IPO.Plan: Enhancing Logistics with Flexible-Cell Manufacturing

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Tobias Herwig, Authorized Officer, IPO.PlanTobias Herwig, Authorized Officer
As the complexities of manufacturing processes increase with the disruptive advancements in technology, so does the need for efficient optimization of logistics and production planning. It is not just about managing resources on an Excel spreadsheet and tweaking existing operations to suit the production plans but optimizing logistics and production planning prior to the operational phase. However, the optimizing process demands large amounts of information—numeric data—from the production lines, which is rather complex and time-consuming to simulate and troubleshoot the changes. Wouldn’t it be better if plant engineers could visualize the changes with 3-D effects, and accordingly optimize logistics and production planning without the need for an Excel sheet or a simulation specialist? Aligned with this idea, Leonberg-based IPO.Plan brings in a unique approach to logistics optimization by linking 3-D visual data with numeric simulation data in a dynamic digital model for holistic and transparent logistics planning.

It all began ten years ago when IPO.Plan embarked on a planning project and offered consulting services to one of its clients looking to plan new production lines and optimize production logistics. Despite utilizing best-in-class simulation tools, Excel, and CAD systems, optimization of production logistics proved tedious and time-consuming. The breakthrough arrived when Michael T. Wagner, founder of the company, bolstered IPO.Plan’s approach to logistics optimization with his in-depth IT R&D knowledge. This was a good addition to the rich engineering consulting expertise. Currently the CTO at IPO. Plan, Wagner aided the company’s idea to bring the better of two worlds for improved software development in daily projects. “We began developing small tools in order to harness the benefits of combining planning, simulation, and visualization data,” states Tobias Herwig, Authorized Officer at IPO. Plan. With a vision to combine planning, simulation and visualization data for optimal efficiency in factory and production planning, the company developed a macro that laid the cornerstone for its state-of-the-art software, IPO.Log.

We are uniquely radicalizing production by transferring classical assembly lines with logistics into a digital model of a flexCell

IPO.Log provides clients with a transparent overview of the production plan and logistics, allowing them to collaborate with numerous technology vendors for faster production cycles and logistics optimization. The company boasts an experience-rich development team specializing in designing robust and easy-to-use software that can be used in conjunction with other tools, and a success-driven sales team to consult the customers on limitless software usage. In addition to the distinctive approach, IPO.Plan’s uniqueness stems from its “flexible-cell manufacturing”, or ‘flexCell’, Industry 4.0 proposition that eliminates assembly line rigidity by guiding the products to be processed through a matrix of cells using AGV (Automated guided vehicle). The assembly line is broken down into interconnected workstations (cells) that are digitally mapped for maximum utilization, and accurate calculation of the product assembly process. The flexCell algorithm integrated with the planning tool calculates the optimal occupancy of the cells, based on which, logistics resources and driverless transport systems are controlled.

With flexCell algorithms infused into IPO.Log, clients can simulate intra-logistics and classical assembly processes with real data to achieve scalable product range, flexible capacity planning, and reduced losses, all at the push of a button. “We are uniquely radicalizing production by transferring classical assembly lines with logistics into a digital model of a flexCell,” adds Herwig.

Recently, one of IPO.Plan’s clients—Max Holder GmbH, successfully implemented IPO.Log to combine production lines of multiple products into a single one for simplified simulation, planning, and logistics, using a holistic digital model. The client was able to utilize the software to design digital models for strategic business planning and day-to-day optimization of production and logistics.

Looking ahead, IPO.Plan is working to enhance its flexible-cell manufacturing process further, and bridge the gap between logistics, operations, and strategic planning projects. Having procured a client-base across the west coast of the US, Japan, and of course the German-speaking countries, IPO.Plan strives to rapidly expand to the North American, Europe and Asian continents.