Intersig keeps inventory in line with Optimact
The satisfaction of being in control of inventory in a complex environment was the biggest driver for Intersig to implement a specialized inventory software package. The manufacturer of structural steel found the perfect addition to its ERP package in Optimact from Xeleos Consulting. Not only is Intersig satisfied with the greater inventory control, they find it also reassuring that they can benefit from the continuous improvements that Xeleos Consulting is implementing in the software.
Who is Intersig?
Since 1983, Intersig has been profiling itself as a reliable partner in the steel industry. The company produces rolls, rods, nets, construction girders, spacers and wall reinforcement. Important customers are steel processing companies, large contractors, concrete plants, bending plants and steel traders. Intersig operates throughout Europe, with a focus on the Benelux, France and Germany. Generally, the products are shipped out in full trucks.
The two Intersig factories are located in Dendermonde (Belgium) and Saint-Pourçain (France). Together the sites produce just under 400,000 tons per year. The varied portfolio consists of 8,000 references, of which about 800 are kept in stock. That stock represents no less than 90% of the turnover.
High service in steel-hard business
One of the challenges for Intersig is that it can take a very long time, sometimes even several months, for purchased steel to reach the production sites. After all, steel is not only purchased on the European market, but also imported from countries outside Europe.
“We work with about 35 different types of steel. On average, we have thousands of tons of raw materials in house, from which we then make the various finished products. In Dendermonde and France we have just under a hundred production machines to do this”, says Thomas Truyens, General Manager at Intersig. The planning for both the Belgian and the French site is being made in Dendermonde. “Together with the planning team, I ensure that we purchase the right raw materials at the right time for our customers, who at that moment don’t exactly know yet what they will need,” says Joke Goossens, planner at Intersig. “This is a major challenge in our complex business. In addition, we set the bar high in terms of service. For example, we strive to load products ordered today onto the truck tomorrow. This sets us apart from the competition, which often aims for maximum production efficiency and therefore does not offer that high flexibility.”
Stock-oriented addition to ERP
When Intersig implemented an ERP system a few years ago, the organisation assumed that this package would provide an answer to many different issues. However, that was beyond the complexity of the business.Thomas Truyens: “This package is very suitable for registering our core transactions, but the solution did not provide a striking answer for specific sub-problems. That is why we started looking for additional solutions that can deal with this. Especially in terms of inventory management, we needed more than what we could get from our ERP system. For example, we found that we regularly made products and kept them in stock when in fact there was no longer any demand for them.”
Specifically, Intersig wanted a solution that could convert the data from the ERP system into a valuable decision-making basis for the planners. T. Truyens: “When comparing different solutions, we found that Optimact best suited our needs. The package has a very practical approach and we immediately had a good click with the consultant. He had extensive knowledge of inventory management and, in addition to the package, we also wanted to bring that knowledge in. Afterwards, our feeling turned out to be correct, because that person guided us in an excellent way through the process.”
Planning with an overview of the stock
First, the necessary analyses were performed based on the available data. At that time, some obsolete stock and several products with too little stock soon surfaced. Based on these results, Intersig already adjusted the parameters, with the aim of optimal production runs.
During implementation, Intersig stayed as close as possible to the standard that Optimact offered. “Even when we start using other solutions, we always wonder whether it is not better to adapt our processes to the programme, instead of the other way around. This helped ensure that the installation of the package went smoothly. In this way we can also make optimal use of the updates and improvements that Xeleos Consulting provides for the entire users’ group,” says Thomas Truyens.
One of the most important results is that Optimact has brought much more peace to the planning. Since the arrival of the package, production has become much more stable and the number of fires to be put out has been drastically reduced.
“Today Optimact offers us a much better basis on which to base our planning,” says Joke Goossens. “We calculate what we will produce in the coming days on a daily basis. This considers new orders and production stock, among other things. At that moment, Optimact signals, for example, that the safety stock for certain products is at risk or that dead stock is piling up for certain products. The agreement is that we don’t touch on the machine planning for the next day anymore, but this will give us a good idea of any problems that may arise in the future.”
Optimact, for example, points out if the actual demand no longer matches the historical data. In this way, timely action can be taken where necessary. Optimact also considers the seasonality that plays a part in certain products.“If any discrepancies suddenly occur, we now also have them in our sights. Suppose a customer who usually orders five-ton rolls suddenly orders four-ton rolls. Then we can ask the salesperson to find out why. It is important to know whether that change is temporary or long-term, so we can take the right decisions,” Joke Goossens illustrates. “Given our enormous storage surface, it was not easy in the past to map which stock locations are always empty or which rolls are rusting. With Optimact we have a much better idea of this. For example, we can now ask the salesperson which customer might be interested in buying leftover rolls, before the demand completely disappears. In this way, we also systematically make room for products that do rotate well.”
T. Truyens: “In short, now we are much more in control of inventory. If our stock goes off the curve, we will always receive a notification from Optimact. That is very reassuring in a complex business full of uncertainties. Only the planners work directly with the package, but indirectly many others are of course benefiting from the greater stability. Because a large stock is important to us, our primary goal with Optimact was not to reduce inventory. For us, inventory is more an asset than an expense. A solid stock is, as it were, the oil that makes our machine run. But a bath full of oil makes even a square wheel turn. Optimact ensures that we have more than enough, but no superfluous inventory.”
Continuous improvement on a subscription basis
Although Optimact has been doing excellent work at Intersig for a few years now, the organisation keeps having an eye for further fine-tuning. Intersig also regularly consults with Xeleos Consulting to discuss developments.
T. Truyens: “Within the collaboration, it is a pleasant idea that we rent the software as a service. Although it seems unlikely, if Optimact no longer offers us added value at a certain point in time, we can easily pull the plug from the solution. Xeleos Consulting therefore has every interest in continuously having the package evolve along with the needs of its users. Until today we can only conclude that this is actually happening. If Xeleos Consulting develops new functionality that may be of interest to us, we will be the first to know. That is also reassuring.”
“In addition to the package, we also wanted to bring in the knowledge of Xeleos Consulting.”
“If Xeleos Consulting develops new functionality that may be of interest to us, we will be the first to know.”Thomas Truyens, General Manager at Intersig
“Today Optimact offers us a much better basis on which to base our planning.”
“If the demand no longer matches the historical data, we will know immediately. This way we can take timely action where necessary.”Joke Goossens, planner at Intersig.