How SAP Helped Create a Next-Generation Factory for Beauty and Sustainability

The product line is designed to be beautiful as well as sustainable in terms of its durability and benefits for the environment. It’s highly resistant to scratches, abrasions, dry heat, solvents and cleaners, food, ink, makeup, crayons, and much more so that it can stay beautiful for years to come. But what the revolutionary high-pressure laminate (HPL) FENIX® line can’t handle is traditional HPL manufacturing.

A problem more than skin deep

Developed by Arpa Industriale S.p.A. of Italy for interior designs — including kitchen counters and cabinets — FENIX undergoes a unique series of production processes, with a multilayer coating and the use of next-generation acrylic resins. Its thin, mat surface is prone to defects when manufactured traditionally. In the early stages of product development, that vulnerability led to a large amount of scrap material along with wasted water, energy, and other resources. Clearly, this was not good for the company’s bottom line or the environment.

What’s more, with traditional manufacturing, too much time and resources were spent analyzing factory processes, and the company was unable to combine employee best-practice knowledge with operational data. The result? Production delays and stalled production-line innovation.

A fresh approach

Arpa wanted to standardize and optimize its FENIX production to cut costs and improve product quality and innovation — as well as reduce the consumption of resources in the production process. So, instead of modifying an existing factory, the company smartly started from scratch. It created a new manufacturing facility just for the FENIX product line that represents more than 50% of the company’s current business. That’s where the beauty of SAP intelligent solutions comes in.

The new factory runs on SAP. Data from more than 1,600 sensors, in addition to every system and subsystem, throughout the facility is fed directly into SAP software. As a result, Arpa is able to obtain real-time insights and predictive analytics about the state of the operation — where it’s at now and what the future might bring for preventive management.

Arpa can create customized performance dashboards that use the real-time sensor data for monitoring and analyzing every millisecond of daily production, including product quality and waste and for fine-tuning processes. Employee practices that deliver the best results can be identified, and the plant machinery can be programmed to deliver similar results. Wow!

Where design beauty, sustainability, and efficiency meet

Processes can be coordinated with SAP software. For example, sales orders entered into the SAP customer relationship management (CRM) solution automatically update SAP manufacturing and warehouse management software. This results in timely and efficient raw material provisioning and production-line scheduling. Laser-guided vehicles (LGVs) in the factory warehouse work autonomously around the clock to load and reload bar-coded rolls of raw materials, staying in sync with SAP CRM. SAP artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies help Arpa constantly improve performance and sustainability. Wow again!

“With best practice and intelligent automation functionality integrated into the factory’s operation using manufacturing and supply chain solutions from SAP, Arpa’s vision of a reproducible template for operational excellence and sustainability has become a reality,” says Stefano Rossetti, production manager for Arpa.

Beautiful results

Thanks to its employees and SAP solutions, Arpa has been able to reduce energy and water use in its manufacturing process by 80%. It has cut scrap waste by 96%. Productivity has improved more than six times compared to traditional high-pressure laminate (HPL) factories. And all those improvements have helped the bottom line. In the first year of the factory’s operation, Arpa saved €750,000 in production costs.

The FENIX factory has established a best-practice model for operations company-wide. Based on that success, Arpa plans to leverage SAP software to run a multiyear initiative and deploy new production methods and technologies across its other factory operations — a proven design for sustainable success.

These accomplishments have made Arpa a WINNER of the SAP Innovation Awards for 2022. For more information on what they did to achieve this honor, see their pitch deck.

Digital Transformation