Shin-Etsu is a world market leader in PVC production, using an ingenious process to develop semi-finished components for their customers. From a quality management perspective, Shin-Etsu wanted to further enhance the efficiency in monitoring the production-process and therefore decided to migrate to a new supporting IT system.
In this reference case we gained insight from Albert Keukens, Sustainability Manager and Floor van Dijk, Industrial and Technical Service Specialist, about the new solution developed in collaboration with Referit and COERA.
Why did Shin-Etsu need IT assistance?
Shin-Etsu’s production process has many steps with strict quality controls, and in the past important registrations could only be done manually. For example, transferring finished material from one silo to another or initiating ship to customer is only allowed once a quality certificate is granted – which had to be registered by hand in a 20-year-old Microsoft Access/Oracle application. This tailor-made application, named LotAnalysis, was used throughout the manufacturing department and was extended throughout the years with lab analysis and many other features. Although the application was very much targeted towards Shin-Etsu’s use, it also became cumbersome in use through all the add-ons.
Albert: ‘it worked, nothing more nothing less but from a user experience perspective it was becoming far from ideal. Furthermore, we had a serious issue with maintenance and support and some important and necessary improvements needed to be implemented.’
To support an even more efficient and more logical flow for data processingduring the production process, Shin-Etsu felt the need to design and build a new state of the art and user-friendly IT-system.
Selection of IT-supplier
Before Shin-Etsu reached out to potential IT-suppliers, they clearly specified the goals for the new system and the requirements needed to reach those goals. According to Albert: ‘this approach helped us a lot in efficiently engaging with selected IT-suppliers ’.
Shin-Etsu considered three different IT-suppliers but had a clear preference for Referit, ‘because they thoroughly studied Shin-Etsu’s business and needs and were able to design and implement a tailor-made solution’, said Floor.
Based on all requirements Referit decided to collaborate with COERA, a long-time partner in software development, in delivering the new application.
The timelines of the project
In June 2020 the joint project team invested quite some time at the start of the project to further detail specifications and usability requirements which, as mentioned earlier were very important in a manufacturing environment. In October Shin-Etsu started with extensive acceptance testing. December was used for end-user training and the new application went successfully live in January 2021.
Efficiency through smart automation
The newly built application has a huge advantage above the old application, much more steps are smartly automated leaving no room for errors and making the overall process very efficient.
Albert: ‘In the past we needed to input data by hand multiple times. That’s not needed anymore! The new application also provides the possibility to have all departments using the application in parallel, something we couldn’t do in the past.’
Floor: ‘The new application is faster and through its improved usability gives a much better insight in important information. With the new application, our efficiency has improved enormously while also the workload of our people decreased resulting in an even better quality towards our customers.’
As the previous application was built in Microsoft Access with an Oracle database, Shin-Etsu had a strong preference to stay within the Microsoft tech-stack. Therefore, the new application was built on React SPA, .Net Core, Entity framework and MS SQL database. Due to Shin-Etsu’s security requirements the application is delivered using Azure DevOps to an on-premises server setup.
The frequent and goal-driven communication contributed a lot to the effectiveness and agility of the project team and the successful collaboration with Referit and COERA was highly appreciated by Shin-Etsu.
Referit and COERA
Andreea (Project lead, COERA): ‘Our collaboration with Referit worked very well. All challenges we encountered during the project were addressed with the goal in mind and always with a great positive vibe.’
Michel (Project lead, Referit): ‘COERA is a very trustworthy partner and we collaborated side by side with very a knowledgeable team of professionals.’