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KLL improves delivery by scheduling with Preactor APS
June 2013
KLL started producing suspensions and mechanical components for commercial vehicles 25 years ago. Its factory is located at Alvorada’s Industrial District, near Porto Alegre (RS/Brazil), where a team composed of 250 people develops suspensions using advanced technology. 

KLL’s leading position in the market is the result of a rigorous quality control, with modern production equipment and a highly qualified and constantly improved labor.

Another distinction of the company is the technology agreement firmed on the year 2000 with the Hendrickson International, expanding their range with a whole new set of cutting edge products.

The Challenge
KLL’s growth in the Brazilian automotive market increases their demand for flexibility and professionalization of production management. Manufacturing management’s evolution, such as with the implementation of ERP, has revealed the complexity involved in the planning and scheduling process at KLL’s production lines. The many variations of their products’ structures, the high number of operations on their production routines and highly complex material management and cutting plans are some of the characteristics that delineate the production program.

On the first approach to improve PCP’s production programming with a dedicated tool, the company invested on an ERP based solution for the machine-load analysis. This initiative soon encountered many difficulties, mainly in the impossibility of obtaining a finite production scheduling, with a clear view of material restrictions, capacity and tools involved on the production process.  Without an adequate resource planning, the company continued facing problems such as delay on deliveries, lack of materials and, specially, the high work in progress stock values, generated by the lack of synchronism between different schedules and the inexistence of the management of products resulting from metal sheet’s cutting plans.

These limitations motivated KLL in searching with ACCERA a solution capable of supporting PCP’s work and improving the production line’s operational performance, generating feasible schedules and making comparisons between different scenarios. In order to meet this challenge, Preactor 400 APS was implemented at KLL alongside two other important projects for the company: the implementation of a WMS system and a logistics reformulation that radically changed the way of stock and material transportation at the factory floor.

The Solution
Products manufactured by KLL have complex structures that may have twelve levels of hierarchy, going from the cutting of blanks until the final assembly, generating a material list with about 11500 relations. Furthermore, the company has more than 20000 active SKU’s and manufacturing routines can be composed of thirty operations, which shows the real complexity of the of the scheduling process and the need of a project with consistent consultancy work in order to review and improve KLL’s PCP area using a software that could scheduling quickly and conveniently in this kind of scenario.

With the implementation of Preactor all of the scheduling processes of materials and production was reviewed so that the best possible use of production capacity could be achieved. From Preactor’s scheduling – ignoring arrival dates of materials – a purchase order exception report is generated, listing items which arrival dates could restrict industrial capacity. With this information, PCP and Purchases departments meet weekly, to refine material supply, providing the greatest number of arrivals resulting in the best production scheduling possible.

After the meeting, PCP adjusts the scheduling, analyzing different scenarios and generating a firm schedule for the week. This way the factory always works with a feasible and consistent scheduling which can be monitored by electronic screens spread strategically around different departments that are integrated with the scheduling sent by Preactor to the ERP system.

Along with the production complexity, high work in progress stock levels, resulting from cutting plans generated by the ERP, are considered a critical factor by the managers. The necessity of obtaining efficient use of the blanks forces the production of many semi-finished parts, which not necessarily will be requested by other processes in a short amount of time, increasing considerably the work in progress stock at the factory floor.

One of the objectives of the Project was to make it possible to dynamically analyze the impact of the generated stock based on different schedules, so that it can be minimized. In order to allow the capability, the generated SKUs after those operations are treated as restrictions in Preactor. In the system, cutting operations adds units of the respective restrictions, while upcoming operations consume them. This way, programmers can analyze graphically the impact of the scheduling scenario on the work in progress’ stock levels.

The Results
The existence of a standardized scheduling workflow resulted in a great improvement in communication between departments, lowering the stress inherent to a productive system as complex as KLL’s. Furthermore, it has also become evident that there has been a reduction in the time spent scheduling production lines, which previously were done using many individual Microsoft Excel sheets.

Logistics Manager Israel Lorenzini comments, "The synchronization between schedules and a better communication among different company areas are evident benefits of the Preactor’s implementation."

A clear view of material relations and operations provided by Preactor permits PCP easily identify factory bottlenecks and act quickly on the solution of casual capacity problems, in addition to enabling advances in some supply dates in order to better utilize factory capacity, based on the foresight of delays and lack of materials.

Preactor’s secondary constraints graphics also supports stock management of items resulting from metal sheet’s cutting plans. Graphical analysis provides total visibility of work in progress volume and is gradually promoting a dynamic collaboration between production and engineering areas on the factory floor in order to further reduce work in progress materials.

Another noticeable improvement was a better communication between PCP and industrial production’s supervisors, that being a consequence of scheduling sharing on the electronic screens spread along the factory, providing a clear and updated view of the scheduling, contributing to a better synchronization between operations and to the achievement of the strategically goals of the company.

KLL is in a complex evolution and organizational learning process, to which is necessary a gradual management professionalization on the company’s culture. The company expects even better organizational results from all tools implemented and process’ changes executed, and the performance improvements provided by Preactor indicates it is on the right path.

"The high complexity of four production processes, in which items can have up to twelve structure levels and thirty operations on the factory floor, demands the use of an excellent scheduling tool; That is why we chose Preactor," says Lorenzini.