JORI increases manufacturing efficiency while addressing COVID-19 concerns
Several years ago, JORI, a luxury furniture manufacturer based in Belgium, worked with IBM to implement a 3D configurator to give customers the ability to preview furniture online before buying it. When the company had to shutter its stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JORI decided to use the shutdown as an opportunity to move forward with a new production planning system as well.
In the past, JORI used a simple calculation algorithm for production planning that was part of its ERP system. But this solution was not able to handle all of the additional steps needed to address COVID-19 and to allow workers to safely return to the factory. Working with IBM Business Partner CD Invest, JORI took advantage of a mandatory shutdown to implement the new solution. “We were already starting to think about the new planning solution in February,” says Koen Decorte, IBM Champion and Owner of CD Invest. “But then in March, when we had the lockdown, we pushed the project forward. And it was done by the end of April.”
The manufacturing process includes a lot of manual labor, so JORI needed to be able to create detailed production plans that would accommodate social distancing among workers as well as 72-hour delays in handing furniture pieces off from one team to another to minimize the risks of workers infecting each other.
The production planning system, which was custom built by JORI and CD Invest, runs on the same IBM Power Systems and IBM i platform that support the CD configurator. So when Decorte needed assistance optimizing database and application performance on the IBM systems, he engaged IBM Services to help. “IBM Services helped us sort out our SQL queries to make them perform better,” says Decorte.
JORI now has three powerful tools at its disposal to help it quickly deliver the furniture that its customers want, even under the less-than-ideal selling conditions created by COVID-19.
First is the 3D configurator. The 3D configurator is fully integrated with JORI’s core manufacturing and sales systems, and it makes it easy for customers to choose furniture options and preview their choices. Because of the configurator, customers were able to continue shopping with JORI even when all of its stores had to be shut down because of COVID-19.
Second is IBM Watson Assistant. After creating the 3D configurator, JORI then implemented Watson Assistant. With Watson Assistant, JORI can offer customers furniture choices that are most likely to interest them, based on their region or other demographics. For example, certain regions in Belgium have smaller homes than others, so Watson Assistant might offer customers from those regions smaller furniture pieces that will fit better in their homes.
Third is the production planning solution. With the new production planning solution, JORI reduced furniture delivery times from 10 – 12 weeks to 4 – 5 weeks — and even 15 days or less in some cases. JORI achieved this speed even with building all of the additional precautions for COVID-19 into the manufacturing process.
Getting the project completed quickly was extremely important so that JORI could reopen its factory. “It was really a big effort to push the project through in that short amount of time because JORI wanted to reopen but the laws were very strict,” says Decorte. “And to reopen, you had to be compliant with all new COVID-19 rules,”
The owner of JORI was so confident that the new production planning system properly addressed COVD-19 concerns that he invited the government to come in and check to make sure that the manufacturing process was safe. The owner wanted to make sure employees felt safe coming in to work as well. “One of the main goals was to make sure that everybody can come in to work and feel that they’re operating in a safe environment,” says Decorte.
JORI is a luxury furniture manufacturer based in Belgium. Founded in 1963, it specializes in sofas, armchairs, chairs and reclining seating units in leather or fabric, offering the customer exclusive designs, optimum comfort and high quality.