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Microsoft supports digital transformation of FAMUR Group

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Global Mining Review,

The FAMUR Group, one of the world's leading suppliers of top-class equipment and technologies for the mining industry, is in the process of strategically changing its operations. Together with its dominant shareholder, TDJ, it started building a holding investing in green energy transformation. On a digital level, FAMUR will support Microsoft Power Automate in building the company of the future.

By the end of 2024, at least 70% of the FAMUR Group's revenues are to come from outside the steam coal sector. The first stage of transformation is entering the photovoltaic sector based on the combined resources and competences of Projekt Solartechnik, TDJ and the FAMUR Group.

FAMUR constantly works with suppliers and customers from all over the world. The purchase of raw materials, materials and components for such a large organisation is a huge process challenge, having a significant impact on the achievement of its business goals. It is in this area that the company decided to take the first step of digital transformation, i.e. a proof of concept of robots supporting purchasing processes using the Microsoft Power Automate service.

Change at the operational level

The FAMUR Group has been transforming the organisation based on Lean for several years. The foundation of this modification is primarily a change in the organisational culture and way of thinking to Lean, thanks to which it is possible to optimise processes in the organisation more efficiently.

Many operational activities have already been significantly improved and thus achieved tangible benefits. At the same time, the enormous potential of business processes (e.g. those implemented in systems) is visible, in which the combination of Leanu, standardisation and RPA robotisation will generate significant time savings, a fundamental improvement in data quality, and will allow you to focus resources on what brings greater added value for the company and its clients.

From the very beginning of the transformation, employees' commitment and the consideration their observations and opinions turned out to be invaluable. They played an important role in identifying the areas with the most time-consuming, repetitive tasks in order to select the ones that would benefit most from robotisation.

“It is teams that should indicate processes for robotisation during workshop sessions, not a robotisation specialist. The involvement of people means that they are not skeptical about changes, but wait for them with curiosity and have a sense of participation in issues of great importance for the entire company. The management's favour and full commitment to implemented projects are equally important. The subject of robotisation is becoming more and more popular, awareness and openness to action are also increasing. I am convinced that increasing efficiency in administrative processes will directly translate into building a competitive advantage for the company,” said Michal Golabek, Lean Director from TDJ Group.

Robot onboarding

The digital transformation began with the back office , where activities that are often invisible and crucial for customer service take place. It turned out that many administrative and business tasks can not only be improved and standardised, but also – due to their repeatability – robotised. With the purchasing process in mind, a software review has been launched, which is worth basing robots on.

In choosing the right technology, the help of the implementation partner, Pirxon, which specialises in the production of software for automation and optimisation of business processes, was invaluable. Thanks to this support, the high costs associated with the purchase of the software initially considered by the company were avoided.

“Work on the first robot took place in lockdown conditions, therefore the entire robot on-boarding was carried out remotely, using video solutions and group work tools. The task of IT, in addition to coordinating the project, was also to develop architecture, policies and safety rules for the robot farm under the project,” commented Dawid Wachowiak, CIO TDJ.

“The robot has been dedicated to unproductive and time-consuming works, but necessary in the entire process. The bidding process, preparation of purchase orders (based on the offers and price lists collected by us) and invoice settlement are tasks that we delegated to the robot, and it freed us time that we use effectively,” added Beata Nalepa, Director of Purchasing and Central Logistics at the FAMUR Group.

“Speaking the Lean language, the implementation allowed for an increase in the added value in the process. Each employee dealing with purchases has more time at his disposal for more valuable tasks, such as expanding the supplier base, looking for alternative contractors or negotiating prices. Taking into account that FAMUR's annual budget for purchases oscillates around PLN 1 billion, the benefits obtained as a result of such activities can be as high as 1% become a great value,” stated Marcin Nowak, Lean Director at TDJ. He added that the solution brought the desired effect, and the automation set the direction for further development also in other entities in the Group: “Currently, the adopted solution is being expanded –we would like to have robots to handle purchases in all TDJ portfolio companies. The robot is appreciated not only for relieving some of the company's employees, but also for not making mistakes, working systematically and allowing the organisation to operate faster. It also ensures that inquiries have been sent to all suppliers, as a result of which the company has a full picture of the market and can always choose the best available offer,” Nowak emphasised.

“Robotisation affects many processes in the FAMUR Group,” explained Andrzej Kubiak, Development Director at Pirxon SA. “First of all, it allows you to speed up the implementation of purchases. This has a huge impact on the implementation of projects for the end customer. Looking from the perspective of the entire organisation, the robotisation of the procurement process has become an important link in its competitive advantage.”

“The use of the solution gives users access to the full Microsoft Power Platform ecosystem, i.e. AI, BI, chat bots, etc.,” concluded Hanna Kurek, Dynamics 365 BG Lead at the Polish branch of Microsoft. “Robotisation may also apply to ERP systems that are not based on Microsoft solutions. In addition, Microsoft cloud-based robots can run faster, are more stable and are easier for the customer to ‘click’.”

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