Opcenter APS drives the digitalization of industrial processes at Chocolates Valor by streamlining production planning

“With Opcenter APS we have gained 16 hours per week for the planner resource dedicated to sequencing production”.

– Jordi Barbero, Supply Chain Manager Chocolates Valor

A leader in chocolates for more than a century

Founded in 1881, Chocolates Valor S.A. produces high-quality chocolate bars, chocolates and snacks. It is a leader in the domestic market for sugar-free chocolate bars, bars with a high content of cocoa and soluble products. The company is renowned throughout Spain, but its products are distributed in more than 60 countries. Besides using only top-quality raw ingredients, the company has started the process called “From Bean to Bar,” selecting the raw materials at their sources and processing them at its plants in Spain from the very start: roasting and grinding, blending and mixing, refining and finally molding, to assure the traceability of cocoa from its origin until it is transformed into a bar, without using pre-processed cocoa paste.

Chocolates Valor operates two modern production sites which together occupy more than 65,000 square and produce almost 21,000 tons of chocolate yearly. The company also has its own network of chocolate shops, with more than 33 points of sale throughout Spain. The core competitive advantage of Chocolates Valor is its drive to keep alive its longstanding chocolate tradition with high-quality products, accompanied by a manufacturing strategy focused on achieving excellence.

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Digitalizing the supply chain from cocoa beans to chocolate bars

For Chocolates Valor, digitalizing the company is essential, as it means obtaining readily available and more accurate information, which simplifies decision making and prioritizing actions. “A high degree of standardization is required in all processes,” says Jordi Barbero, supply chain manager at Chocolates Valor. “Starting from that and with the appropriate training for our staff, very good results can be achieved in an acceptable period of time.”

At Chocolates Valor, the production process is key, since it manufactures all the products it sells, carrying out the complete transformation process from cocoa beans into chocolate, to its final packaged form. This requires total, real-time control of all information coming from the shop floor, as well as appropriate tools allowing for more flexible decision-making processes and fostering the optimization of manufacturing processes.

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Visibility and transparency of plant information

Before implementing Opcenter APS software, Chocolates Valor used Microsoft Excel spreadsheets based on data captured from its SAP® enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. This system requires a great effort to capture data from the plant, and was time-consuming and required many resources. Nonetheless, information retrieved was inaccurate and did not enable a flexible and efficient decision making process. It also offered little visibility on relations among production processes, thus making the whole supply chain less transparent.

Synchronized and streamlined manufacturing processes

The production process is key for Chocolates Valor. “Our chocolate manufacturing process maximizes the quality of the final product,” says Barbero. The company thus decided to invest in digitalization solutions for the production environment, in particular through Opcenter APS, which is a family of products for production planning and programming that improves the synchronization of manufacturing processes and offers greater visibility and control. “We decided on the Opcenter APS solution because we needed to be more flexible and accurate when it came to production,” Barbero says.

The choice to adopt Opcenter APS was also based on the ability to integrate with Siemens automation systems already used in Chocolates Valor plants, as well as the solid reputation of Siemens at a global level. The adoption of the tools required two additional weeks with respect to the implementation plan, for training and user readiness.

Immediate return on investment

The implementation of Opcenter APS delivered significant functional advantages. The solution enabled Chocolates Valor to sequence production orders faster and to more accurate production planning. It also streamlined updating of production master plans and enhanced interdepartmental communications.

In terms of time, these improvements have delivered measurable results. “With Opcenter APS we have gained 16 hours per week for the planner resource dedicated to sequencing production,” Barbero says. “And we have contributed to increasing the service level. Two years ago, it stood at 97.8 percent and now we are at 98.5 percent.”

Future plans: continuing on the path towards excellence

Chocolates Valor plans to continue with the digitalization of its factories and included this objective in its strategic plan. The main goal is to achieve the ability to display data in real time across the whole supply chain to improve flexibility throughout the organization. The company is aware that having efficient processes is not enough: they also need to be a flexible organization, and digitalization plays an essential role for achieving that flexibility…