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Cleaveland/Price Lowers Inventory and Improves Customer Service with Preactor International
November 2007

Chuck/Cleaveland obtained the rights to produce renewal parts for Westinghouse switches in 1975. Since then Cleaveland/Price has developed into a major manufacturer of high voltage switches and automation equipment.   Cleaveland/Price is currently located outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a recently expanded 90,000 square foot facility employing over 130 people.

Cleaveland/PriceCleaveland/Price is a make-to-order environment with bills of materials for finished goods typically 8 levels deep. These levels consist of 60,000 parts of which some are shared among multiple assemblies; others are unique components.  The company is organized into two main areas, fabrication and assembly, with various supporting areas. Fabrication has over 80 resource groups comprised of over 100 resources. The functions performed by fabrication are cut-off, machining, punching, and finishing. Assembly contains 6 main assembly lines organized into two groups for automation equipment and switches.

Cleaveland/Price has been experiencing double digit year-to-year growth, and faces all the typical problems of a fast-growth company. The issue of increasing concern for Cleaveland/Price is meeting customer delivery date requirements, while maintaining an efficient workflow and acceptable levels of inventory.

Cleaveland/Price has been utilizing Syspro for years, and the Syspro reseller, who is also a Preactor reseller, ADM Solutions, invited Quinn & Associates to Cleaveland/Price.  Quinn & Associates listened to the issues and made recommendations on how Preactor could solve their problems. The key issue was more efficient sequencing of work orders in the shop. The Preactor 400 APS was the solution of choice since multiple work orders are issued against multiple sales orders and “many to many” pegging would be required. Choosing the P400 turned out to be the wise choice since a rule was required towards the latter stage of the deployment.

At the time of the purchase of the P400 APS, no standard integration existed between Syspro and Preactor. Cleaveland/Price chose to build their own integration.  The development team is led by Carl Heller (Business Systems Analyst) and Rae Sweeney (Controller), working in conjunction with Bob Nicholson (Director of Software Development) of CompuSys Consulting.  Carl is a former IBM employee and joined Cleaveland/Price in 2006. Rae is a veteran employee of Cleaveland/Price with considerable knowledge of the workings of Syspro, who has developed multiple ancillary applications for Syspro with the aid of CompuSys. Carl is the Team Leader and principally responsible for the integration of Syspro and Preactor as well as implementation of the Preactor scheduling from Order Entry thru final product shipment on the shop floor.

As a result of Carl’s thorough understanding of the importance of top-down system design, considerable time was invested in insuring the integration would meet the operational needs of Cleaveland/Price. The extensive design effort, coupled with the challenges presented by the Syspro MRP system, led to a more lengthy deployment cycle with several trial deployments before going live. However, the results were worth it. Improvements for Cleaveland/Price include:

  • Reassessment and improvements to the planning process
  • Purchasing now fully integrated with fabrication
  • Deeper understanding of the interdependency of operational functions
  • Improvements in on-time delivery

According to Carl, these improvements are the result of the advantages of the fully integrated system. The integrated system includes Syspro v6, P400 APS v9.3, and an Access-based order tracking system developed by Cleaveland/Price and CompuSys. Two of the significant functions of the Preactor interface are the storage of secondary constraint information that Syspro does not provide, and a more comprehensive pegging engine to manage the work order/sales order volume from the Syspro system. Preactor provides its own ability to generate pegging data, but Preactor’s capability is intended for order-at-a-time for ad hoc inquiries.

The Preactor system is used to manage two separate models fabrication and assembly, with a development model for system design and testing. In the current implementation, the master scheduler iterates the scheduling solutions to find balance between production goals. The reasons for this configuration are that there are a number of factors that can impact the areas which could not be completely expressed in a scheduling rule.  Given the depth of the BOM and numerous variables to consider, this two model approach enables a workable set of data.   The output of the fabrication model dictates the start of the assembly model creating an integrated two-step process.  
 
Once the basic model had been tested with real data, a scheduling rule was added. This rule, developed by Quinn & Associates for Cleaveland/Price, is a variant of the backwards-forwards heuristic in which orders that cannot be successfully backward scheduled are immediately forward scheduled.

“Cleaveland/Price is yet another example of how not only how combining best of breed solves complex problems,” says Greg Quinn, president of Quinn & Associates, “but also how the open architecture of Preactor enables the end user to tailor Preactor to their specific needs without the obligation to bring in consultants for every minute change as is the case with other scheduling applications.”

According to Carl “The true value of this system is not in any individual component, but in the complete integration of all systems and processes.  The discipline created in the Preactor implementation, eliminates waste, and provides headlights into problems before they effect results.”

Rae adds, “Preactor has assisted us in moving to the next level of our business growth cycle”.