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Preactor APS helps accelerate and improve the planning process at VOP CZ
March 2013
VOP CZ, s.p. is the largest military company in the Czech Republic operating in the field of civilian and military manufacture combined with repair and servicing including repairs and modernisation of tanks as well as the production of the PANDUR II armoured personnel carrier. The CZK 1.5 billion turnover company has a 1300-strong workforce working in plants located in Šenov u Nového Jičína, Šternberk, Slavičín, Vyškov, and Brno, and is also engaged in testing, research and development. VOP CZ previously comprised of several companies, VOP 025 Nový Jičín in the Czech Republic and VOP 26 Šternberk in the Slovak Republic, but after 1989 and later 2003, changes took place both in the number of plants as well as their respective ownership structures. In 2006, the management of VOP 025 decided to streamline its production and associated business processes to help improve its competitiveness in the market. To help achieve this, the company’s management invested in a new business information system to replace the existing one, which had been developed on a long-term basis by the company’s own IT staff and which had reached its limits in terms of technology and processes. In 2010, the VOP 025 and VOP 026 companies merged to become VOP 026, later being renamed VOP CZ in 2012.

Why Preactor

In 2006, the senior management of the company decided to select a stable and integrated business information system to cover the broad portfolio of its operations from small batch production to custom manufacturing. The existing system complete with Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) did not meet the demands of the company, primarily in the field of managing Work in Progress (WIP), stock and capacity planning, and it also completely lacked purchase optimisation. After a long and demanding selection process, the company selected the combination of QAD Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Preactor APS systems from Minerva ČR on the basis of industry references and system functionality.

Implementation

Minerva ČR implemented Preactor APS as the last stage of its ERP and APS project in 2008 where it is now used to carry out all the planning for its civilian production. This represents hundreds of products exported mainly to Germany and England, primarily for the construction and handling industries. Preactor APS is also used for the majority of the company’s military production which currently includes the completion of PANDUR II Project, the general maintenance and routine repair of wheeled vehicles, the servicing of wheeled and tracked military vehicles, as well as the manufacture of superstructures for special wheeled vehicles. Minor jobs include producing weapon racks and outfitting IVECO LOV light armoured vehicles for use by the Czech Republic army. Planning with the Preactor APS system generally requires accurate and up-to-date data from the MRP module of the company’s ERP system including a rough cut capacity plan based on infinite capacity. The QAD ERP system provides all required information in real-time including completed works orders, the transfer of materials and the transfer of finished parts. From this VOP CZ generates its long-term plan whereby the work load of key resources (primarily concerned with machining) is identified in terms of time. Thanks to this long-term plan, the planner is able to identify any production bottlenecks several weeks in advance and can respond to these by increasing the number of resources or by transferring work to a partnering production facility. Short-term planning is carried out every other day and this updates the job queue for individual machine resources using a modified forward planning, optimisation method base on finite capacity. The combined planning process is able to handle more than 45,000 operations and only takes an hour and a half or even less.

Fast and easy Planning with Preactor

In 2011 it was decided to upgrade Preactor to version 11.2 which in addition to significantly accelerating the planning process, provided a range of new reports. The new version also brought a .NET user interface making it more user-friendly for the company’s staff, as Oldřich Hradil, VOP CZ Operational Planning Department Manager explains. "The new upgraded version of Preactor with the .NET interface brought a big change for all the users. Working with reports is now very comfortable and fast which means I have more time for my other activities."

Improved Reporting

Microsoft SQL Reporting Services are used for processing and reporting within VOP CZ. Reports are updated automatically on the intranet each time the plan is saved in Preactor and these can be exported in .xls and .pdf formats. The most frequently used dynamic reports include a monthly overview of the resource utilization, verification of availability of critical components from purchasing, and delayed orders (jobs) complete with detailed information on individual components and partner companies concerned. Hradil again, “Today, I cannot imagine myself not using a powerful APS system like we have in Preactor. This tool makes our production scheduling much better organized, allowing the user to focus on the critical problems within the plan which the planner has to address on a daily basis. Its deployment moves the daily routine planning to a significantly higher level in terms of accuracy and organization of the plan."

Future Plans

Hradil comments on future work with Minerva. "In the future, we would like to supplement the operational planning and scheduling with much longer term planning using the new Preactor Graphical Master Production Scheduler (GMPS) product. We will be working on this project with Minerva over the coming year." Preactor GMPS is a vital tool for companies that want to increase their competitiveness and profit, as well as to improve the services provided to their customers. Effective purchasing of raw materials and their timely use is the key to tackling one of the biggest manufacturing problems. GMPS features both "make to stock” and “make to order" functionality including the combination of both as well as planning for limited and unlimited capacity. It also provides user-defined control parameters of the solution, automatic MPS calculation with manual control, and direct connection to Preactor APS system intended for scheduling.