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Cebrace reduces lead time by 50% with Preactor APS
May 2015
Cebrace is the result of a joint-venture between two of the major groups producers of flat glass of the world: Saint-Gobain (France) and NSG (Japan), which acquired Pilkington in 2006. Founded in 1974, Cebrace gathers in its manufacturing process the know-how and technology of two giants of the glass sector. This puts it in the position of a leading company in the Brazilian market of the flat glass segment.

The first company of the glass sector to be founder member of the Green Building Council Brazil (GCCB), Cebrace has a commitment with the preservation of the planet and future generations; not only investing in sustainable products development, but constantly searching low environmental impact solutions in its productive processes.
With production capacity of 3,600 tons/day, Cebrace has five plants: three in Jacareí (SP), one in Caçapava (SP) and one in Barra Velha (SC), which produce the most complete range of products, used in civil construction, in automotive industry, household appliances, furniture and decoration. Cebrace´s manufacturing orientation uses both make-to-stock and make-to-order strategies.

The Challenge
Since 2009, the Brazilian float glass market is experiencing a significant growth in overall manufacturing capacity, due to the entrance of some new players in the country and investments on machinery refurbishment and process improvement. Because of this concurrent growth, the companies in this market are forced to invest in new technologies which allows them improve productivity using the same shop floor capacity.

The glass and mirrors supply chain process starts with the high quality float glass production. All remaining manufacturing processes are made from the float glass as it is the main raw material for them, added by other specific materials.

The lamination process put together two float glass plates or even one float with one coated glass plate, joined by a hot plastic material (PVB) between them. After that, the new glass goes to an autoclave in which the air remaining between the glasses is removed completely.  The Coater process uses only one float glass as raw material in which is applied some coater dusts in the surface to get into the final product properties. The mirror process next goes through a washing line and then application of chemical products on the surface and then it goes to a silvering process. At the end, the glass is dried, painted and inspected.

Associated with this dependent relationship of production processes was also the current model of Production Planning used by the Company. The supply and production plans have always been done manually on spreadsheets with a stand-alone scheduling method for each production line and based on a static scenario consumption, production and delivery. Due to the complexity of inter -relationships between the float lines and earned-value lines (lamination, mirror and coater), some planning problems used to be regular, such as unavailability of raw material (internal supply), high lead-times, excessive amounts of setups and delays in re-scheduling.

In this scenario of steady growth and new challenges, Cebrace decided it was time to invest in a solution that supports the whole process of production planning, scheduling and control, in a modular standard, automating production lines through the schedule in their shop floor units. To do so, the company organized a qualified committee to investigate the information technology market a solution that would meet their expectations. After assessing the options available with a detailed analysis, the Company decided to hire ACCERA to deploy an integrated solution to automate the Production Planning and Scheduling process with Preactor APS.

The Solution
Cebrace produces over then 1,300 SKUs (stock keeping unit) among their many manufacturing lines. The Preactor APS implementation has been done on two steps, the first for the lamination process and the second for two lines with different configurations, which are the Coater and Mirror processes. Both projects have been managed successfully with delivery on time.

Preactor APS integrates with Cebrace´s ERP, SAP, as a foundation for the project. To meet the system modularity requirement, one of the strengths of this solution is the creation of a unique data input filter pointed to the key shop floor information, this way any factoring must be configured into the software database quickly and easily. The information of manufacturing routings, production times, product families, bill of materials (BoMs) and demands are automatically loaded for Preactor from a data connector developed by Cebrace. The order generator developed by ACCERA is another strong point of the solution, since it is a customization 100% adherent to Cebrace´s process, with the distinction of generating grouping lots to close glass storage racks, priorities calculation based on the finite capacity versus global demand, and order creation to meet demand across shop floor units. Preactor APS  generates these production orders and automatically sends them to SAP.

The finite capacity scheduling proposed by Preactor APS is Make-to-Order, working across multiple, maximum and minimum lots consolidation and outsourcing logic. It also produces to a Make-to-Stock strategy, considering net requirements, minimum and maximum batches aggregation and minimum, maximum and ideal stock levels. Finally, there is the compliance with internal orders (Make-to-Assembly) from the Coater Shop to the Laminated Products Shop, considering production yield, delivery buffer and the wide view of the inventory level (work-in-process and finished goods).

Integration between those configurations and the special use of consumption rules ensure perfect synchronization between the shops, allowed by correctly and fully pegging from the availability of Coater glasses to the lamination production orders. This integrated process also provided full visibility and control of production and transport times, allowing work-in-process inventory with simple and quick analysis through the manufacturing process and the decrease of scheduling disruption.

The Preferred Sequence Rule on these Preactor APS configurations performs the prioritization by attribute fields such as product families, thickness, height and types of raw material, ensuring a higher performance scheduling. Thus, the schedule result complies with the company strategic goals such as amounts of setups reduction, lead-time minimization and financial result maximization.

The Results
The implementation of these three applications in production scheduling process granted positive results rather quickly. The first result observed was the shop floor overall visibility allowed by the integration on the system, thus synchronizing the processes. The shortage of materials analysis through visual display on the Gantt chart and the use of a customized report created by the project team, allowed the prevention of production disruptions and wide visibility between plants.

Other significant results were the possibility of scenario simulation to aid in Operational and Strategic Decision Making process, and in addition, the prioritization analysis to different Make-to-Order, Make-to-Stock and Internal Service policies.

Regarding Laminated Products’ customer service, the most significant result of the implementation was lead-time reduction by 50%, from 50-60 days to 20-30 days.

The number of setups performed in Cebrace´s machines was reduced by 20% after the implementation, mainly because scheduling considers the preferred sequence rule to minimize setup.

The scheduling synchronization between shops and the visibility provided by the system reduced the number of re-scheduling times and minimized stress between sales and operations. According to João Fausto, Logistics Manager, “Nowdays it is possible to envisage a period of 10 to 15 days of planning and scheduling, with few changes in this time bucket, while the old scheduling process used to be done with a few days term”. The time spent by the scheduler went from 2 days to only about 1 hour.

“Reducing Lead Time for Laminated Products was the main earning in terms of customer services improvement. Another key result was the reduction of the amounts of setup. Nowadays, after Preactor implementation, we perform 20% less setup in earned-value lines.”says João Fausto , Logistics Manager at CEBRACE.

The customized order generator allowed the Planning Department to reduce the time spent for creating orders in SAP, where before it was done manually. These time savings in operational processes and re-scheduling activities are directly converted into more precise scenarios analysis, with these processes becoming increasingly more strategic for the organization.

The current expectation is for the implementation of Preactor APS in Float and Cut Glass factories, which will increase the accuracy on internal supply orders scheduling. To enhance the scheduling period and give more stability to the process, the next step will be the implementation of the Accera Forecaster solution. Furthermore, the idea is to expand the whole solution to other Cebrace´s companies in South America, thus promoting further earnings for the business.