Customer Case

Maxon Group uses Novacura Flow to improve the operational efficiency of its warehouse

Just as businesses rely on maxon to power essential tools and industrial applications, maxon relies on Novacura Flow to improve efficiency and visibility throughout its warehouse.

For the last 60 years, maxon Group has been a leading supplier in the DC motor industry. As a supplier of high-precision drive systems and a Swiss manufacturer with a manufacturing footprint in 9 countries and a distribution network in 40 countries, maxon sets the bar for quality and durability. Businesses turn to maxon when requirements for high-performing motors are high and compromises cannot afford to be made. As a result, maxon are relied on to drive NASA’s Mars rovers, to power insulin and surgical tools, and in other high-precision industrial applications. To improve visibility into where its products were in the manufacturing process, maxon was looking for a way to automate manual processes and improve efficiency throughout its warehouse.

Challenges

  • Cumbersome paper-based processes
  • Lack of product visibility in the warehouse
  • Out-of-the-box software capabilities not sufficient
  • Customizations took too long to implement
Maxon group office

Maxon was in the process of upgrading from IFS 7.5 to IFS 10 and was looking for ways to improve the overall efficiency of its operations.

Several of the processes within the warehouse were still handled by pen and paper. For each paper-based process, a person had to manually document the process, then another person would take the stack of papers and input the records into IFS. This not only caused inefficiencies that impacted productivity but also delayed real-time visibility into where products were in the warehouse.

Maxon was also using another 3rd party data collection software to integrate with IFS. The solution itself provided several benefits but lacked the flexibility needed to quickly adapt to change. Any modifications needed, often took months to implement, since maxon could not make any changes on their own.

“We had technology that we couldn´t manage by ourselves. For every change, we had to wait up to two months and now [with Novacura Flow] it´s simple and we can develop by ourselves. When we do need to make changes, we can fix them in one or two weeks at the most.”
René Blättler, Business Application Consultant, IT Department “Business Services and Process Design”

Solution

  • Digitalizing pen and paper processes
  • Product tracking throughout the warehouse
  • Seamless integration to IFS 10
  • Flexibility to customize on their own
Novacura flow used in maxon warehouse

Maxon evaluated different warehouse data collection solutions to handle its warehousing requirements. At the end Novacura Flow was ultimately selected due to the flexibility of its low-code platform including ease of use, connectivity to IFS and the ability to streamline other areas of its business.

Once Novacura was selected, maxon’s first step was to identify areas that could be automated. maxon reviewed its business processes, evaluated the new features of IFS 10 and carefully mapped out areas they could improve. The most obvious areas for improvement were those that were previously handled by pen and paper. Processes within the areas of internal logistics transport, label printing and count reports were all digitized.

The next step was to look at other business processes that could be made more efficient. New and improved business processes were mapped out for the areas of picking, shipping and warehouse logistics. Novacura Flow’s low-code platform was then used to quickly develop mobile applications, integrated with both IFS and the barcode scanners, to optimize the efficiency of its warehouse.

This solution empowered maxon to extend the robust power of IFS and it gave them the flexibility needed to quickly adapt to change.

“An advantage of Novacura Flow is that it is very closely connected to IFS Applications, so it works as an extension of IFS. To try to achieve the same processes in the old system we would have needed to do more engineering in the software by ourselves, so I think it´s much easier with Novacura.”  Sandra Portmann, Manager Global Logistics and Customs, Department “Global Logistics & Customs”

Results

  • Real-time visibility of where products are in the warehouse
  • Barcode printing directly from the shop floor
  • Improved overall efficiency throughout the warehouse
  • Process changes implemented in days, not months

Maxon Group purchased Novacura Flow in the middle of 2018 and was implemented at the beginning of 2019. Immediately upon the deployment of Novacura, maxon noticed improvements in areas of logistics, production and warehouse management for its 260 employees across its network of maxon production sites and subsidiaries.

Previously, it was hard to know the status of where products were in the warehouse. When a shop order was closed, a person had to physically deliver it to the logistics department and there was a lack of visibility into where the material was in the process. With Novacura Flow, the entire process is now digital and you can see where the materials are at all times. Time is no longer wasted trying to find products within the warehouse.

Maxon also leveraged integrated scanners to see efficiency gains in the areas of label printing, count reports and location accuracy. The old process required employees to log into IFS to print barcode labels. Now barcode labels can be printed directly from the scanner. Count reports that used to be managed by pen and paper can now be generated directly from the scanner. Warehouse workers can also scan a location and it will automatically show them what parts go in that location. All three areas have provided significant time savings and have eliminated the need for manual entry.

Other areas of improved efficiency were seen in areas of picking, shipping and warehouse logistics. maxon now has a picking app in production for configure-to-order that helps to manufacturer customer-specific configured motors. Shipping areas are now able to use handling units and can attach customer parts to handling units when they could not before. The logistics and warehouse team has also benefited from the ability to pick, pack, ship and invoice on the warehouse side.

One final benefit is the simplicity of working with multiple languages. It used to be a very cumbersome process to make updates in both English and German, but now they can use the same app.

Since Novacura Flow is intuitive and easy to use, maxon can incorporate changes in a matter of days, not months, and has been empowered to develop apps for more areas of its business. New apps have already been developed to handle picking supplier material, pick reserved customer orders and the latest solution allows printing of customer-specific reports.

“I really like Novacura Flow because of its flexibility. From a software engineering perspective, the flow and processes can easily be visualized and modified. As a user, I like that Novacura Flow guides me through the whole process. If it is in picking material or in another daily routine. I see well on the screen in which step I am and what I have to scan/do next.” – Mario Bischofberger, Lean Manager Logistics and Supply Chain, Department “Global Logistics & Customs”

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2021-07-02T14:27:20+02:00
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