Artificial intelligence optimises Kaskipuu’s window packaging process
Dynamik helps door and window manufacturer achieve substantial cost savings
The Finnish door and window manufacturer Kaskipuu Oy runs a business where logistics is a massive cost item. So it was no surprise when Kaskipuu launched an in-house initiative to discover how to best optimise their logistics process. Soon after, Dynamik was chosen to become their partner of choice to create and develop a comprehensive automated solution powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Based on the experiences so far, we estimate we will achieve annual savings close to one million euros, once all the planned phases are implemented.”
Pauli Saarenpää, Production Manager at Kaskipuu’s Viitasaari factory
Kaskipuu is the largest family-owned door and window company in Finland, and this year, they will manufacture and deliver more than 100,000 products. Large volumes of this size indicate that the cost of transportation can be rather substantial. And in fact, an initial assessment of the logistics activities showed that the highest costs are derived from freight. ”Given our high volumes, we knew that even small savings would have a significant impact on our costs”, says Mika Salmela, Purchasing Director at Kaskipuu, where he is also responsible for logistics.
Optimising the packaging process
Kaskipuu’s volume product is windows, made in a large variety of heights, widths, and frame depths. Delivery to customers is mainly done with lorries or full-trailer trucks. The costs for chartering a truck are the same regardless of how many windows Kaskipuu can fit in. ”The more we can fit in per platform metre, the lower the cost per item, and previously we did not utilise the full height of the cargo space”, says Mika Salmela.
The team at Kaskipuu quickly realised that manually figuring out how to pack the windows and place the packages in the cargo space would take far too much time for the dispatching staff and only slow down the process. So gradually, the thought of using AI for the calculations surfaced.
The people at Kaskipuu already knew the people at Dynamik and understood that they are highly skilled and experienced in AI technology. So the company decided to pursue the project together with Dynamik, who made a thorough needs analysis along with extensive background research, which included several visits to the production floor to clarify how the process works.
I’d like to pinpoint how eager Dynamik was to fully understand our activities in order to craft the right solution for us. They did not simply dump a standard solution on us. Instead, they wanted to help us achieve the maximum benefit from their customised solution.”
Like a giant Tetris game
The packaging optimisation process contains numerous parameters. Partly it is about how to place the windows of an order when packing and how the packages are then placed in the cargo space to optimise the space available. Another additional parameter is to ensure that offloading at the customers’ building sites, which are often challenging in terms of delivery, must be easy.
When the first window of a customer ’s order exits the production line, the person handling the order already knows how to create the best packaging solution for transportation, since it has already been calculated in the most cost-effective way by AI.
Think of this optimising process as a giant Tetris game; you have a given space where you need to fit in as many rectangular items of different sizes as possible.”
"So, for example, placing the windows horizontally instead of standing them upright might allow us to place two windows on top of each other, utilising the full height of the cargo space. However, doing this calculation would be complicated and almost impossible manually. So instead, we feed all the necessary parameters for an order into the system and let AI do the work almost instantly", explains Mika Salmela.
Side benefits that are good for the environment
The AI solution from Dynamik has been actively in use since spring 2021. Initially, there was some fear that the personnel would resist using the solution because it would make their work more complicated and slower. But the opposite turned out to be true!
It made the work easier and the co-workers more aware of the impact their work has on the overall costs. As a result, they are now actively participating in the development of the packaging work and suggesting further improvements.”
According to Mika Salmela, they have also noticed two unexpected side benefits from the packaging process optimisation. The company now uses fewer cargo platforms and less packaging material. The amount of material previously used for only three windows is now sufficient for eight.
Both Pauli Saarenpää and Mika Salmela praise the work and flexibility of Dynamik’s experts. A project like this was bound to have many challenges, such as parameter changes and wrong data being fed from Kaskipuu’s ERP system (which is being finetuned). Another challenge was non-parameter issues, such as a calculation becoming unusable if one window was missing from a customer order for some reason. "These challenges are handled promptly, and good solutions are implemented without delay. Here Dynamik has shown their strength by responding very quickly to every change needed."
Significant cost savings that continue to grow
Mika Salmela says that it will probably take the rest of the year to finetune the system properly. Nevertheless, the benefits are already apparent, with cost savings being the biggest one of all. The packaging process is now much more straightforward and efficient. Salmela estimates a modest efficiency improvement of at least 30–40% so far. Optimised packages and cargo spaces and, in the future, also transport route optimisation are included in the planned development process. AI can provide endless possibilities.
Kaskipuu already expects annual savings of more than 100,000 euros, and the estimated savings will grow closer to one million euros per year when all the phases have been implemented. So, it’s no wonder that Pauli Saarenpää and Mika Salmela recommend other companies with similar needs and volumes to cooperate with Dynamik. "Besides, they are easy to work with and very nice people."
The customer needed to optimise and improve the logistics process. The first phase focused on the packaging process, where windows should be packed more efficiently to take up less space in freight trucks.
Dynamik delivered a solution where a system based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fed with parameters about the orders in order to calculate the optimal packing method to maximise cargo space utilisation.
→ Substantial cost savings.
Initially amounting to €100,000,with a potential of close to one million.
→ Less packaging material
→ An efficiency increase of at least 30-40%
→ Less emissions due to more efficient transportation
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