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Easier Planning for Electrostart with Preactor
May 2015
Electrostart JSCo is the sole Bulgarian manufacturer of magnetic and electronic ballasts, transformers, superimposed pulse ignitors and other components for fluorescent, metal-halide, sodium and mercury vapor lighting appliances. The company was established in 1967 in the city of Varshets with the opening of a ballasts manufacturing plant, still operating today and housing the company’s Headquarters. The plant is equipped with German machinery and operates its production processes under German technology and expertise.

Since 2000, Electrostart JSCo has operated as shareholders’ company with 100% Bulgarian capital. The production process is being constantly modernized and optimized using German technology once again.

Electrostart is a registered trademark in the European Union, in some of the Middle East countries, in North Africa and Russia. Its trademark is well known on the markets of more than 40 countries worldwide. Based on its volume production, the company is among the 5 leading European manufacturers of ballasts.


The client recognized the necessity and the importance of having a planning and scheduling solution for its production as such a solution gives significant competitive advantages. SM Consulta Ltd. was selected to develop the project. The client’s requirements analysis was made on a detailed study of Electrostart industrial processes. The detailed scheduling system - Preactor APS 400 was implemented.

A series of discussions were held with the management team and with the key employees of Electrostart. The basic functionality of Preactor was demonstrated during the planning and production process research work. The detailed scheduling system project Preactor APS had to be integrated with the existing ERP system at Electrostart – Microsoft Dynamics AX. The specific requirements and objectives of creating schedules were set and discussed as a bi-directional integration between Preactor APS and Microsoft Dynamics AX. The integration part of the project was managed by Pretczynski – a Preactor partner in Poland.

The main targets set for the project were the changeover minimization and the automation of the activities for the production planning concept with the repartition of 80:20 (80% of the activities to be automated, and 20% of them to require manual work by the planner).

An important task at the beginning of the project was the re-creation of an Electrostart real production model in Preactor. In addition to the static data from AX, some specific constraints were added, such as the matrix of the changeover time dependencies on operation sequences, the dependency of the performance on packages combination, etc. Transfer Quantities between operations and Batch Quantities were set for minimizing the Work in Process and creating a flexible and effective production planning and scheduling environment.

The next step was a detailed production schedule optimization analysis.

The “Preassembling” sector is identified as the most specific in terms of planning and optimization. There are five production lines, four of them are composed of two sub-lines. Two of the first four lines are automatic, and the rest are semi-automatic. The product packages are the main limitation barrier. The semi-automatic lines are less productive but all product packages can be produced on them. The automatic lines have higher performance but only some product packages can be produced on them.

The Production Package Changes cause the need of a line adjustment. This idle time is significant in the automatic lines and is one of the main objectives for optimization when generating production schedule for the division. Stopping a sleeve for a setup causes stopping/idle time for the second sleeve of the corresponding line as well.

Another “Preassembly” area factor is its dependence on the semi-automatic line productivity. There is a pair of packages produced simultaneously on each of the line sleeves because one machine provides the components for both sleeves of the line. Thereby the productivity of the second sleeve (such as number per hour) is dependent on the package (size) in production at the moment on the first sleeve.

These specific requirements are implemented using Preactor’s Event based scheduling rule with campaigns – first, the Preassembling sector is planned, then all other previous and next sectors are planned based on the already generated sequence in Preassembly. The sequence is based on minimized setups, customer priorities, due dates and some others specific requirements.

The planning process consists of two basic phases – simulation and generation of a real plan. During the first phase, the steps in the planning rule are executed without material constraints as the purpose is provision of actual needs for material delivery to the Purchasing department. During the second phase, the planning is executed with material constraints taking into consideration the already approved material delivery dates.

The preliminary defined inventory buffers between different sectors play an important role in the planning process. The planner also may dynamically trace their loading as well as not overloading defined limits.

A specific add-on to the rule was developed in order to recover the plan based on the reported fulfilment trying to keep the defined operation sequence in a specific horizon, considering the specifics in the Preassembling sector. This method is used when there are no new operations for planning and the purpose is the synchronization of the plan with the real execution in the shop floor.

The final results of the project include 85-90% automation of the activities for production plan creation, 30% changeover optimization, and late order minimization. Better synchronization of deliveries of raw materials with the actual production schedule was achieved. In addition to the short and medium term scheduling solution, additional configuration for long-term planning was developed for budgeting purposes.


‘‘Our production process is very dynamic with highly specific needs. Our main project objective was to optimise the resource sequences, to minimise the changeovers and to maximise the efficiency. The generation of the production schedule has to be automated to a higher extent. Preactor APS solution helps us to find the optimal balance between the changeover optimization and the due date performance. The implementation of Preactor gives us increased visibility for scheduling and planning, the planners can easily see the current load and identify the late orders. In the meantime, we have the capacity to synchronize the delivery of the raw materials, to react to ad-hoc changes in the delivery terms in real time.

The investment in Preactor planning solution is successful as it achieves our goals. We have obtained a number of significant benefits which add value, increases ROI and gives us strong evidence in the strength of planning and scheduling solution software.” 

-dipl.-eng. Anatoli Dimitrov Chief Executive Officer
Chairman of the Board of Directors (shown right)