Digitising the human-centered production workflows at VIGO

Helping people maintain or regain their freedom of movement: that has been the mission of orthopaedic company VIGO since 1956. The technical protheses and orthoses they make are all fine examples of pure craftsmanship. Yet, at the same time, VIGO is fully committed to innovation, both to develop ever-better solutions and to streamline their business. After all, digitizing processes also leads to better customer services.

Vigo production flows 2

Technology just for technology’s sake, that’s not how things go at VIGO. The company has been a frontrunner in the orthopaedics market for over 20 years, yet new technology has always been a means to improve the lives of their patients and optimize internal processes. When it comes to process optimization, Flexso and SAP have long been trusted partners of VIGO. When the company decided to digitise their production workflow, they knocked on our doors again.

Image ©Ottobock

From paper planning...

The production process at VIGO remains human-centered: it is executed by craftsmen rather than machines. To plan the workflow, VIGO traditionally used physical index cards. “Since we deliver medical goods, punctual delivery is essential,” says COO Daniel Sengeløv. “This means that production line managers spent most of their time on coordination and planning, rather than assisting the craftsmen on the production floor.”

For the craftsmen, the index card system required manual work to follow up on the production process. And some medical devices being produced have to pass through several production lines. So to check the status of such a product, the craftsmen would have to search through the index cards.

… to a digital workflow

VIGO decided to replace this time-consuming paper processes by digital. Still, standard SAP solutions like production automation and planning were not a perfect fit for VIGO’s production process.

The solution? Redesigning the SAP Production Planning (SAP PP) configuration and creating a custom planning logic. VIGO relied on Flexso for the development of the digital planning and three applications, focusing on each of the stakeholders:

  • A mobile app for the craftsmen providing a clear overview of the priorities. They can now see which of the orders are ready to progress, and register the dedicated time and resources in the app.
  • A planning visualisation app with an easy drag & drop interface.
  • A SAP GUI app where line managers can validate the incoming orders and the digital planning.

Higher quality, more efficiency

Less paperwork and callbacks, faster delivery and refunds and an increase in available time for production: those were the three reasons why VIGO wanted to digitise their production flows. The new solutions tick all the boxes.

The workflow and planning are now more efficient. Craftsmen have a single app where they can find all necessary and up-to-date product info, so they can focus on their core tasks. This helps them to achieve an even higher production quality, since they are relieved of the manual follow-up with the index cards.

The company has a better overview of their production site as well: the time and resources spent on each order are readily available. The use of scanners and QR codes in the materials-coordination department increases transport efficiency.

Considering this huge change that affects more than 250 employees in a tailor-made production process, we may conclude that – apart from the obvious initial hurdles – the implementation went smoothly. We approached the work process step by step, and both IT and our staff were highly involved in it. The result is a powerful application that allows us to raise our quality in terms of products and services, and satisfy our customers demands.

Dries Verbruggen - IT Manager VIGO

Further optimisation

VIGO already has plans to expand their new digital workflow with future innovations. As the production process is continuously changing and innovating, VIGO keeps searching for new optimisations.

Innovations in the pipeline include:

  • Planning optimisation: alter the planning logic to achieve an even better planning with less human intervention
  • Serial number tracking of component parts
  • Quality reminders with gamification for craftsmen
  • Top-floor reporting cockpit

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