The company

This company is a steel fabrication one with an annual processing capacity of about 12,000 tonnes. It specialises in the production of industrial buildings, pipelines, pipe racks, conveyors and metal structures for offshore locations, among others.

With 40 years of history and more than 160 employees, this company is located in the north of Portugal and plays a relevant and strategic role in the region.

The challenge

The company receives steel elements (sheets and profiles) and produces different types of steel structures and components. The current production process can be described as below:

  1. Arrival of raw material and corresponding documentation (material certificates). The documentation is often delivered by email on a subsequent date.
  2. Introduction of the material in the inventory system (ERP) with the storage of the corresponding documentation.
  3. Production of steel components based on steel plate and profile cutting.
  4. and
  5. Excess material is placed in a physical inventory without registration of geometric and quality data which limits its future use. Information about the excess material is not updated in the ERP.
  6. The quality dossier, associated with each project, is produced manually.

The large growth inthe number of projects has exposed the need to improve the efficiency of theprocess and to achieve greater use of the materials and enhance datavisibility.

The approach

A detailed study was carried out to outline the entire process from raw material acquisition to production, the information flows and the interaction with the information systems. After this study, a platform was designed and implemented. The platform integrates with the existing management software of the company and also with production equipment and machines. The platform consists of different modules to tackle all the management and operational needs.

Material Reception and Management - the module allows the management of the material database from its arrival with complete tracking of all the material used during the fabrication process. The module automatically connects and updates the material location and state in the ERP system.

Cut Management and Financial Control Support - the module integrates the financial management tools by updating quantities both cut by project and allowing an effective amount of scrap. The module helps the management of other production systems by allowing pre-fill parameters and guidance on the operational tasks. The quantities that enter and exit the production are communicated and update directly on the stock.

Quality Control - the module tracks the processes and automatically creates and manages documentation for production and for each project.


The developed platform allows the efficient management of raw materials, documentation and production processes, resulting in the automation of manual processes and the communication between systems.

Main implementations/improvements:

  • Reception, traceability and repository of material data.
  • Automatic communication with the ERP systems - stock inputs and outputs.
  • Creation of a system to track and mark the transformed material connected with operational equipment and labeling system.
  • Full cataloguing of scrap leftover material allowing its full reuse in other projects.
  • Automatic generation of production books.
  • Automatic and quick generation of quality tracking information for each project.
  • Possibility of the transfer of relevant production to partners or subcontracted companies.

The solution automated several processes, reducing processing time and manual tasks. The database management regarding material allowed reducing the stock with 100% usage of the raw material, reducing the amount of scrap.

Overall improvements were implemented on the production capacity and the communication and information flow between the financial, production, procurement and sales departments.