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LIV Plastika Synchronise Moulding and Assembly Processes
February 2005

LIV PlastikaThe beginnings of company Liv Postojna date back to 1954, when a small workshop was founded to manufacture different steel products. Today they function as a joint-stock company and with four of their affiliate companies they are form LIV Plastika d.o.o. which is the largest of them with a modern organization and high technology standards. Located in Postojna, Slovenia, the company has 340 employees and a 40 million Euro turnover.

The company’s product range includes dust vacuum cleaners, toilet flush tanks, plastic air traps, dry-installation elements and thermoplastic component parts for the automotive and other industries. The company operates in accordance with the requirements of the international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Vision, motivation and e-business orientation founded on Preactor
The vision of LIV Pastika is to grow to become one of the leading European sanitary equipment suppliers, an acknowledged developer and supplier of thermoplastic component parts for the automotive and other industries and an acknowledged supplier of cleaning machines for rooms. Along with the technological development, these goals could be reached by using smart  strategic information system planning. Competitive conditions and pressures on global market are forcing the company to search for strategies for streamlining the entire value chain.

LIV Plastika is using the Baan ERP system and an in-house developed MES system. To get more from their existing applications, especially to empower their planning department, they decided at the end of 2003 to introduce solutions provided by Preactor International. The redesign of the planning process and integration of Preactor between Baan and the MES modules they entrusted to INEA d.o.o, a Preactor reseller based in Slovenia.

Technological and organisational characteristics
LIV Plastika has four production departments. The injection moulding department feeds three assembly areas. The company’s product range is divided into four planning areas (for four planners). Many final products have deep BoM structures. Many different parts have a common granular plastic material but with different colour pigments are added.

The injection moulding department is considered the most important. It consists of 66 automated work centres each of which can make a variety of parts though not all can make all parts. For each moulding operation a resource group is defined to establish which resources can process each part. Additional constraints include moulding tools, setters and operators of the moulding machines. A pre-moulding process, drying of raw materials in silos is also required to be taken into account.

In some cases several tools are available for the same part moulding but require different technological process variants, so additional information (specific resource group, set up, process time) is required depending on the tool selected. Several tools are designed to mould two or three different parts at a time. This is done by allowing multiple orders to be processed on the machine at the same time.

Each assembly department assemble sub-assemblies and parts into the final product. They consume moulded parts and sub-assemblies, purchased items and sub-contracted parts from stock. The model has primary resources set up as the packing lines, some of which are highly dedicated and automated. Others are less specialised and can handle a variety of assembly processes at the same time. This is modelled using infinite capacity resources with secondarily constraints that control the maximum number of different assemblies at any one time.

Managing the production of parts and the consumption of stock items is the biggest organisational challenge in the assembly departments, where planners need to be able to have an up to date picture of stock levels.

Planning process, architecture and configuration

Planning process, architecture and configuration
The planning process starts by exporting data from Baan to Preactor covering actual orders up to two months ahead. The quantity, due date and earliest start date for each production order as well as the technological and BoM data are exported from business level planning (supported by MRP II). The injection moulding department planner then uses Preactor APS to schedule (mainly backward sequencing) the operations for the whole factory. When all of the operations are scheduled, the planner then sends the schedule to the three assembly planning areas, as well as the purchasing and sales department. After final optimisation (considering availability of dryers, colour sequencing, unexpected events), he releases the schedule for the next day to the injection moulding department.

Each assembly planning area uses a Preactor 200 FCS system. Separate systems are possible without conflicting resource allocation because no resource exists in more than one assembly planning area. The planner (after receiving a message) imports the new assembly plan, checks it and sends it to the production. Data about actual quantity for each operation are exported back to the Preactor APS system on request.

The purchasing and sales department use Preactor Viewers.  In the purchase department, purchase orders are checked with data supplied by the Preactor 400 APS system.  In the sales department,sales orders are compared with data received from Preactor 400 APS to check if orders will be available at the promised delivery date. The integrated system has been configured to turn around the whole process of production planning at least three times per day.

The project was carried out with 2 people from INEA and 3 from LIV Plastika. Occasionally, of course, there were several more people involved. The project took one year to complete from initial concept to ‘go live’ in January 2005.

Progress and the Future
Stanislav Kaluza, the Project Manager, commented on the success of the project: “Our production scheduling methodology had to change if we wanted to turn around our assets quicker. Preactor’s capabilities led us towards a shift in organizational restructuring in the context of globalisation. Preactor was, in the words of Davenport and Short, a facilitator for the renovation of previous planning process and an enabler to master the new process in the most effective way.”

Alen Defranceski, Planning Manager: “Automation of production planning considering all relevant production and organisational specifics, and visualised plan enables us to provide a fast response to unexpected events, whether on the sales market or in our production. We have already reached some positive movements in KPI’s, especially in lower inventory values. In the near future, we are designing a strategy to remove all the non value-added activities from the process of planning.”
Zoran Trost, Managing Director: “Before the project had started, we set high expectations on measurable benefits within one year period after the system became operative. So far I can say that the planners, the key users, have accepted Preactor and things are going well.”

And the future?   Having completed this first stage, it is not the end of the story. The next steps towards e-business will include still higher levels of automation of planning procedures, shorter performance times and further improvement of planning data quality, all with the purpose of getting the leanest production. Integration of logistic, production and business intelligence systems is required to make real time decisions of what, when and who to produce for. Also suppliers should be more involved in making LIV Plastika’s delivery promises.  This may be an opportunity to use Preactor’s Supply Chain Scheduling capability in the future.