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PLAXMETAL restructures its planning and scheduling process with Preactor APS and improves its delivery performance
May 2012
Located in the city of Erechim, north Rio Grande do Sul state, the Plaxmetal LTDA enterprise produces plastic and metal parts their main product line being chair kits (for assemblies) and spare parts for workstations, schools, residences etc.

The company was created 25 years ago and nowadays is the second largest company in the sector. With 280 staff, among these a highly qualified engineering team.

Plaxmetal invests heavily in technology and product development with breakthrough and practical designs in compliance with the most demanding quality requirements.

The internal tooling center is another competitive differentiator which manufactures and maintains the injection moulds used for the plastic injection process. The tooling team is specialized and entirely focused on producing moulds for the injection process, guaranteeing an efficient and rapid development workflow, as well as the reliability of mould maintenance.

Always preoccupied on satisfying the client needs, Plaxmetal wants to increase its market share by investing on solutions with comfort, ergonomics, style and innovative ideas, respecting the environment and empowering their workers through commitment and continuous improvements.

The company identified problems with their production planning process by an internal restructuring initiative. The Production Planning and Scheduling team (PPS) typically worked under pressure from the commercial department. Furthermore, schedules were created empirically, based on the PPS’s experience and spreadsheets. The detail was missing, which contributed to poor flexibility to re-schedule and the lack of schedule visibility which was needed to support the organization.

The company’s production process is characterized by high complexity, with long, frequent and sequence dependent setups, as well as a product structure with complex assemblies. Moreover, the interference of the commercial team on the shop floor schedule increased the uncertainties and the lack of control of current orders and the PPS planning process standardization.

These factors together were forcing the PPS plan to be fixed and inefficient. The decision making was continuously jeopardized because of the scarce information available. Hence, the challenge of deploying an APS system capable to solve these problems became the heart of Plaxmetal’s strategy.

After some meetings to analyze the production model and define the best Preactor version to be deployed, Plaxmetal contracted Accera not only to implement the Preactor software, but also to help in restructuring the whole PPS. The main goals were to increase the visibility on the production process and the on-time delivery accuracy, among others.

Adalberto Valentini is the Supply Director at Plaxmetal.
“Preactor gives us total control of our production division of thermoplastics. We are fully satisfied with the software, as well as the deployment conducted by ACCERA.”

At the beginning of the project, a careful analysis of the whole process of planning and scheduling of orders was carried out, from the demand forecast, to inventory availability, raw materials, generation of production orders, scheduling and production control, in order to identify the changing needs and opportunities for improvement in the planning flow. As a result, a standard format to import data from the ERP system was defined to meet the data requisites for the Preactor solution, such as the production routing, processing times and product data structure.

The analysis identified the plastic injection as the main process with the biggest bottleneck and the most complex and expensive process. For the correct scheduling of these resources, it took a detailed analysis of setups that depend on the sequence of different attributes, such as moulds and colors.

This was modeled using a combination of different Preactor features, such as setup matrices or fixed times on attributes, which enabled more intelligent scheduling of these resources, increasing the productivity.

In addition, mould control had a significant impact on the schedule and, for this, a new field was added to the ERP system enabling the moulds required for each operation of the production routing to be defined.

With this restriction the system forbid the use of the same mould at the same time in more in more than one machine. After scheduling the machines, reports are generated with the moulds required which prioritizes to work in the tooling centre, thereby achieving a greater availability of moulds and reducing production downtimes.

Another important constraint related to the injection moulding department is availability of staff to carry out changeovers on each machine. So this constraint is controlled by Preactor through a secondary constraint and a report with a changeover program, which is used to help the organization highlight the requirements of these teams on the shop floor each day.

Among other factors considered in Preactor to generate the Plaxmetal schedule is the requirement to limit the usage of electricity during the day.  Based on the daily schedule and through parameters of specific timetable states for the use of energy, the PPS team started to schedule the resources that must operate at times of peak consumption according to different delivery situations and operational costs.

With the Preactor deployment, Plaxmetal has given a greater plan visibility to the PPC area which helps in the decision making process and reduces the impact of restricted communication. This brought greater autonomy, professionalism and maturity to the scheduling process, directly improving the PPC relationship with other departments of the company, especially with Production and Sales areas.

Marta Remor is the Key Preactor user at Paxmetal.  "We are able now to improve the relationship with the commercial department, because we are managing to meet promised deadlines and release achievable delivery dates”.
This has showed in a 40% increase in delivery performance achieved by Plaxmetal.

The visibility also helped in the loading machines with more accuracy, planning for overtime and limiting the use of electricity at peak hours of consumption.  This has had a direct impact on reducing operating costs of production. Although the initial effort of data collection and new entries in the ERP system was high.

Marta Remor again.  "Preactor has enabled a reduction of about 30% in the workload of the team PCP" and today we no longer use spreadsheets for sequencing of production.  The advanced planning and scheduling generated by Preactor for the plastic injection area allowed to have a better control and timing in the production process. This led to less material handling at the plant and reduced unnecessary production, providing a 20% reduction of materials in process inventory. Today I set deadlines and meet them with greater precision. There was a 40% improvement in our service delivery, especially in the injected plastic area.”

Furthermore, the production sequencing which minimizes setups together with the predictability and advanced plan for mould changes and production needs for the area of tooling, provided a better organization and integration between these areas, thus generating a 40% reduction in total volume of the machine setups.

Finally, Plaxmetal plans in the coming months to expand the tool usage for all company areas, also including the areas of machining, stamping, welding and final assembly, further increasing the gains from the use of Preactor.