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Preactor Provides the Key Ingredient for Fine Chemicals Giant
June 2006

PPG Fine ChemicalsPPG Fine Chemicals is a global leader and manufacturer of custom organic chemical products and general-use fine chemical products used in pharmaceuticals, agricultural applications and many others. With facilities in the United States, Europe and Asia, the company provides its customers with pharmaceutical fine chemicals ranging from starting materials to advanced GMP intermediates through to complex APIs.

The company’s production flow process follows seven main steps: Reaction; Crystallization; Filtration; Crushing; Drying; Evaporation; and Distillation. While the company’s everyday production processes were reliable, it increasingly recognized that in order to be as effective as possible in terms of utilizing machinery and personnel to maximum advantage, it would need to source a state-of-the-art Finite Capacity Scheduling software package. This is when the company forged a relationship with Preactor.

PPG set about determining what software solutions were available on the market. It then determined whether they met a strict series of criteria. These included: the need to replace and to improve the company’s old scheduling system; to improve its customers’ views about scheduling; improve work flow and to reduce work in progress; optimize equipment productivity; quickly integrate different constraints; be able to simulate different scheduling routes; and generate efficient production plans and promote better overall communication.

After surveying the market, PPG quickly realized that many software solutions were not flexible and adaptable enough to simulate the company’s complex fine chemical process procedures.

However, when it looked at Preactor it soon recognized the system’s suitability and level of flexibility. The implementation of Preactor at the PPG Sipsy site in Avrille largely involved in-depth communication between a PPG interlocutor, and the Preactor reseller and consultancy Segula via phone and email.

Since going live with Preactor, PPG has enjoyed a number of improvements to its everyday operations. In terms of stock control, net parts needs are calculated by Preactor. A specific net-needs calculation is also provided in order to recalculate parts needs after scheduling. This method allows Preactor to allocate or remove batches to balance net parts needs (pegging). A parts list modification (adjustment of the required quantities) generates another calculation of needs which can change the constitution of batches.

As regards operations creation, this is done during the importation of the production plan into Preactor, but also during needs calculation if extra batches are necessary. Batches can be manually added or removed by the user where necessary. In terms of routing, Preactor can work out the optimum use of various machines during production. Before the use of Preactor the company’s routing procedure was often not as efficient in terms of time and resources. With regard to the Gantt charts with Preactor, a simplified Gantt generating one task per campaign was developed for a better readability.

A locking module was introduced in order to preserve certain campaigns already scheduled. Very precise rules are linked to these campaigns especially concerning calculation of net requirements and their fluctuation. Excel reports were developed in order to analyze the production per week or per month. A separate tool was also implemented to allow the comparison of specific schedules. Sequencing is made by campaign which as a mode of management makes the scheduling process even more complex because the examination of the equipment’s availability must be made over a much larger period than if scheduling was made batch by batch.

However, Preactor quickly points out the optimum scheduling route on the shop floor. In terms of rework, the complexity of the managed constraints required the development of an extra tool based on a given configuration to generate a coherent result taking into consideration all constraints. This phase was named Schedule Reparation and consists of maintaining the campaigns’ order on each piece of equipment and shifting the order if necessary, so as to make the schedule coherent in terms of tasks and stock etc.

Since using Preactor, PPG has enjoyed many benefits. In particular the company cites the system’s swiftness in generating schedules on the shop floor, and its ability to generate quick, accurate reports. The company also recognizes Preactor’s ability to provide the best view of PPG’s workload over often long production periods.