Factory of the Future 2022 award for both Belgian factories
STAS Factory Waregem and STAS Factory Tournai have both won the award for Factory of the Future. For STAS Factory Tournai, this is the 2nd time to receive this award. STAS Factory Tournai obtained the award for the first time in 2019. With the knowledge we gained then and the expertise of our partner Squadron, we have invested heavily in both factories and have been able to transform them into real Factories of the future.
At STAS, we have not been wasting our time and we are going full steam ahead! With the determination to make our factories as future-proof as possible, we’ve launched numerous projects and programmes. In our opinion, winning a "Factory of the Future" award for both factories is just the cherry on top of an already beautiful cake, proof that we are on the right track. Let’s have a look at how STAS played into 7 necessary transformations at both factories to become a true Factory of the Future.
Our people are the heart of STAS. Together with the pillars Product and Planet, they are central to our business operations. Some of the programmes that were set up, focus on the safety and health of STAS employees. To make these goals top-of-mind, the STAS Care & Connect team was established. In addition, each STAS employee has a Challenger who challenges employees and helps them grow on a personal and professional level. In addition, the STAS Pleasure Policy was set up in agreement with our employees. This is a code of conduct with 10 golden rules that are observed daily to make work safe and enjoyable for everyone. The factories were divided into teams, led by team leaders who followed training courses to improve their leadership and coaching skills. Team boards were launched to facilitate communication within the teams. To top it all off, in 2022 we were named Top Employer for the 2nd time.
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
At STAS, we produce according to the lean and QRM production principles, ensuring that our trailers are produced in the most efficient way possible. Once the processes have been optimised, we look for up-to-date solutions to digitise and automate them. Creating Industry 4.0 is a co-creation between processes, digitalisation, automation and especially the people who make it all possible. Within this story, we started the 5S programme. You can read the full 5S story at STAS here. In addition, our chassis robot was optimised in cooperation with university students and we invested in a completely new automated line in Tournai to make the bodies for our moving floor trailers.
Digitalisation means collecting relevant information and should always create added value. Together with Squadron we developed an app to make the 5s audits run smoother. The data that results from this is collected in a PowerBI so we get a clear overview of where things are going well and where we should react more quickly. It was a strategic choice to digitise further and to develop the core part of our own ERP system (an Enterprise Resource Planning system) ourselves, making it compatible with external modules. This way, we were able to provide a best-of-breed solution that supports the entire production process. This tool is currently in the final phase and will help us to automatically make a production planning based on the agreed delivery date. Furthermore, with this app our employees can easily see where a trailer is in the production process and carry out quality checks.
At STAS we design our trailers according to end-to-end engineering. We have a complete database with all the drawings that have already been worked out. From there we can easily work out different configurations when necessary. This way allows our engineers to work on new drawings and draw modularly. Within the software, we can also run strength simulations and further optimise the design. This way, we guarantee an optimal strong/light construction of our trailers and we can continue to innovate. The drawings that our engineers produce can easily be sent to our own ERP system: Fusion.
The energy consumption of the STAS factories is mapped monthly. Together with the shop floor, we look at how we can reduce the ecological footprint. As they are closer to the energy consumption, they quickly see more opportunities for optimisation. We call this project Green Factory and it is part of our Continuous Improvements. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce our ecological footprint, work more efficiently and deliver a top-quality product to our customers. We are working towards products that are as recyclable as possible, that are designed for maximum payload and that are intended for long-term usage.
In addition, we’ve set up an ambitious Sustainability plan where we look at how we can become more sustainable in terms of People, Product and Factory. Within this plan, solar panels have already been installed at STAS Waregem and the Sustainability team was created.
We are working on our own ERP system (Fusion) which is currently in its final phase. Within the Sales area, our STAS dealers can configure vehicles and schedule available slots. When an order is placed in the system, several things are started automatically: the necessary materials are purchased if not in stock, instructions for production are created and if there are special requests: the team of engineers is called in. Orders don’t have to pass by an engineer before going to production, so there are fewer interventions. The engineers can focus on new developments.
Fusion ensures that the right information or work instructions are available at the right time for the right people. Given the large number of available options, every trailer is unique, which means that the production time is also unique. Thanks to the smart planning algorithm we can take this into account and make sure production runs as smoothly as possible.
For large projects at STAS, we set up sustainable partnerships with parties that have the necessary expertise. For example, we set up a new robot line through a partnership and we are currently also working with the KU Leuven University. In this way, STAS creates a sustainable network of partners that we can call on when necessary. Throughout the entire production process, we continually strive for process optimisation.
Winner Factory of the Future: STAS Waregem and STAS Doornik
All these efforts have clearly paid off, because we have been blessed with a double award: one for our site in Waregem where we have been producing aluminium dumper trucks for years, and one for our site in Tournai where we focus on the production of moving floor trailers. For us, this is certainly not the end of our efforts but only the beginning towards a bright and promising future.
Go team STAS!
Watch the two reports from the Belgian television here: