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Putting Planning to Bed with Preactor
February 2007

Steinhoff BeddingSteinhoff Bedding, a division within the Steinhoff group of companies, is the leading manufacturer of beds in South Africa, producing numerous brands either owned by the group or manufactured under license.  The Steinhoff Bedding division grew out of a number of acquisitions by the Steinhoff Group, and soon found itself with four factories, each with its own management structure. Localized functions included order entry, customer liaison, and production scheduling.

As not all beds types sold by Steinhoff Bedding could be manufactured in each factory, co-ordination and other problems existed and resulted in poor customer service and inconsistent commitments.  The Steinhoff Bedding management team realized in 2003 that, amongst other things, they needed to centralize order entry and scheduling to provide better customer service. After investigating various scheduling systems Steinhoff Bedding were introduced to Preactor. They immediately realized that the flexibility provided by Preactor 400 APS would provide the scheduling functionality they required.

Steinhoff BeddingIn 2004 the management decided to implement major changes to the business. These included centralizing order entry, customer liaison, scheduling, and implementing an upgrade to their existing SYSPRO ERP system. 

2004 was a difficult year for the Steinhoff Bedding Division as they introduced all the changes they required to run the division more efficiently.  By early 2005 most system problems had been found and eliminated and staff had been trained in using the new operating procedures.

Because of the delivery performance achieved during 2005/2006, Steinhoff Bedding won numerous “Supplier of the Year” awards and successfully nominated as the Steinhoff Local Furniture Division Company of the year.

The functionality provided by Preactor is a cornerstone of the ongoing success enjoyed by the Steinhoff Bedding Division.

Preactor enabled the Steinhoff Bedding Division to address a number of business problems:

  • Not all factories could make all bed types and within each factory there were volume limits on various processes. Each bed type could use a combination of processes. Preactor allows each factory to be loaded to its maximum volume recognizing the constraints of each process.
  • Steinhoff Bedding operated in a dynamic make-to-order environment with the order mix and order priorities changing daily. As a result it was necessary for the production mix to be firmed up as late as possible to recognize these changes.  Preactor allows Steinhoff Bedding to operate a firm schedule for just 4 days ahead.
  • Beds are large commodity items and are easily damaged and / or dirtied during handling. Preactor allows orders to be scheduled for shipment directly to customers once completed. This avoids warehousing the beds while waiting for the delivery date to customers, thereby reducing handling.
  • As Steinhoff Bedding supply beds across South and Southern Africa it needed beds to be produced to fill a truck leaving for a selected destination on a certain date. Preactor now allows production to be grouped by truck loads thereby making optimal use of transport and achieving low shipment costs per bed.
  • Major customers have very narrow delivery windows during which Steinhoff Bedding have to deliver to complete the contract. Preactor has provided the functionality necessary to enable the scheduler to ensure that beds were manufactured and delivered to meet those delivery windows. This is achieved even though beds for an order may be manufactured at different factories around South Africa.
  • Within each factory the daily production mix needed to be optimized to avoid unnecessary changeover time. Setup reduction is based on as many as five variables that needed to be taken into account. Preactor provided optimization of the daily production mix to minimize changeover time.

As a result of the ability to control the production taking into account all these requirements, Steinhoff Bedding has been able to provide extremely high levels of customer service within their market, as well as the ability to give realistic and consistent commitments.  Not only has this improved performance been recognized by the receipt of numerous awards from their customers, but it has also had a positive impact on their market share in a very competitive market.

Kevin Purves, an Executive at Steinhoff Bedding responsible for Logistics comments. “While Preactor is only one of the systems we use, there is no doubt that the visibility and control it gives us over our schedule is a major contributor to our improved performance.”

Chris Mollison of Scheduling Solutions based in South Africa, who implemented the system was also complementary about the company.  “I think Steinhoff Bedding should be commended for their vision in seeing how smarter scheduling could improve their business, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”