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Preactor has Scheduling Taped in the Europe, USA and Asia
July 2003

Founded in 1911, P P Payne is recognised globally as the leading manufacturer and supplier of pressure-sensitive tear tape to producers of consumable products.  The company has manufacturing facilities in the UK, the US, South America, India and the Middle East, with the UK facility alone responsible for an output of 4.5 million square metres per month.With a commitment to innovation and quality, P P Payne continually looks to anticipate the changing market needs of its customers and manufacture accordingly.  When this put unbearable pressure on its planning and scheduling capabilities, the company looked to Preactor International to provide the tools it needed.

The nature of P P Payne’s manufacturing is comparatively straightforward.  After an optional printing stage involving a brand new, state of the art 4 colour printing press, all tape receives its appropriate coating.  This coated tape is then subject to a primary slitting process whereby it is cut and separated onto a host of smaller spools.  If not despatched to one of its partner plants at this stage, these spools are then loaded onto the secondary slitters that cut the tape into its required finished size.  This is then packaged and despatched.

Despite this relative simplicity, significant planning issues exist.  The single coating station is a major candidate for a production bottleneck, as are the availability of the primary and secondary slitters.  Moreover, these slitters have significantly different set-up and changeover times, depending on the spool size used which is determined by length of the production run and the physical size of the finished product – anywhere between 1.6 and 15 mm.  High priority jobs or machine failure have the potential to seriously disrupt any sense of optimisation. 

Steven Leese is Planning Manager for P P Payne, having joined the company as Assistant Planner 5 years ago.  He recalls how things used to be prior to Preactor, “Planning was a manual operation that relied solely on the planner to determine the capacity and utilisation using a mounted planning board with cards and was very approximate.”   

This system was operated in conjunction with a rudimentary production control system that relied entirely on user interrogation to deliver appropriate information.  This then had to be printed off manually.  The combination of the two created significant problems.  Foremost of these were the time and cost consequences of essentially having to double-handle each job.  Accuracy was also highly variable, as jobs could be lost when the pieces of card would fall off the calendar, or duplicated.  Comparing the actual progress of jobs against the plan was now lost consequently affecting the company’s ability to provide accurate due dates and to then deliver accordingly.

A trend towards more customised orders and increasing demand from customers for shorter production times contributed to the decision made in early 1999 to purchase a stand-alone Preactor system.  One of the first impressions Steven had of the system was its ease of use, and the simplicity of its implementation.  “A lot of manufacturing IT systems require specialist implementation services which can cost as much as the software, if not more.  With Preactor, Mark Palmer, the Planning Manager at the time, now Operations Director, sat down with the aid of the user manual, and within a couple of months had all the parameters and the initial database set up.”  Every person who would use the system was also trained in how to use it within this time.

The lack of functionality of the previous system meant that Preactor was used in a stand-alone mode with the actual jobs still manually pulled off the Foreman system before being entered into Preactor.  Despite this, several benefits were immediately liberated.  “For the first time ever, we now could see a rough cut capacity plan of demand through the entire system.  This itself allowed us to predict and manage our overtime requirements when we were exceptionally busy.  The schedule could be published to multiple sources throughout the site which not only saved a substantial amount of time, it also eliminated any variances in the schedules being used.”

All of this contributed to P P Payne being able to give much tighter delivery and due dates.  Issues still remained however, most notably the time wasted in duplicating work on both systems.

This was the major catalyst in the company approaching ERP Vendor Fourth Shift in mid 2001 to source a modern ERP system.  Fourth Shift’s functionality gave everything that P P Payne needed except in the area of scheduling so integration now became a requirement.

Management consultants, Churchill Associates, a specialist Preactor Solution Provider and Fourth Shift Business Partner, upgraded their Preactor FCS to Preactor APS together with Churchill’s proven interface software. Alan Keene is a director of the Churchill Associates.

“Preactor and Fourth Shift working together was already a proven success in Filtrona, a sister company of P P Payne as well as with other Fourth Shift clients.  Our flexible interface utilises the unique open system design of these two market leading products, and provides the opportunity for near real time exchange of plans and schedules”. The combined Preactor APS/Fourth Shift system was in and live by November 2001.

Mike Novels, CEO of Preactor comments on the importance of developing this tight interface. “This is another good example of how our network of Preactor experts can work with a company to provide the tools they need to make substantial improvements.  In this case the company has chosen ‘best of breed’ products like Fourth Shift and Preactor to provide the complete solution”.

Again, the benefits were immediately obvious. No longer did jobs have to be manually entered into Preactor: the interface directly passing these from the Fourth Shift system. The time saving itself in this one area equates to 10 hours a week! Batch cards are now available at the click of a button as opposed to having to be manually generated and printed. Since the interface uses the Preactor schedule to automatically release and update orders in Fourth Shift, it also allowed the CRM functionality of the Fourth Shift system to instantly make available the end times of jobs to customer services, allowing them to deliver more accurate information to end users. The availability of accurate planning information will also enable P P Payne to integrate automation in other areas, primarily in labelling.

Such was the success of the Preactor/Fourth Shift combination that Steven was sent to investigate the possibilities of implementing the same system in the US facility in Richmond. The US plant was then using the same card and calendar system previously employed in the UK. Steven duly implemented Preactor and set up a link to the US Fourth Shift system. At this time it was decided that a new US Planner should be appointed and trained. During the time taken to recruit a new manager, the entire planning operation in the US was run from the UK via a PC-Anywhere link with the help of just one assistant physically in the US.

Even more amazing was the fact the new US Planner was trained on the US Preactor system, from the UK via the PC-Anywhere link.

The US is already replicating the same cost and timesaving as the UK with a Return on Investment (ROI) already obtained on both sides of the pond. Moreover, an unexpected benefit has also come to light as Steven explains. “The link between the two plants has effectively made the capacity of each transparent. This offers us the ability to use spare capacity in each plant where required, allowing us to optimise the combined potential of both manufacturing resources.”

As to the future, the company will monitor the situation in its other manufacturing plants with a view to implementing Preactor when it becomes viable to do so.

When asked to sum up the worth of Preactor to P.P Payne, Steven is adamant, “It is simply invaluable!”