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SMC - A Global Project With ERP-APS-MES
January 2015
SMC (Société Mécanique de Cintrage), located in Chateaudun, France, is a leader in the market of hydraulic pipes with more than 40 years of experience. SMC deals with both French and European markets, and is ISO 9000 and 14000 certified.

SMC’s main customers are  manufacturers of agricultural material, handling or civil engineering products.

The manufactured goods are essentially : hydraulic pipes, technical pipes, tubes of structure or still combined pipings (flexible + stiff hoses).

PRODUCTION

SMC has a make-to-order production; custom products are manufactured following precise specifications from the customer. From the stock of raw materials (steel tubes in a 6 meters length but various diameters) to the shipping, there various stages of production such as:

- Cutting
- Bending
- Crimping
- Deformation
- Brazing
- Leak testing
- Finishing (corking)
- Packaging.

The duration of a work-order is between one and four weeks, depending on the complexity and the operating range, because they can have between 10 and 20 operations. The operating time is rather short, from 15 to 30 minutes.

Approximately 1000 work-orders are permanently open in the workshop.

In terms of the organization, the Production Manager is in constant contact with the planner and three team leaders (cutting, welding and bending). The bottleneck is located on the bending machines, so the planning is focused on these so the upstream and downstream operations are adjusted according to their use.

THE PROJECT

SMC previously used Prodstar ERP, and had no computerized tool for the scheduling.
Products made for the customers were more standardized in the past. Now customers bring more designs and product life cycles which grew shorter (the designs are renewed approximately every 4 years). The company had to be reorganized to face these changes and become more dynamic.

Four years ago, the company decided to re-examine all its IT tools. The ERP Prodstar has been replaced with Sage ERP X3. To complement the ERP at the production level, PREACTOR has been chosen for the planning and scheduling of the production, as well as the MES module from SAGE for the real-time tracking.
It was decided to manage these three implementation projects at once.

Preactor has been chosen not only for the capacity of the tool to simulate and to optimize production planning, but also for its capacity to interface with SAGE ERP X3.

The main criteria form the specifications concerning the scheduling were:
- To optimize the resources closest to the needs for production and in the respect of the quality and traceability requirements
- To enhance reliability of the deadlines
- To increase customer satisfaction
- To improve the consideration of the constraints
- To promote communication (central planning)
- To interface with SAGE ERP X3.

PREACTOR IMPLEMENTATION

Preactor implementation began four years ago, together with the new ERP and the SAGE tracking module (with integrated badge reader). The pipe bending machines are in the center of the planning, and all upstream and downstream operations are scheduled according to particular constraints such as:

- Handling of the packs of tubes before the cutting (use of the tackle)
- Grouping of the work-orders by diameter and thickness
- Specific tools on bending machines, available in limited quantities
- Integration of the prototypes of work-orders launched by the research department directly in the planning.

Besides the standard algorithms available in Preactor, an algorithm was personalized to meet the needs of SMC.
Reports were also set-up to measure the performances of the schedule.

Once the scheduling is done (every morning), the schedule is then transmitted to every block / workstation for a two day working period.

The schedule is fixed to a maximum period of two days, because the changes from the customers are numerous and frequent. The orders are received every week, but processed regularly.

Preactor is tightly interfaced with SAGE ERP X3 which sends data to Preactor coming from the tracking module.
The three solutions are fully interfaced for a better communication and data optimization.



SMC CONCLUSIONS ON THE SIMULANEOUS SET-UP OF THE 3 SYSTEMS

The implementation of Preactor has been done simultaneously with SAGE ERP X3 and the tracking module.

- “The implementation in parallel of these three systems was an ambitious project for SMC, with an important load for all teams during the last four years,” explains Sandrine Lapicorée, Logistic Manager and ERP Project Leader. “The project now comes to the end and we start to see the improvements and to observe the first benefits.” Among the observed benefits the most notable are doubtless, the capacity to identify the problems linked to the production much more easily and quickly. SMC wins in reactivity and can make the decisions more quickly.

- Preactor provides a future of security. It is much simpler to face absences, because the process is formalized, centralized and accessible.

- Preactor also contributes to the preservation of the turnover of the company in spite of a change of customers behavior: until 3 last years, the added value came from the weld and the subcontracting operations. The behavior changed, parts became simpler to produce, and the added value comes from the bending. It was thus necessary to increase the load on bending machines and to better manage the planning to keep the same level of turnover.