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Preactor Linked to Dynamics NAV Provides the Required Scheduling Profile for Thermoplast
March 2012
Thermoplast specialize in the design and manufacture of plastic profiles for a wide range of applications and in a variety of materials which have different degrees of hardness, surface and colour. Located in Libiąż, Poland the company was founded in 1989 as a Swiss/Polish joint venture and was a pioneer in the manufacture of windows made from plastic profiles. Later Thermoplast focused on the production of customized extrusion profiles for the furniture industry.

In the area of plastic profiles Thermoplast's offer includes designer profiles for furniture construction, seals for the building industry, decorative profiles for interior construction, and special profiles for industry. For example, Thermoplast supplies all branches of the furniture industry in products such as edges, plinths and roller blinds, components for the production of office desks and a complete range of kitchen furnishings.

Thermoplast use only high-grade materials in its manufacturing process, supplied by world market leaders, and its raw materials and finished products meet all the required technical standards. Thermoplast also has its own tooling shop. Experts from Poland and Austria design and construct hi-tech precision tools for the production of profiles, according to the latest technology and according to western standards. 

Modern production lines operate 24 hours a day.  The know-how of experienced German and Austrian specialists and the commitment of the Polish team of employees enable the company to produce custom orders quickly. More than 130 employees in Thermoplast are involved in supplying customers in countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and China.

THE PLANNING PROCESS PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PREACTOR
Bartosz Pytka, Production Planning Manager in Thermoplast, explains the challenges using the previous methods of production planning, and the reasons behind the decision to choose Preactor to manage their production scheduling.

“Before the implementation of Preactor, scheduling was done in two steps.  Orders were placed in the MRP system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and then exported in the form of production orders to Microsoft Project. After preparing the production plan, it was necessary to manually update information in NAV with dates of execution and completion of orders. Microsoft Project did not allow ranking of production attributes and automatic planning was impossible. Production queues were sorted manually, taking into account colours and due dates. In Microsoft Project it was not possible to automatically take into account changeover times between orders on production lines.

These problems led the company management of Thermoplast to start searching for a software solution that would meet the expectations of our company, related to a specific and complex planning, with special reference to the ways we operate our plant.   After the first meeting with Prętczyński Ltd. we have received a proposal for a comprehensive solution, based on the Preactor APS 400 system, that took into account all of our specific needs.”

Bartosz Pytka also describes the scale of production process that has to be taken into account when planning.
 
“Production planning involves 25 work centers, our primary constraints, and all kinds of peripheral devices and additional equipment to support the process of production, our secondary constraints. There are a total of about 300 resources that are included in the scheduling.”
 
THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS AND SOLUTION
Implementation of Preactor 400 APS was conducted by Prętczyński Ltd., Preactor International's partner in Poland, who has been working with Preactor solutions since 2002.
 
The implementation process started in the second half of 2008. The project began with training, using a prototype prepared during the pre-sales stage. Then, together with Thermoplast, the concept of a solution was prepared. The concept document included the following:-
  • Description of where Preactor would fit into current production planning process at Thermoplast.
  • Description of the target data exchange between Preactor and Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
  • Analysis of the data exported from Microsoft Dynamics NAV to highlight the kind of issues that can prevent scheduling of individual orders.
  • Constraints within the manufacturing process which were to be modelled in the scheduling configuration in Preactor, including the requirement to model sequence dependent changeover times.
  • Scheduling rules to be used and possible methods of visualization of the production plan within each of departments.

In the next step, in accordance to the concept document, the process of building the configuration and importing data from Microsoft Dynamics NAV started. From Microsoft Dynamics NAV production orders are exported along with the assigned routing and the BoM structure containing information about the tools attached to orders. From Preactor, after scheduling, planned dates for start and end of individual orders are exported to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, together with resources assigned as a result of planning.

The functionality in the configuration used by Thermoplast included:-
  • Calculations of changeover times for each resource using a sequence-dependent setup time matrix based on colour and changeover times connected with tools.
  • Planning constraints of tools (over 300 entries) and operators.
  • Sorting and scheduling orders using ranking of colours and ranking of tools.

Implementation of the system was finished in about 3 months from the preparation of concept document. After implementation, documentation describing the data in the model and the procedures for scheduling was prepared for end users.
 
 

THE RESULTS
Bartosz Pytka described the benefits achieved after implementation of Preactor.

“As a result of implementation we received additional benefits of detailed planning of changeover times within work centers, depending on the type of production, as well as surface treatment technology used in our profiles. Specially created rankings of attributes (for tools, colours and due dates) allowed us to create an efficient and optimal production sequence. Automation significantly cut the time spent on production planning and eliminated errors associated with manual planning.   Scripts for data exchange between Preactor and NAV Preactor were created, that automatically updates scheduled orders with dates of production and the demand for materials, which to a considerable degree also makes it easier to work in the logistics and sales departments.   The whole implementation process went very smoothly and Prętczyński Ltd. responded to our further requirements on a regular basis.”