The Gothenburg company Vigab performs various types of metal processing, mainly for load-bearing structures, industrial installations and interior forging. When after a major investment, they saw the need to automate their material supply, they enlisted the help of the EU-funded program Digiresan, where Prevas became their development partner.
"In the autumn of 2019, we invested in a new machine for thermal cutting," says Edwin Modin, project manager at Vigab. "To get the most out of the investment, we wanted to build a custom inventory system that could communicate with the cutting machine but also integrate with our overall business system."
During a previous development project, Edwin Modin had come into contact with the EU-funded program Digiresan, which supports digitization projects in industry. He presented Vigab's challenge and vision for Göteborgs Tekniska College, GTC, which coordinates the program.
"We saw Digiresan as an opportunity to get help with setting requirements for the new inventory system," says Edwin Modin. "The idea was to create a good starting point for a programmer who could then do the actual job."
Digiresan provides training, exchange of experience and expert assistance equivalent to 30 consulting hours to small and medium-sized companies that want to automate and digitize their operations. The program is funded by the EU via the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth with support from the Västra Götaland Regional Council and Region Halland. Göteborgs Tekniska College, GTC, is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the activities.
Prevas works together with its customers to make processes, products and services more efficient, user-friendly and profitable. In recent years, they have carried out a large number of digitization projects in various industries and sectors. Prevas' operations in Gothenburg are mainly focused on automated material handling and production logistics, maintenance systems and system support.
"We visited Vigab and looked at how they take in customer orders and how the orders are transferred to production," says Olle Damgaard, consultant at Prevas in Gothenburg. "Their production was partially automated, but many steps were handled manually."
Vigab went into Digiresan with a specific wish – to get help with setting the requirements for an interface for automatic inventory management. However, after initial discussions about needs and long-term ambitions, this basic idea appeared to be limiting. Instead, Vigab and Prevas began sketching a more comprehensive development step – how they could digitize the entire production flow.
"So the project became much bigger than we had thought from the beginning," says Edwin Modin. "Olle at Prevas constantly reminded us to look at the whole before diving into the details and technical solutions. It was nice to get that feedback from someone who has experience from similar digitization challenges."
Vigab is now working with Prevas to draw up a plan for subsequent efforts. Development will be carried out step by step with careful follow-up to ensure that work is correctly directed and provides the greatest possible benefit.
How did it go with the interface for inventory management? Despite the project changing direction and despite tight time frames, Vigab and Prevas also managed to look at the interface for inventory management.
"A surprising amount could be achieved in 30 hours," says Olle Damgaard. "We have developed an embryo of the interface and specified what information the cutting machine needs and what information it will return. We have also had contact with the machine manufacturer and familiarized ourselves with how we can communicate with the machine. The next step will be prototypes and tests."
"Prevas has conducted the project as if we were their most important customer," says Edwin Modin. "I am really impressed by their commitment and by the results we have achieved together."