Production planning solution for 3 complex processes in a factory




The production of steel bars for the construction and civil engineering purposes not only consists of several complicated and interdependent production processes but also very much conditional on the specific requirement of the production orders. These restrictions may turn the production planning into a nightmare when you want your production plant grow at a large scale and have a mid- and long-term forecasting of the production capacity.

This is a success story about the leader of the steel industry of Spain, and what it did at the stage of production planning to become a main supplier of the metal bars to the European market, a manufacturer with a working concept of circular economy and production giant with a real sustainability policy in place.

Problematics in the production planning process

Celsa set as its goal to optimize production planning in order to reduce costs, lead time and raw materials consumption, while respecting all the product quality requirements of the clients. And as a response to that request Aquiles Solutions offered a production planning tools that could extract the data from the existing ERP system and transform it into user-friendly interface that would help to plan the production flow at three different manufacturing sites, control stock management, generate instantaneous reports and guarantee proper quality of the order with minimum production expenses.

But prior to the deploying the planning and scheduling tool, it was essential to provide a thorough analysis of the whole process flow at the factory and set the problematics clear:

    • Production planning should be determined for three separate yet interdependent production lines: Steel mill, Rolling mill, and Heat treatment and finishing, with a very precise coordination between these stages to avoid bottlenecks.
    • Production restrictions set by the clients’ orders and the plant itself should be controlled as different quality standards largely influence the whole production process and its planning in all three stages.
    • SAP remains to be the main data storage tool, but its cost and rigidity makes it financially disadvantageous for production planning, leaving the company with no proper tool to manage the production process even with all needed data at hand.
    • Complexity of the manufacturing process and multitude of the variables made it impossible to calculate short- and long-term production planning, restraining the efficient resources management and flexibility of the whole production process.


Having analysed the current situation of the client with key factors, the next step of the project was to set well-specified desired results and define functionalities of the tool at each stage of the complex production process.

Setting feature for effective production planning

An application should be able to plan each stage of the manufacturing process in an efficient and error-free manner, taking into account the orders, criteria of the products and stock, and obtaining the data directly form the ERP.

Rolling mill

For the rolling mill module, numerous criteria should have been taking into consideration: production by diameters, maintenance stops, change of configuration on the lines, planning updates and the conditions set by the product´s requirements such as composition and geometric configuration. Besides, it should do:

  • Automatic data collection
  • Automatic re-calculation
  • Simple editing functionality
  • Global planning considering other processes for joint improvement
  • Working in simultaneous scenarios

Steel mill

In case of the steel mill production planning module, besides the mentioned above, it should be programmed in conjunction with the rolling mill production plan, as it provides raw materials to this production line. And provide:

  • Multiple scenarios, considering the changes made in the rolling process
  • Data presented in timeline chart and/or in pivot tables
  • Graphical representation of the evolution of raw material stock
  • Possibility to print the data and/or export it in different formats

Heat treatments and finishing

As a final step of the entire production planning solution, the heat treatment and finishing should match in its functionalities with the previous stages. Yet, it contains certain production methods & peculiarities that should be solved as its own section.

  • Automatic data collection and traceability
  • Future visibility to plan the finishing of the upcoming orders
  • Automatic recalculation with the inputs from the steel mill production plans
  • Simple editing to set new treatment cycles
  • Full production cycle visualization with the function of grouping, filtering and exporting data
  • Possibility of a full control and joint analysis of steel mill and treatments before approving them

Application and results

Said and done, the development of the personalised digital tool has started. Tech team of Aquiles Solutions had a profound knowledge on how to make an architecture of the tool, but to adjust it to the company´s needs with the maximum efficiency it was critical to work in close collaboration with the experts on site.

Such a close interaction of the working teams allowed to redefine original analysis and create an agile methodology and short development life circles within the project.

As a result, the tool with multiple processes was developed in such a way that it could

    • mingle with the exiting ERP, keeping an ongoing exchange of the information, and reducing a large part of manual work. It guaranteed a more reliable data entry due to an automatic creation of the production order with just a slide of the mouse.
    • comply with a large number of restrictions and propose the best production order given the qualities, quantities and lead time requirements.
    • do the planning for each production mill, create an agile system that would synchronize all the steps in one fluid process, and provide simultaneous recalculations at all stages.
    • provide the possibility to “play” with system and edit the production scheduling in order to find the optimal solutions of short- (up to 3 weeks) and mid-term (up to 6 months) period.


All this made even the sceptical members of the client’s team to become strong supporters of a new tool and dive deeper in order to optimise it to constantly growing requirements.

Benefits from production planning optimization

Having used .NET Framework with SQL Server, Aquiles Solutions tech team managed to do complex programming and achieve the results that were not possible within the settings of SAP, together with outstanding direct and consequential benefits.

    1. Long-term scheduling of production plans (up to 9 months)
    2. Possibility to predict ETD for each order, offering an on time delivery
    3. Higher productivity in accordance with the production planning (machinery wearout and production control and timely equipment replacement)
    4. Product quality control (due to the product quality indicators throughout the production lines)
    5. Automatic preparation of the Order Forms and raw materials requests in the ERP
    6. Minimizing human errors (most processes are carried out or validated by the system)

Besides, it enabled the production planning department to avoid the restrains in the generation of the ERP documents such as Production Forms, Casting lists, Raw Material Requests, etc. The documents used to be generated 2-3 times per day, now the system generates and validates the forms with a simple drag and drop function.


What make a well-doing optimization project turn into a real Success Story? The moment that marks “Before” and “After” when the solution is being implemented. As it happened with the Production Planning optimization tool that not only simplified the process of the planification for three production sites but also synchronized the workflow of different departments within the company and internal partners.

A customised solution based on the AI was a simple answer to a complex problem that was holding back the productivity and long-term planning for the client. At Aquiles Solutions we believe in the power of Artificial Intelligence and we know how to apply its technology in each case manufacturing processes in particular.


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