Saturday, July 01, 2006

Resource control designed for small companies

Designed to offer small to medium sized companies a real-time solution for planning, monitoring and controlling all aspects of aspects of production, this system brings improvements in productivity.
The Dynamic Resource Control (DRC) system from Manusoft is designed to offer small to medium sized manufacturing companies a real-time solution for planning, monitoring and controlling all aspects of production, leading to significant improvements in productivity and profitability. Designed to deliver quantifiable benefits for manufacturing organisations from machine shops to assembly plants, the system features an easy to use Windows based programme. Manusoft's DRC system enables manufacturers to control inventory costs, on-time deliveries and manufacturing expenditure, through efficient production scheduling.

Customer quotations can be produced, labour efficiency rates monitored and integrated real-time accountancy functions performed via a user friendly touch screen interface.

Designed for use by both managers and shop floor staff, the DRC system offers users the flexibility to define their own menu screen appropriate to their job function.

Consisting of up to 18 hot buttons, the special user defined menu option provides quick and easy access to real-time information.

In addition, the system features two-way messaging providing constant real-time contact between shop floor and administration.

The DRC system also allows managers to monitor and control production processes by identifying wasteful manufacturing operations and integrating the planning, costing, production, administration and delivery of products, alongside accountancy procedures.

A major benefit with the DRC system is that all of these functions can be monitored and assessed from a remote station on or off site.

Additionally, the real-time nature of the system makes it perfect for supply chain communication since all the data within the system can be accessed remotely by suppliers or customers through secure, password enabled sites.

Alan Matthewman, Managing Director of Manusoft UK explains: 'The DRC system has already been proven to raise efficiency levels and maximise profitability through the consolidation, integration and modernisation of production and communication processes.

To emphasise our confidence in the software, we also offer a customer guarantee that is unrivalled in the industry.

In addition, there is the opportunity for companies to take up our free on-site trial to demonstrate the power and flexibility of the DRC system and the benefits it can bring in terms of increased productivity and, ultimately, profitability.'

Reducing time to market with digital techniques

A decade ago, it took many years for a spacecraft to move from the 'drawing board' to the launch pad. The time to market period has now decreased to approximately two years and has to be shorter.
Delmia Corp, a Dassault Systemes company today announced that its systems are to form part of space manufacturer Astrium's digital product realization strategy. Tightly integrated with its sister product Catia, Delmia is to be deployed on the company's new and ongoing programs. A decade ago, it took many years for a spacecraft to move from the 'drawing board' to the launch pad.

The time to market period has now decreased to approximately two years and there is continuing pressure for further reductions despite dramatic increases in the size and complexity of projects.

Astrium therefore decided to investigate ways to reduce delivery risk, cycle times, and costs.

With help from leading universities, the Delmia toolset was evaluated as part of an overall digital design for manufacture initiative.

This benchmarking and best practice study focused not only on the various products and their associated process capabilities within the virtual factory or zone, but also on how best to implement the different tools so they could directly improve profitability in the context of product life cycle management.

This is known within Astrium as a Design Anywhere, Build Anywhere strategy.

Elfed Roberts, Systems Manager at Astrium says, 'We knew right from the beginning that we did not want to implement Delmia 's various virtual assembly tools as just a 'point solution'.

Though our thoughts on how both Envision and Ergo could be made to work for us altered over the course of the study, as the systems continued to develop, we knew that they could be used to both capture and manage a 'knowledge based' approach as well as affect unambiguous communication.

This approach also has the effect of being able to drive standardization and common processes at multiple sites and in multiple countries.' 'Telecoms space craft tend to be large one off complex structures with limited opportunities for standardization.

With Delmia, we will be applying kinematics and logistic-type simulations at the highest level, stretching these systems to their limits,' says Roberts.

'Using universities active in this field has helped us to evolve novel design-for-manufacture solutions.

Only by understanding the philosophy that underpins Delmia and Catia could we begin to harness their capabilities to maximize the added value potential to Astrium.

Everyone has been talking about the benefits of product life cycle management for some time.

