Success Story

So long, paper: Helmut Fischer chooses digital shopfloor management.

Helmut Fischer GmbH

Logistics, production, quality assurance, purchasing | Electronics / Measurement Technology


Process transparency in production and logistics; visualization for real-time monitoring of delivery reliability, quality, and costs, and early detection of possible disturbances at the regularly scheduled shopfloor meeting


Real-time visualization of shopfloor data with Peakboard as a lean management tool


  • Standardized interfaces to various systems
  • Faster and more efficient response to errors
  • Head-start advantage in terms of information thanks to real-time data with no programming required

Time to value

Final shopfloor management solution achieved in a few short months


Helmut Fischer.

With some 800 employees worldwide, Helmut Fischer GmbH is a full-service supplier in the field of surface testing and has been developing precision instruments for surface measurements since 1953. The product range extends from handheld devices for the measurement of coating thickness in corrosion protection to XRF spectrometers and analysis to fully integrated systems in the electronics industry designed to monitor automated production.

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“Only Peakboard met our requirements for standardized interfaces to various systems, especially SAP, as well as the visualization of shopfloor data in real-time and with no programming required.”
André Fimpel, Head of Lean Management at Helmut Fischer GmbH


Outdated information, less transparency and lower performance.

Helmut Fischer’s shopfloor management is a key component in monitoring and improving its production and logistics. As part of its lean management strategy, the company continues to seek greater process transparency in both areas in order to catch potential problems and performance deficiencies before they occur. The visualization required for this is meant to play a decisive role at the regularly scheduled shop-floor meetings as a way of creating a shared understanding of the overall picture. In this way, those involved seek to monitor delivery reliability, quality, and costs in real time, and act on possible disruptions at an early stage.

The previous shopfloor solution does not visualize data in real time, with key performance indicators being recorded by hand on paper and thus not updated regularly. Outdated lists and a lack of transparency generally lead to lower performance levels, for example due to focusing on the wrong issues at the shopfloor meetings. Good decisions made based on this information are therefore not always the best ones. Keeping the metrics on the physical wall up to date involves great effort.

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Digitally mapped production for faster and better decisions.

“We were looking for simple, flexible, and comprehensive options with standardized interfaces to various systems, especially SAP. And we wanted everything visualized in real time with no programming required,” said André Fimpel, who oversaw the project in his role as Head of Lean Management at Helmut Fischer.“ After taking an extensive look around, we discovered that so far only Peakboard meets these requirements.”

Helmut Fischer GmbH made use of the Stuttgart-based company’s three products: Peakboard Designer and Peakboard Box on the one hand for visualizing existing machine data. Peakboard Edge on the other for displaying signals from factory operations, for example via switches, and playing them out through other external devices.

The visualization of the measuring instrument manufacturer’s data has the following setup: five shopfloor monitors on the team level and one monitor on the department level, each with a 46-inch touchscreen. All monitors are located in strategic places throughout the production facility so that teams and departments do not have to go far.

The monitors are connected via LAN to SAP, Excel spreadsheets, and an SQL server to collect progress data. In addition, employees use a rotary knob to transmit information about their tugger trains, which make trips several times a day to supply materials to the individual production areas. Helmut Fischer updates the collected information by feeding it into an SQL database in order to map the data history and to view trends. The teams are divided up according to production steps and a traffic-light system informs them when delays occur. Team members can immediately call up the details with just a single click.

The following information and processes are visualized:

  • Production orders: deadlines and missed deadlines
  • Kanban control loops: replenishment interval, problems with the replenishment of parts
  • Action plan
  • Punctuality/sequence of internal timed routes
  • Capacity in production per area vs. order-processing time

Before deciding to purchase, André Fimpel tested the free Peakboard Designer. Helmut Fischer GmbH created the first dashboard on its own.

“With some basic technical know-how and a little support from the internal SAP team and Peakboard, we did a good job,” said Fimpel. “We first had to understand the SAP structure to get to the data we were looking for. At the beginning, we performed a longer test with a daily check to clarify detailed questions: What data do we really need, and what don’t we need? That was a valuable, facilitated process.”

The team critically assessed the system’s reliability at first, as well as the costs and the IT resources needed to implement and maintain the solution. According to Fimpel,

“We quickly realized the benefits of the first application, and the data is generated with practically no effort on our part. That alone made Peakboard worth it. The excellent support also ensured high performance.”

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Real-time information for surprising insights and greater efficiency.

The company initially supplied just one team with real-time data as a test.

“We noticed right away that they see things the others don’t, such as the status quo of orders, incorrect bookings, deadline discrepancies, and much more. The team with the new solution had an advantage in terms of information, which made it possible for them to take steps quickly so that our customers received their product on time and with the customary Fischer quality,” said Fimpel, describing the initial experience.

Errors in data consistency, for example, due to incorrect area specifications, are now transparent as well, and all areas—Production, Purchasing, Logistics, PPS, LEAN—share the same overall picture of the situation. One particular “aha” moment occurred when orders that had been physically completed, but which were still listed as open in the system, became transparent. Right after going live for the first time, the team saw that an order that was actually finished had not yet been scanned as completed. Another example was an order flagged as red order that suddenly became visible as being in progress at workstation A, although it had been posted to workstation B. Discovering this at a later date would have caused major problems with inventory and pricing, among other things, resulting in subsequent costs.

“Ever since the solution was implemented, the issues on the shop floor have now become clearly focused on the specific challenges, and we are much faster when it comes to resolving them. The urgency of a case, such as a missing part, now depends entirely on its importance, making it an objective matter. This has also helped us to further develop our error-correction culture, as we can now identify error chains in real time and easily break them,” said Fimpel. “Even when faced with looming bottlenecks, we are now responding faster, and we are managing to plan capacities more accurately, ensure greater delivery reliability, and utilize our capacities better. Our decisions have become swifter and more targeted ever since we began visualizing our production processes. Dealing with challenges transparently and based on facts means that employees better understand decisions and accept the solution very well.”

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Quite lean.

Helmut Fischer is already thinking about using more visualizations. The purchasing department, for example, could improve its milk-run performance by knowing exactly what parts are urgently needed. Data on open orders, due dates, and workload would help to pick logistics, while Peakboard’s solution in shipping logistics could visualize the organization of shipments, degree of urgency, and pick-up dates.

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