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Flexoprint uses Preactor and MES to enhance agility and productivity
May 2012
Flexoprint productsTo grow in a very dynamic and competitive market as the labels and tags industry in Brazil, Flexoprint invests not only in the latest equipment, but also in a modern management system, which provides security, reliability, traceability of processes and especially agility in customer service.

Flexoprint deployed Preactor 400 in the context of a MES project to optimize the production schedule reducing setups and delays, to track production and monitor productivity in real time, and to ensure that the production plan and execution on the factory floor is synchronized.

Located in Marialva, Paraná, in the south of Brazil, The Flexoprint Company was founded in 1997 and has been manufacturing labels since 2000. It is considered one of the most comprehensive suppliers in the labeling market, holding a wide variety of products such as labels and tags with or without adhesive, molded sleeves, as well as mono and laminated films in small or medium batch sizes.

Flexoprint provides its products to multiple markets such as Beverage, Hygiene and Cleaning, Foods, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, the Pet Market, Chemicals and Automotive.

The production strategy is mainly MTO (Make To Order) planning with a wide range of SKU's (Stock Keeping Unit).

There were a number of specific pain points and characteristics in the Flexoprint production process that required improvement.
  1. There was no standard process to generate the detailed production schedule, with clear rules for production and on time delivery optimization;
  2. There was no fast and reliable planning process to involve the commercial area in the priority decisions;
  3. In the production process, besides the restrictions of production equipment, there were others resources that were constraints due to the limited availability of supply such as knives and cylinders that could not be easily controlled manually;
  4. An important point in the process that needed optimization was the huge number combinations which impacted the setup time which was dependent upon several variables such as product, cylinders and knives changeovers;
  5. With about 800 orders per week and 3,000 operations in total to schedule and control, this was a very time consuming task to carry out  manually;
  6. There was a need for a system for quick and reliable control of the following information/activities: traceability, finished goods control, yield, productivity, setup times, downtimes, on time information and a tool to build statistical reports.
flexoprint paper"There was a huge difficulty in building and promptly updating the production schedule because the process was manual and very slow, requiring many reworks" commented the planning analyst Douglas Armelin.

To deal with the needs of the application, Flexoprint purchased from PPI-Multitask (a Preactor Solution Provider based in São Paulo) the Preactor 400 APS embedded in the PC-Factory MES solution and its implementation involving the PPC (Planning and Production Control) team.

Starting from the fact that the “printing operation” is the bottleneck and sets the pace of the process, they focused on actions to improve this process based on:
  • Setup time reduction with the assignment of setup time by products changeovers, combined with the changeovers of attributes for the cylinders and knives that compete in the optimization of the setup of printers.
  • Identification and creation of calendars of secondary resources required in the “printing operation” in order to consider the restrictions mapped to the correct setting of the sequence.

But there was still missing an integrated mechanism for updating the PPCP scenario and the ERP from ABC71. To cover this, the PC-Factory MES (Manufacturing Execution System), a PPI-Multitask solution, is used to provide a fast update of production order status and pass data to Preactor for re-scheduling.

Besides allowing better visualization from the "queue" of Production Orders for the planner it is also used as the basis for monitoring the status of customer orders in the Commercial department.  A single report was developed and shared so that the information from the Production Area was the same as for the Commercial Area.

Conclusion
Preactor's ability to perform the fast and efficient sequencing of production orders and well integrated with other systems (PC-Factory MES and ABC71 ERP) has enabled the optimization of the productive capacity of the major production resources and improved Flexoprint´s customer service level.

Planning that regards the availability of cylinders and knives has reduced the time wasted due to shortages, increasing the yield of the Printers substantially and giving more flexibility to react to changes in demand and capacity.

With Preactor it is possible to have a quick overview of the utilization level of the shop floor and a fast answer in ascertaining the ability to meet the required delivery dates, allowing great flexibility to be agile and in meeting the customers’ requirements even at short notice. In addition, Preactor shows which scenario is the best to balance the shop floor.

“Currently the PC-Factory MES collects on time information from the shop floor and I´m able to view statistical information of production confirmations, productivity, yield, waste, setup times, traceability, etc. All this information helps me to adjust Preactor in a better way, regarding the non-planned break downs and the yield of each resource” said Danilo Nápolis, Production Analyst”.


"Today using Preactor 400 APS we have a complete view of all Production Orders with total integration between our systems," says Doulgas Armelin.

Mr. Laércio (Lesso) Stange Warmeling is CEO of Flexoprint.  "Using Preactor it is possible to have a fast overview of the factory utilization and a quick answer to the question of achievable delivery dates of customer orders.  The ROI was obtained in 1 year after the stabilization of the system and now I feel we can improve the usage of the Preactor even more and further increase the actual results we have achieved.”

Next Step
The next step of Production Scheduling for Flexoprint will be the implementation of the SMC (Standard Material Control) feature of Preactor which will confirm the stock allocations of components required to manufacture, but also provide information for activities that need to be done in advance such as outside setup, material separation, and color matching, integrated with PC-Factory MES work in process management.