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Preactor’s Contribution More Than Simply Cosmetic
May 2001

decorpart01.jpgA Preactor scheduling tool has begun playing a major role in the manufacturing operation of the world’s leading supplier of anodized aluminum parts to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.  The Preactor system has brought a range of cost and efficiency benefits, including reduced stockholding volumes and increased accuracy and visibility for scheduling. Decorpart of Nelson, Lancashire, UK manufactures anodized aluminum pump and dispenser components for a wide range of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, such as deodorant aerosols, inhalers for asthma sufferers and lipstick sleeves.   The company’s parts portfolio numbers some 1,000 different products, in a choice of 142 different colours. Around 12 to 13 million parts are manufactured each week, of which 60-65% are exported. Handling such a substantial throughput keeps 250 staff employed on a 3-shift basis, including weekends.

"The Preactor FCS system was installed as a bolt-on addition to an existing planning package," explains Steve Parker, at Decorpart. "We chose Preactor because it’s suitable for a big product library such as ours. Also it’s very flexible - you can do most of the configuring yourself, making it do what you want it to do, rather than keep going back to a consultant for help. Everyone here’s very impressed."

There are three distinct manufacturing areas at Decorpart: the aluminum presses, the cleaning processes and the anodizing operations. To date, Preactor is being used only in the pressing area, where it helps schedule 53 pressing resources.

"Scheduling these 53 presses, which all have different capabilities, is a major challenge" continues Steve Parker. For example, between them they are responsible for generating and meeting some 500 individual sales orders - which means there’s a constant requirement for the presses to be re-set and for materials to be scheduled accordingly."

The company plans in time to extend the use of Preactor to all three areas. However, a recent reorganisation whereby the business was split into Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals, with separate profit centers, has made management decide to delay total ‘Preactorisation’ until staff have grown accustomed to the revised ways of doing things.

In the meantime, Preactor is making a very important contribution to what is an extremely complex manufacturing operation. "We are able to schedule stock volumes far more accurately now," says Steve Parker. "We used to keep 250 tons of aluminum in stock, but now only keep 150 tons. At £3,000 per ton, that’s a substantial saving of £300,000!"

Future development plans include the installation of more Preactor Viewers on the shopfloor. Preactor Viewers are inexpensive systems which are suitable for communicating with other Preactors, allowing ‘Work to’ lists to be created and ‘What if’ scenarios to be explored.
Steve Parker concludes, "Thanks to better scheduling, our service levels have also improved from 30% to 80%. The challenge now is to go from 80% to 100%!"