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Preactor and Segula Provide Scheduling Chic for Designer Furniture Manufacturer
October 2006

Ligne RosetFrom humble beginnings in 1860 manufacturing walking sticks and umbrellas, the company originally founded by Antoine Roset has grown to be a leading manufacturer of high quality furniture and accessories. Ligne Roset, headquartered in Le Bourg, France, now has 1,250 employees located across 6 industrial sites and contains over 50 international representatives. With a renowned reputation for designing and manufacturing furniture that combines design and function, the company has always recognized the pivotal role that cutting edge technology plays in the manufacturing process.  Which is why when it required a state of the art scheduling system, it found the perfect fit with Preactor from Segula Conseil Industriel.

Like many manufacturers with a large product range, Ligne Roset faces typical scheduling problems including bottlenecking of resources, lack of order visibility, and the need to adapt to changes in orders at short notice. However, the diversity of products manufactured complicate this yet further as the company manufactures sofas, seats, tables, table bases, beds, mattresses, carpets and accessories. In order to facilitate this diversity, the company has organized its work flow into 5 main stages.

The first stage is the Cutting stage which comprises 3 single unit cutting machines and 2 multi-piece cutting machines. Next is Woodworking which itself, contains a wide range of resources including 20 woodwork machines, various finishing and assembly engines, and a cabinet making/assembly area. This is followed by the Pegging area with 30 people working here in differing shift patterns which in turn is followed by the Sewing area in which pools of operators are created on a flexible basis and linked to a given task group. The final stage is the Tapestry stage where 40 tapestry makers are categorized into either the chair group or the seat group.

Ligne Roset had already invested in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and was running BAAN across its sites. In spite of the benefits this brought, the company was still faced with some major scheduling difficulties, most of which stemmed from the very large number of possible operations involved, upwards of 60,000. This constraint forced Ligne Roset to create two types of scheduling; a weekly scheduling run every Sunday night, working with the whole production plan; and a daily scheduling run every night, limited to the most urgent orders, typically involving 20,000 operations. Every day, some orders that are already scheduled in the daily plan is integrated into the weekly scheduling.

Defining what should be considered as primary resources was also a big challenge for the company. Depending on departments, several types of resources were defined: The first of these, machines, were defined as having finite capacity, with Centres being groups of machines where the limitations were the sizes of the pool of operators. Other resources included People, a physical person linked to a code (and not a name); Task, a specific operation limited by a specialized pool of operators; Task groups: several similar tasks limited by a specialized pool of operators. There was also recognition that some resources did not provide constraints and worked in an infinite capacity basis. In addition to defining resources, Ligne Roset also identified that grouping rules were very important in the way of scheduling, in terms of grouping by project, by batching group or by department.

Clearly any automated scheduling system would have to overcome these challenges but Ligne Roset also drew up a list of additional aims that any new system would have to achieve. These included:-

  • the need to reduce administrative work to build schedules;
  • to be able to anticipate heavy demand in a specific department (to set operator calendars);
  • to realize several simulations in order to optimize opening hours;
  • to improve the workload of equipment and operators and to manage automatically the real constraints.

The system also needed to reduce work order lead time and to control the work in progress between stamping machines and surfacing.

After a thorough investigation of possible solutions, Ligne Roset decided to invest in a Preactor 400 APS system from Preactor reseller, Segula Conseil Industriel. Preactor was chosen primarily for its ability to use customized sequencing rules and for its ability to deal with the volume of operations.

The implementation of this project comprised the following 5 steps:-

  1. Detailed analysis;
  2. Prototype development;
  3. Prototype Implementation and training;
  4. Prototype test by Roset’s users, with adjustments and simultaneous development with the Segula team;
  5. Final delivery of the completed project. 

The implementation was primarily achieved by a small team of 2 or 3 people (including Roset and Segula’s staff) which provided a strong sense of teamwork and deep understanding. Users were deliberately excluded from involvement in the early stages of the implementation because the strategy included the introduction of the main system functionalities of the solution to the end users after each step of development.

Ligne Roset has already seen significant benefits from the Preactor implementation. Most notable has been the appreciably improvement in service rate (up to 90%) with a target rate of 95% for the year. In terms of production flow, the company has improved the quality of material and information flows between departments which has greatly helped work centre managers to decide what to do about capacity on a weekly basis. There is also much improved visibility and the ability to react to production issues arising from lateness of materials by suppliers.

In conclusion, Ligne Roset has been very satisfied with the Preactor solution, and with the quality of service provided by Segula Conseil Industriel, especially in their ability to respond to modification requests to the system.

Mike Novels, Managing Director of Preactor International, commented on the application.  “This is another good application in the woodworking and furniture sector which appears to be having an increasing interest and awareness of the benefits of APS in a fast moving, demand driven environment.  It has also clearly enabled the existing ERP system, BAAN, to provide a better overall solution for their client”.