Siegwerk is one of the world-leading producers of inks for commercial packaging and printed media such as newspapers and catalogs. Massive enterprises rely upon a steady supply of their product. Without Siegwerk inks, production lines and printing presses can grind to a halt.
To stop this worst-case scenario, the Siegwerk Corporate Development department entrusted us with their digital transformation. Instead of using Excel sheets to track levels, customer stocks and consignments are connected to a full Ink Management System for plants cooperating with Siegwerk. The goal was to visualize the inventory of consignment stocks in real-time, manage resources, the ability to order new inks, and predict inventory utilization to estimate future needs. Siegwerk was also keen for the data we generated with MyInkRoom to be used as a foundation for future use cases
Ink producer Siegwerk can trace the foundations of the business back to the 1820. In recent years, the company has become a truly global concern, opening major sites in countries around the world, including India and Brazil. Siegwerk leverages its history and innovation to continue as a worldwide leader.
Our first challenge was to understand the production cycle and processes related to Siegwerk’s products. In order to create an application that was really functional for users, we visited factories and came to understand our client’s needs.
We learned how vital the printing process is to profit generation; each time the printing machine is switched off, it stops production and causes costly downtime. We also learned that our software would need to include integration with dispensing machines from different suppliers like Inkmaker, GSE and SPEC.
Our system had to analyze ink consumption in real-time, show accurate stock levels, warn about critical shortages—automatically indicating what the user should order through a simple user panel. One last challenge was to adapt to delivery cycles. Lack of ink means disruption to business, so we needed the system to warn in advance, so that a user could, for example, order before on Friday in time for a Monday delivery to keep the production line rolling.
An MVP version of the application was handed to Siegwerk after 4 months. The basic functionalities were then tested in two factories in order to gather feedback. Over the next 26 months, a team of 2 dedicated developers iterated and expanded upon the functionalities of the application, rolling it out across 20 initial Siegwerk integrations all over the world.
We took responsibility for the project, from the backend and frontend infrastructure, through QA, to UX design and product management in the plants cooperating with Siegwerk. The MyInkRoom application was based on AWS, which kept the cost of architecture and maintenance low and allows for easy scalability and future development of the application. To integrate all the data coming from consignment stocks, we implemented PostgreSQL that gathers and categorizes all information about users, materials, and consumption. In the backend we used Java Spring and AWS.
Prior to the development of MyInkRoom, all stock data was stored in static files. MyInkRoom allows engineers to follow the life cycle of the product in real-time. It gives a complete view of all 29 factories and their resources. Administrators can also manage access so individual users can have a restricted view on one facility and its resources.
The system cross-references resources and consumption statistics to make accurate forecasts and help to further optimize the purchasing process.
"Customers are able to check their ink stocks from all over the world. Orders are semi-automatically prepared and can be placed within just a few seconds. Those are only the obvious benefits. In addition, Siegwerk gains the chance to further strengthen partnerships with its customers through state-of-the-art tools which are highly innovative for their industry"
Kai Limbach, Project Manager Digitalization at Siegwerk.
"The digital transformation for Siegwerk was literally a transfer from excel sheet to all-in-one resource management application. This project was fascinating—starting from the seeing the real factory processes behind the goods we buy every day, through to projecting how to include all the variable factors in the IT architecture"
Bartosz Kopańczyk, Head Developer, MyInkRoom.