Philippe Bierry and Ulas Topal talk explain long term evolution of the SIL system dedicated to the glass manufacturing industry.
2014 SIL version has been released by Vertech’, the French specialist for production monitoring systems dedicated to the glass container industry.
“The new functionalities and improvements will delight our customers thanks to the improvements” says Ulas Topal, Sales director at Vertech’, “as major evolutions are developed in close relation with our customers to answer their requirements and projects”.
“We invest about 25% of the turnover in developments every year” confirms Jonathan Souillot, in charge of R&D. “Last year major evolution available for operators was the picture of the defects rejected by inspection machines and the solution dedicated to the mould shop. In the 2014 SIL version, a new dashboard displays an “at a glance” view of main key performance indicators and offers direct access to detailed information. The new release proposes many improvements focused on communications between the users, as standard of reaction sent from the lab to operators in production, or information about events sent directly on the LED displays for operators on line”.
The company was born in 1995 thanks to a simple idea: from highly specialized software created in Saint-Gobain laboratories, the goal was to develop the specific market of production monitoring worldwide.
The SIL (standing for System of Information on Line) first dedicated to counting articles, quickly evolved to a complete monitoring system connected to all inspection equipment, on line or in the lab, from the IS machine to the palletizers.
During Vertech‘s first years, Philippe Bierry, General Manager, surrounded himself with highly qualified engineers, for most of them still working in the company today. “Our staff is the main asset of the company. Engineers and project managers working in Vertech’ have a double expertise in software development and glass manufacturing practice. They perform developments, make the installations on site and train the users in the plant. They all speak 2 or 3 languages.”
After a few years of expansion, the SIL system was installed in France, Italy, Germany and USA. 19 years later, glass plants in Asia, India, Russia, Central & South America and Africa are supplied with the SIL solution. With more than 500 lines equipped worldwide, Vertech' gained expertise in glass production, a high knowledge of the standard practices in glass plants, and experience in customer tailored software applications.
In the last three years, Vertech’ was taken to a new step as several engineers and a new salesman dedicated to Europe joined the company. To face the development, Philippe Bierry decided to invest in a new building in the industrial campus of Chalon-sur-Saone, allowing to welcome customers and propose training sessions in a more adapted and pleasant environment. That is the reason why 2013 was such a busy year for the company, who moved to the new premises and renewed the professional image of the company at this occasion.
Now Vertech’ employs 33 people, divided in four different locations worldwide:
Additionally to the French head office, an office was created in 2000 in Turin, Italy - now managed by Andrea Borgno with 2 engineers for support – dedicated to the Italian market, with long term customers always volunteers for pilot projects. A subsidiary was created in Fisher, Indiana, USA, in 2005 for the USA market. It is now managed by Fabio Castro, who is also radiating on Southern America, with one engineer for support.
Last year, a fourth office was open in Mexico by Ludovic Dugenest, for the Central American market and on-site support in America. Offices and subsidiary are essential to our local customers for a close follow up, availability of sales and technical staff, they also have a stock of spare parts in case of hardware emergency.
A team of agents are also expanding customer service and creating close relationship with long distance customers. In China, Techimport has been a great support for Vertech over the last few years for creating relationship and fulfilling the needs of the Chinese market.
More recently, Sigmatrade (Iran) and Glatec (South Korea) have signed with Vertech for their experience in the Glass industry.
A solution to glassmakers’ requests
A production management software is dedicated to increasing plant performances. Benefits generated are exponential compared to the cost of the solution itself. The introduction of a MES (Manufacturing Execution System) in a glass plant is the ultimate step between production equipment level and the general management level. It is the corner stone to pilot plant management with secure data and more efficiency. As a matter of fact, the SIL system is often compared to a car dashboard by Philippe Bierry: “A production monitoring system is a tool concentrating all production data and displaying key performance indicators in real time, a management dashboard to pilot the plant. But it is also a reporting tool performing analyses and a quality tool ensuring traceability on several years.”
The modular architecture of the SIL and its flexibility enable Vertech' to adapt to the technical particularities of each plant and to answer precisely to their needs. Information collected from inspection machines and events are stored in the SIL database. The new modules developed over the last few years have made of the SIL a solution for every key process in the production chain:
follow-up of performances on production lines, management of quality controls on lines or in the lab - with SPC analysis capabilities-, final product control capabilities and resorting in the plant or at sub contractors, management of mould set performance, usage, changes, defects or damages, complete production data analysis through a comprehensive reporting tool, intranet production portal providing a personalized and secured access to general plant information as well as performance indicators (KPI) through web technology…
“Technical evolutions are essential to our solution; however we placed even greater emphasis on customer service in the last few years” Philippe Bierry says.
Vertech’ has developed over the years a comprehensive range of services, as IT consultancy, automation to quality procedure, commissioning of installation projects, training for Managers and Operators on site, offering a complete turnkey installation if necessary.
SIL solution was translated into 14 languages, technical documentation is available and maintained in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, and now in Turkish.
Customer support and maintenance of the system
Since Ulas Topal joined Vertech’ in 2010, maintenance contracts have been added to global service offer and are now a standard reference for Vertech’ s customers.
Maintenance consists in an annual subscription allowing upgrade of the system when the plant decide it, annually or when a new piece of inspection equipment is installed in the plant and requires connection to the SIL system.
Technical support is managed by Julien Reynaud, a very experienced technician with 15 years within the company, supported by a hotline service available 24/7/365 with a dedicated phone number. A remote access connection allows our team to make diagnosis and assist the users in very short periods of time.
Additionally, an annual audit of the system is proposed to the plant to check the performance of the system and refresh training when necessary.
Vertech’ commitments and perspectives
In 2006, the company committed itself to quality certification in order to organize its own development and structure products and services with one unique goal in mind: customer satisfaction. ISO 9001 certification was obtained and renewed in 2009 and in 2012.
The company established a process of control and validation of every hardware and software platform prepared in the company to be sent to a plant for installation.
For four years, the software provider has been proposing an annual version of the SIL solution, through an annual catalogue, in order to present a secure and uniform version, for more visibility of the new functionalities and easier upgrade for glass manufacturer groups who whish to have the same version in each plant.
Most of SIL customers are glass manufacturers from the food and beverage industry or pharmaceutics and cosmetics industry, some are in tableware. Currently, the SIL is being adapted to the glass tubes industry, offering new perspectives of development also for production lines of glass containers made out of tubes. New perspectives are also offered inside the container glass plants, out of the traditional field of installation for the SIL (from IS to palletizers): a module is already available for the management of glass components, raw materials and glass campaigns. Moreover, decoration lines were equipped with the SIL recently for the performance monitoring and the management of quality controls. Additionally, the requirements of the manufacturers for connecting external systems or integrating the solution to global ERP systems or even making the SIL their internal intranet platform represent real perspectives for the SIL.