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Preactor Opens the Door to High Quality Customer Service at LIP Bled
December 2007

75% orders have a quantity of 1 or 2 pieces

Company LIP Bled is located near Bled, a world renowned alpine resort, surrounded by the high peaks of Alps and richly forested plateaus. Founded in 1948, today it is one of the largest woods processing companies in Slovenia and the largest exporter in the sector.

Although the company manufactures solid wood furniture and construction panels, the main production is of interior doors (doors and door frames) which have annual production volumes of 300,000 doors and 200,000 door-frames.

lipbled1.pngLIP Bled’s doors are made of different high quality veneers and foils, in modern or classical style, various surface patterns and shaped edges, depending on requirements with special protective and safety characteristics which they supply to customers all over Europe. Since 2004 LIP Bled’s interior door profit-centre has been experiencing a rapid increase of small quantity orders for a variety of products. On average, the company gets 50 orders a day, 75% of which have a quantity of 1 or 2 pieces. Consequently the planning process became too complex to handle efficiently and the company’s planning and scheduling solutions had to be improved or replaced.

The project was initialized early in 2006

Another important goal was also to reduce scheduling tasks, giving the planers time to deal with higher level challenges and interact more efficiently with purchasing, marketing and sales, distribution and other departments.

LIP Bled started to look for scheduling solutions as well as bar-code production data collection in 2005 and found the perfect supplier in INEA, the Preactor regional Network Solution Provider.

lipbled2.pngThe project was initialized early in 2006. LIP Bled’s top management supported the project from the beginning. Two staff from LIP Bled, the logistics manager and ERP KOPA system specialist, and two consultants from INEA were appointed as the core project team and their first task was to analyze the current business and build the ‘As-is’ planning process model. The decision was then made to implement the MES module ‘Production Orders Management’ of i4PROS, which was later implemented as an interface between ERP KOPA, data collected from the shop floor and Preactor.

The customized scheduling algorithm considers several production specifics and 15 product attributes

Because of the complex assembly and the need to schedule with the minimum overall setup/changeover on multiple attributes, Preactor 400 APS was selected as the best version to meet their needs. Early in the analytical phase the project team decided to support planning in one configuration (time fence up to several months) and scheduling in another (time fence up to several weeks).

lipbled3.pngThe planning configuration was built to support order promising (when in the planning horizon the inquired and ordered items can be promised / confirmed). Both configurations were modeled to communicate with the other systems. Information on confirmed orders for the next two weeks in the planning model is passed to the detailed scheduling model.

The scheduling model uses a customized advanced scheduling algorithm which considers several production specifics and 15 product attributes in order to minimize setup times and WIP. The schedule is then used to calculate and optimize safety stock and semi-finished product levels.

The planning process can now take as much as 70 % less time than before

The prototypes of the planning and scheduling solutions were used for several user courses during the project. Users were able to make suggestions and offer additional ideas on how to use Preactor’s scheduling features during the courses. 

The system went live in April 2007 and in 2009, the whole solution was retouched in order to migrate both configurations to Preactor v 10.1., add some new resources and minimize the entire cycle time. All three goals were successfully met. The whole planning process can now take as much as 70 % less time than before, mainly due to new, improved and considerably optimized Preactor v10.1., several configuration changes and some programming skills.

lipbled4.pngThe “Black Box” planning configuration, developed to spare some additional scheduling time is also an important addition to the whole system. The entire planning section is designed to start, finish and give results to ERP system before schedulers even get to work in the morning. If needed, a plan still can be produced “manually”, but given the operation count as high as 27.000, the “Black Box” approach usually makes more sense.

INEA still provides services to LIP Bled in terms of fine-tuning and improvements as adjustments are made to production and ideas emerge, however several project objectives have already been reached. In the future, advanced production planning analytics will be added to support decision making.

Mike Novels, Managing Director of Preactor International commented on the solution. “Smaller batch sizes, increased throughput and tight delivery order promises all contribute to more complex production management. The LIP Bled project team has recognized how smart sequencing of orders can provide high quality customer service while maintaining high production efficiency.”