REISS Büromöbel lays the ERP foundation for Industry 4.0 transformation with its VlexPlus

REISS Büromöbel GmbH, founded by Robert Reiss in 1882, is an industrial company headquartered in Bad Liebenwerda, Brandenburg, with a rich tradition and known for its homonymous products such as the REISS-Brett [drawing board], the REISS-Zwecke [drawing pin] and its REISS-Rechenschieber [slide rule]. The company has ever since had a tradition of blending its healthy culture of innovation with progressive technologies and quality craftsmanship in its unique way and is now in the process of pioneering Industry 4.0 implementations. The construction of a new, state-of-the-art factory and the introduction of the VlexPlus Next Generation ERP System with flexible production control and a communicating network of machines constitute the foundation of this process of digital transformation, scheduled for completion in 2022. The company has budgeted for a total investment of around EUR 30 million.

REISS Büromöbel head office in Bad Liebenwerda, Brandenburg, with a staff complement of around 180.

REISS Büromöbel GmbH develops, produces and distributes high quality office furniture for industry, trade and administration via more than 270 specialist retailers and through distribution networks in other European countries. The range of services comprises innovative and ergonomic office furniture systems such as stand-sit workstations and solutions for communication, acoustics, storage space and reception – from single workplaces to complex systems. This manufacturer of office furniture, elected Company of the Year by the Federal State of Brandenburg, is DIN ISO 9001 and 14001 certified, has EMAS Environmental Certification, carries the Blue Angel seal and has Quality Office certification. Around 180 employees at the Bad Liebenwerda headquarters are generating an annual turnover in excess of EUR 43 million.

Initial Situation

Legacy system beyond updating

REISS runs a process-oriented manufacturing organisation that includes all processes from planning to delivery under one roof. The ability to meet individual customer demands constitutes a success factor that distinguishes the company to this day. The diversity in the range of products is very demanding not only on the ERP system but especially also on data management and the Product Configurator at the core of the solution. Over the years, new demands of daily business and process optimisation required continuous adaptations and extensions - at the expense of the release capability of the overall system. No new ERP system releases could therefore be loaded without losing or re-programming all previous system extensions. Management therefore by 2014 realised that their future competitive edge demanded the introduction of a new software generation.

The REISS Büromöbel range of services includes innovative and ergonomic office furniture systems such as stand-sit workstations and solutions for communication, acoustics, storage space and reception.
REISS has state-of-the-art CNC machinery to handle board dimensioning, edge covering, drilling, milling and dowelling. Data networking includes construction, work preparation, and manufacture to ensure constantly high company flexibility.

The particularly high added value of REISS Büromöbel GmbH proved very demanding in the course of the selection process. All corporate processes and specialist fields such as product development/construction, sales/CRM, office planning, logistics and manufacture had to be included, not to forget the different wood and metal processing departments. “We required not only a high degree of compliance of the solution with our technical and process-related requirements, but also placed a premium on the integration of the overall solution – especially in terms of financial accounting. This was because external financial accounting in the legacy system always required certain limitations and caveats when cost accounting became more complex – we needed to move away from this”, explained REISS Managing Director Hans-Ulrich Weishaupt. The technological component was another important criterion in the decision, especially in view of the future costs. Because the basic system architecture will ultimately determine how simple, fast, reliable and release-compatible a requirement will be implementable in the system. The solution should furthermore have many standard interfaces and allow easy communication with third party systems via an open interface.

Decision-Making Process

Flexibility and the ability to handle many variants promised more surety

Since REISS must master not only the manufacture of wood but also the more complex manufacture of metal, the future software partner needed some expertise in the manufacture of furniture. To represent the wide diversity of products and guarantee consistent configuration, the variant configurator needed to be more than an add-on – it was to be deeply embedded into the ERP system. Two solutions capable of including the complex catalogue of requirements largely in the standard solution already emerged tops against the competition in the course of tendering. “Such decisions, however, depend not only on price and the service package on offer, but also require a certain measure of gut feel. The chemistry must also be right here. 

We finally awarded the tender to VLEXsoftware+consulting GmbH since we appreciated eye-to-eye communication with the medium-sized business and the very constructive and results-oriented approach. The excellent capability of handling variations and the gut feel that the Java-based system also offered us the necessary future-proof technological flexibility certainly added to our confidence when arriving at our decision”, says the company boss. Whilst customer and supplier data were largely imported from the existing system, the product data and the corresponding configuration rules were created anew in VlexPlus. Although this demanded a higher initial effort, once the data had been neatly stored in the system with its algorithms, the company stood to benefit by a sustainably high degree of automation and reliable plausibility checks. About 80 users have since September 2017 been working with VlexPlus in all departments of the office furniture specialist, from Sales and Purchasing via Manufacture and Inventory Management and down to Logistics and Financial Accounting.

Application Benefits

Optimising manufacture, with complete process transparency

The new solution allows REISS for the first time now to implement the increased requirements of automated data exchange, electronic order processing, dispatch of electronic invoices and the option of directly linking Webshops to its own system - economically and without interruption of operations. Electronic data exchange takes place here via an OFML (Office Furniture Modeling Language) interface, created in the course of the implementation the VLEXsoftware in the system, in cooperation with 3D product configuration specialists. The bidirectional data exchange based on the OFML industry standard now allows REISS to seamlessly integrate own Webshops and also Sales, Configuration or Catalogue portals and to plan complex multichannel strategies. Employees will thus be able to fully focus on examining orders without distraction by requirement of data capturing. Especially service quality benefits here.

The new system also optimises checking of resources and capacities at the time the order is captured. System errors when booking materials can now be monitored fully automated, thanks to failure-free material related processes and perfect feedback, allowing REISS staff to quickly view the order status. ERP system connections to the automated board store and pre-cutting centre furthermore enables automatic machine data feedback and integrated offcut optimisation. Over- and under-consumption as a result of cutting optimisation will be booked directly back to stock. The company will in this way not only ensure a reliable basis for recalculation but also minimise the use of resources by the process as a whole. Manual inventories are also eliminated in this area, since stock and material accounting will at all times be totally transparent. “Optimisation of our manufacturing processes and running feedback of production tells us exactly where in the process the product is. We are now able to call up this information directly from the Vlex cockpits, in real time. Cumbersome communication and request processes between colleagues are something of the past now”, says Hans-Ulrich Weishaupt.

New Industry 4.0 capable works under construction

The competitiveness of office furniture manufacturers is critically dependent on the ability to satisfy individual customer demands at no significant extra costs. Our system change offers us a basis for digitisation of our manufacturing processes and organisational structures and will moreover allow us to offer lot size 1 manufacture without, for instance, the economic penalties of intensified manual labour. The option of flexible conversion of manufacture from batch to daily piecewise production allows us in future to also reduce specifically throughput times, as needed.”

Construction of the new factory occupying an area of more than 12 500 sq. m., including an integrated MES fine-control system and a state-of-the-art “Lot size 1” plant, is currently in its implementation phase. Start-up of this factory, one of the most capable in the sector boasting state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and intelligent networked machinery, is scheduled for October 2019, fully prepared for Industry 4.0. With the conversion of the system core, REISS has laid the foundation for digital transformation already now.

Hans-Ulrich Weishaupt

What the customer says

"We have with our system conversion created the basis for the digitisation of our manufacturing and organisational structures."
Hans-Ulrich Weishaupt
Managing Director