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INFLEX redesigns PCP process and improves delivery rates with Preactor
June 2013
Located on an 6500m² area in the city Dourados, on Mato Grosso do Sul state, Inflex stands out on Brazilian market for its flexible packaging production, operating on many sectors. The company started its activities in 1989, having a scope of producing polyethylene monolayer plastic packages, and today its production volume amounts to around 390 tons per month in 2012.

The continuous search for better quality in its processes marks the company’s strategy. In 2002, Inflex implemented, as a pioneer in Mato Grosso do Sul, a 3 layer co-extrusion process. The appreciation for differentiated technologies also made the company introduce in its portfolio the production of laminated packages and 8 color printing.

ISO 9001:2000 Certification, achieved in 2005, shows the company’s commitment to the satisfaction of its clients and more than 200 employees.

The Challenge
As time passed and Inflex’s participation in the Brazilian market grew, it was noted that its commercial performance was below expectations. Delivery promises and Delivery dates were the most affected indicators, which generated conflicts between commercial and production areas. The lack of visibility of the production scheduling devised by the PCP area also contributed to the use of imprecise commercial policies.

The PCP department scheduled the production empirically, using electronic sheets and analysis made by managers and programmers. The low detail level of information, the inflexibility to adjust schedules and the lack of visibility of the production schedule as a whole did not serve the needs of the company while operating on a constantly changing environment such as the flexible packaging market.

Despite having few operations in its production process, Inflex had its greatest complexity centered on information flow and on the sync between different operations. Besides improvements related to the production process, it also diagnosed the need to generate a better integration between the commercial, production, PCP, supplies and logistics areas, aiming to share data more efficiently.

Another process that also drew attention for its significant impact on production process and for its inefficiency was the cliche processing. At the arrival of a new production order, an art (a mold used for printing process) developing solicitation is sent to a cliche supplier. This supplier then devises the art and validates it with the client for approval. This process was disorganized in relation to the visibility of the possible impacts that a delay on the cliché delivery by the supplier or on the approval of the art by the client could cause on Inflex’s production process.

With this scenario at hand, Inflex realized that it needed a tool capable of providing a clear production process view of the PCP area, a tool that also that provided agility and precision to deal with frequent schedule changes and, besides all that, also collaborated on the planning of auxiliary process such as material purchases, production management and the cliche process, generating all the information necessary to decision making.

The Solution
After identifying the need of having a tool that would improve production management, Inflex looked in the market   companies that could offer a robust solution for its production processes, in combination with a qualified and renowned consultancy service. On this search, Inflex had found Preactor software and ACCERA, one of the main global Preactor International partners with references in advanced production scheduling project’s implementation.

After some meetings and demonstrations, ACCERA was hired to implement Preactor systems and be responsible for consultancy services in order to reorganize PCP processes in Inflex. A wide analysis of Inflex’s needs has shown that Preactor’s FCS 300 version would be ideal to Inflex – which could evolve to APS 400 later on.

The project started with a detailed study of all Inflex’s productive processes, which has as a commercial policy the production oriented to orders, Make-to-Order. Characteristics at each stage and resources were mapped, generating software requirements, such as setup times for exchange in attributes, relations and synchronism between different operations, the use of specific tools as secondary constraints, raw material arrival dates and cliche availability dates as earlier start dates that restrain production process.

With the complete background check on the requirements needed to change PCP processes and all the data required to the implementation and use of Preactor, different work fronts  were directed, both evolving in their tasks in parallel so that the new process was implemented, as described below:
  •  Technology: Focused work with Inflex’s IT (Information Technologies) team, making adjustments on the ERP system and registering new data in more complete formats, more suitable to the industrial reality;
  • Methods and Processes: Focused work with the production, IT and PCP areas, in order to adapt present processes to the newly defined processes;
  • Data: Work made together with PCP area, updating scripts and ERP product structures.

At this stage, development and adequacies were fundamental to the integrated work between ACCERA consultancy team and Inflex’s professionals involved on this project. The synergy between both parts made the project flow with the speed and quality needed and made possible its realization on schedule.
Among the primary altered processes, the cliche process is highlighted. A remodeling of the process has allowed cliche needs to be directed to the cliche area after an analysis made by PCP, based on scheduling provided by Preactor. Thus, information flow between areas had become transparent and efficient, also allowing in advance a clear view of the impact of rescheduling deliveries caused by supplier or client delays.

The Results
With Preactor implementation, Inflex has obtained a better view of its productive process, making it more efficient, an assertive and mature PCP analysis, affecting directly the decision making.

“The relative importance of the PCP area has risen, including in relation to commercial and productive managers, on which the main focus is the agility to respond and assertively position other sectors about work in process, due dates, orders that have not started, new placements, among others”, points out César Scheide, Administrative Manager of Inflex.

In parallel to Preactor’s implementation and the adjustments resultant of the project, the administrative area of Inflex has adopted many joint improvements between processes and management. The meeting of these efforts has brought a reduction of about 43% of delivery delays in comparison to the year before. Another relevant point to consider was the increase of 15% in production volumes, also in comparison to the year before the project.

Nowadays, Inflex keeps improving its production process, consolidating the use of Preactor and the integration of PCP and other areas. Logistics planning, for example, is currently working on enhancements on the load assemblies and also considering client’s delivery dates information on scheduling. Such system allows final production dates take into account the transportation time to the client, making scheduling even more precise.

Having achieved maturity in the use of Preactor, a migration to APS 400 shall be made, addressing scheduling rules and material control, supporting Inflex even more in the search of its strategical objective of being known by its clients as the best company manufacturer and supplier of flexible packaging.