Such a major project involves many parties and crafts, all of which have to be included: from the ground to the roof, steel construction and fire protection to wastewater treatment, everything has to be traceable. Large construction measures have to be timed. With the Excel spreadsheets we used to work with, it would have been difficult to always include all the people involved in the same way, partly because many meetings were only slightly digitized," says Johannes Knott, describing the initial situation. Knott is jointly responsible for the coordination of this major project at BIA, initially as a trainee in the international production management department, and now as a operating engineer.
Transparent project planning
In 2020, BIA had decided to use InLoox as project management solution in order to fulfill three requirements: In terms of the many interfaces in the major projects, clearer planning is needed. Several people should be able to access the information at the same time, with the data integrated in a central location. The solution was chosen by BIA because it is well integrated into the daily work with Outlook, the project data can be retrieved from it centrally, and it is also more cost-effective compared to others, such as MS-Project.
"The unique feature of our solution is the tracking and coordination of large projects. In doing so, we have to map the simultaneous interaction of many different departments and areas," says Knott. For this purpose, a weekly meeting is scheduled to prepare the information from the subprojects. The data for the respective disciplines is stored in the subprojects. The subproject managers have to have everything on their screens. Whereas it used to be difficult to gather information, questions can now be answered easily: Who does what? Or: Where do I get what from whom? With the software, they can collect project data in a structured way, manage tasks more effectively and better identify interfaces.
A total of 28 managers and project members at BIA use the project management solution. In addition to the four managing directors, these include those responsible for operations management, maintenance and building management, IT development, and specialist departments such as electroplating, injection molding, and final testing. Since 2021, this has also included three people at the new site in Mexico.
"Everyone has the plan"
"In InLoox, we can consider how to implement the construction measures in terms of time: By recording the dates from the individual areas and coordinating them with the respective trades, as well as coordinating them with suppliers," says Knott. The dates entered by the respective trades - for example, floor, roof, steel construction - form the basis for showing the status of the project. All details from the subprojects are published in an overall plan. For example, the complex wastewater treatment, the IT connection or, for example, the fire protection, which is divided into the tasks of smoke extraction, sprinkler systems and alarm systems. "Everyone can access the plan. Since all dates are documented, not everyone involved needs to be on site. " says Knott. However, according to Knott, the project matrix has grown to a size that makes it impossible to print out the overall plan legibly, even on a large-format DIN/A0 printer. The company is still looking for an optimal presentation option to show the complex overall project.
The advantages of the solution for the BIA Group are essentially the gain in transparency, the central tracking of all collected information in one place, the interface management and the temporal integration of all construction measures. Management can get an immediate overview. "We have been planning the conversion and new construction for years. Therefore, it would always be critical if production were to come to a standstill," says Knott.
Finally, after the conversion and new construction of the first plant is completed in April 2022, further conversion projects are to follow at three other plants. It is also planned to include international projects in Mexico, China and Slovakia.
- "Without InLoox, it would be more difficult to get everyone on board.“
- "What makes our solution special is the tracking and coordination of large projects.“
Johannes Knott, International Production Management | BIA Group
At automotive supplier BIA, the EU REACh regulation requires a conversion of the electroplating plants. In 2020, BIA began retrofitting and converting the oldest existing plant. In the process, those responsible struggled with many meetings with a low level of digitalization and numerous Excel spreadsheets. In addition, it was difficult to always involve all people in the same way.
To ensure that the large projects with many participants and trades can be planned clearly, BIA decided to use the project management software InLoox PM with its own local database. This enables integration at a central location as well as simultaneous access to the information by several people.
Today, the more structured collection of project data and better task management are the most important benefits. This creates transparency and enables interface management as well as the temporal integration of all construction projects.