Case Study : VPK

Stateless Integration with SAP

London - Greycon is pleased to announce that the world's first new generation mill system is now live since 1 February 2004 at VPK's Oudegem mill. The system uses the latest technology from SAP, including the Mill Product extensions and APO®, which is seamlessly integrated with Greycon's trim optimisation (X-Trim) and paper machine manufacturing execution system (ReTrim).

The new system differs significantly in architecture from traditional IT systems for production and order fulfilment in the paper industry that mainly comprise of software solutions whose scope is restricted to specific functions. These standalone systems are not (or are only partially) connected to one another and with other business software. This hampers process integration and control. For data to be processed by the cost accounting functions, or for the introduction of a new grade, for example, either requires complex interface programs or repeated manual entry of information at the various workcentres. This wastes time, increases the potential for error, decreases efficiency and restricts the flow of information.

The new system consists entirely of SAP and Greycon modules. The SAP modules include SD, FI, APO/PP, CRM, QM and MM/WM. The Greycon modules are X-Trim® and ReTrim. The key design aim in this architecture is for the SAP on-line transactional system to be the master repository of information (redundancy-free data), with the Greycon modules operating in essentially stateless mode. In this way, the bulk of the synchronisation and interfacing problems are eliminated, and the SAP system contains the complete picture of the Enterprise business information (such as customer order status, stock position, stock valuation, work-in-progress etc.).


The following diagram provides a more detailed view of the connectivity between the Greycon modules and the SAP ones:


With this new architecture, transactions at the paper-machine / winder such as the registration of a jumbo, the capture of quality information, the weighing of a finished reel are all captured by ReTrim and instantaneously transmitted to SAP (to modules such as MM/WM, PP, SD and QM). In addition, ReTrim makes sophisticated optimisation technology accessible to winder crews so that they can overcome production deviations such as quality defects, caliper variations, etc.

This interfacing between Greycon and SAP is due for certification by SAP shortly.

The Greycon solution is implemented using high-performance low-cost Microsoft technology and employs transactional replication and other hardware redundancy features to ensure availability on a 7x24 basis.

In summary the benefits of the system include:

Low Cost

The traditional cost of the MES component has been reduced to less than a fifth of the amount of a conventional mill manufacturing execution system.


The tight integration between the SAP and Greycon modules provides a holistic solution, which eliminates the costly and time-consuming interface, banishes the information black holes and generates a consistent picture of production, including order status and cost, throughout the enterprise. With certification of the integration by SAP, the long-term evolution of the system is assured.


The advanced optimisation features in ReTrim provide a quantum leap compared to the previous situation where the mill staff either had to beg planning to re-optimise or had to take a guess about how to compensate for production variations.


VPK is an integrated waste-based company with two paper mills and several converting plants:


(Indicated volumes are in capacity terms)