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Formica high pressure laminate kitchen

Shopfloor-Online is a key success factor in Formica’s business transformation journey


"Because of the visibility it provides on operations, Shopfloor-Online is opening doors on opportunities for improvement projects which were unthinkable … when we had a manual system in place"

Paul Foreman, Chief Operating Officer

Formica Group manufactures 10,000s of HPL products from kitchen worktops and fire doors, to exterior façades and interior wall panels.

Having decided to embark upon a business transformation journey, Formica Group required the roll-out of new business systems. The Company selected a new ERP for the group, leaving it up to each region to identify a suitable solution to manage plant level activities. 

Challenge: replace legacy information systems across all manufacturing plants in Europe in order to improve competitiveness and drive up customer satisfaction

The HPL manufacturing process is complex, comprising of four steps where inventory of semi-finished goods is created at each step. Due to the large number of references, WIP stock accuracy is critical, even more so in the made-to-order use case.

With little data captured electronically, all five European plants were experiencing shortfalls, sometimes significant, in scheduling and inventory control.

With the new ERP programme already rolling out in America, the European business needed to replace legacy information systems across all 5 plants with a system, that would interface with the new ERP, in a matter of months. The Group ERP project was big. Touching every aspect of Formica’s business, it was also running to a demanding schedule.

Solution: Shopfloor-OnlineTM MOM Software

Having reviewed a number of solutions, including the ERP vendor’s own MES offering, the European IT team chose Shopfloor-Online. “The functionalities of Shopfloor-Online combined with Lighthouse’s ability to understand our business process and turn around a credible demonstration won the decision over”, commented Chris Davies, European IT Manager.

The Lighthouse MES system went live in two factories at the same time as the new global ERP.  It was then deployed at a fast pace across two more plants within the following months. Just one year after the initial deployment, and having seen the benefits of the MES in day-to-day operations,  Formica implemented Shopfloor-Online at their tool manufacturing plant - a very different process from HPL manufacture, tracking WIP materials through numerous operations.

Within a tight 12 month period, all five European plants were running Shopfloor-Online. 

Shopfloor-Online was initially implemented to deliver a user-friendly front-end to the ERP and address inventory management requirements. However, as the project progressed, the Formica team was impressed by the broad capabilities of Shopfloor-Online and expanded the scope of the MES software to include scheduling.

“The roll-out of the new ERP provided an opportunity for Formica Europe to find and adopt a single standard system to manage production, i.e. to get a Manufacturing Execution System (MES)”, explained Chris Davies.

What the MES does

  • Download production orders from the ERP
  • Track work orders at each step of the manufacturing process, i.e. treatment, collation, pressing, finishing
  • Track the progress of tools as they move from operation to the next, using mobile scanners
  • Create, track and manage inventory of finished and semi-finished goods, using mobile barcode scanners, thus supporting the packing, moving around the shop floor, consumption on the lines and unpacking
  • Confirm inventory of finished and semi-finished goods back to the ERP
  • Make all the manufacturing data available for reporting and analysis

Two hundred operators across all European plants access Shopfloor-Online, hosted in Formica’s corporate datacentre in the USA, via a web browser.

Operators adopted the systems universally and quickly because it made their work so much easier. “A key success factor of the Formica MES project has been the significant engagement of experienced shop floor workers in the evaluation and design phases”, commented Tim Barber.

Paul Foreman, Chief Operating Officer, reflects, “With so many changes having happened at the same time in our business processes and systems, it’s not easy to pinpoint what made the biggest difference, but we are now meeting on-time-delivery targets over 90% of the time, and the MES plays a key role in this”.

Key Benefits

More than just providing a user-friendly front-end for operators to record activities and support the process, Shopfloor-Online feeds live accurate data to the ERP and provides the WIP stock accuracy required to full-fill orders according to the schedule.

Formica is now able to meet delivery targets over 90% of the time.


Formica Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of High Pressure Laminate (HPL), operating 15 manufacturing sites in the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. The company supplies branded, designed and surfacing solutions for commercial and residential customers worldwide.

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