I am confident that Delmia will enable us to achieve far higher levels of design maturity much earlier in our programs and hence, mitigate risk more effectively than was previously thought possible.' 3D PLM enables customers to optimize their business processes for engineering, manufacturing, maintenance and Ssupport, by utilizing Collaborative Workspaces to share a common product, process and resource (PPR) model.

With PPR, companies can capture, share and reuse Knowledge all along the Product lifecycle.

The open CAA V5 (Component Application Architecture) allows extension and integration of this solution within multiple enterprise environments.

Delmia provides a comprehensive software solution and expertise for customers to virtually create, monitor and control agile, distributed manufacturing processes geared towards Build-to-Order and Lean Production practices.

The Delmia software suite is containing an alphanumeric and 3D-driven process planning, standard time measurement applications, human being simulations, robot and machine tool simulation as well as solutions for layout generation and material flow simulation.

Such software allows development, screen-based simulation and optimization of manufacturing processes for single device, work cell, production line, and factory material flow up to Extended Enterprise production flow.

Applications range from concept development phase to shop floor implementation and production management.

The Delmia range of simulation software packages integrates behavior models to be used in simulation, analysis, programming and control applications.

Delmia offers state-of-! the-art technology to design factories on-screen, before actually building them.

Delmia serves industry segments where continuous transformation and optimization of the manufacturing processes are critical such as Automotive, Aerospace, Fabrication and Assembly, Electrical and Electronics, Consumer Goods, Plant and Shipbuilding.

Delmia constitutes the core offering for digital manufacturing and Production, serving the product life cycle.

Delmia solutions are interoperable with major CAD, PDM and ERP systems.

CFM will produce cost savings

To help automate its demand-driven, lean flow manufacturing practices, a supplier of complete factory and tool automation solutions is to use collaborative flow manufacturing software systems.
Pelion Systems, a company specializing in automating lean flow manufacturing through software and services, today announced that Brooks-PRI Automation, has selected Pelion's Collaborative Flow Manufacturing (CFM) software to help automate its demand-driven, lean flow manufacturing practices. Brooks-PRI Automation, a supplier of complete factory and tool automation solutions to the semiconductor, magnetic media and flat panel industries, is automating its complete line design process using CFM, resulting in significant cost savings due to increased efficiencies and improved performance. 'To achieve the full value of our demand-driven practices we quickly recognized that software tools were needed to automate and expand the capabilities of our current operations,' said Stu Zerneri, director of operations for Brooks-PRI Automation.

'We considered several lean flow software packages available today and determined that Pelion's CFM was the most powerful solution for automating and optimizing our flow initiative.' Pelion's CFM software has demonstrated improved financial performance for customers by reducing manufacturing cycle times, decreasing inventories and increasing factory productivity.

Designed exclusively to optimize lean flow manufacturing, the software provides a practical, modular approach that is proven to rapidly gain and sustain lean flow success by automating key processes, such as creating flow production lines and linking suppliers and customers to the factory floor.

CFM combines the best of lean flow and existing MRP systems.

'As a global leader that helps manufacturing customers automate factory production, Brooks-PRI Automation clearly understands that effective, sustained lean flow practices can result in significant improved financial performance,' said Tom Plunkett, president and CEO of Pelion Systems.

'Their selection of our CFM software, after a thorough review process, reinforces our mission to develop the industry's most powerful suite of software tools for true demand-driven manufacturing.' About Pelion Systems - founded in 1996, Pelion Systems provides software and services designed to improve financial performance.

The company helps manufacturers automate lean flow manufacturing by rapidly gaining and sustaining lean flow success with software tooling and expertise.

Pelion's CFM suite combines the best of lean flow with MRP and links suppliers and customers directly to the factory floor.

Pelion customers include Detector Electronics (a division of Kidde plc) and Colorado MEDTech.

Friday, June 30, 2006

PLM solution geared up for product morphing

A Product Life Cycle Management solution for manufacturing process planning, detailing, verification and simulation allows 'product morphing'.
Delmia recently launched Version 5 Release 9 (V5R9), of its 3D Product Life Cycle Management (3D PLM) solution for manufacturing process planning, detailing, verification and simulation. Delmia V5R9 represents a major milestone in the PLM as it enables product morphing. The new version will be available from September.

'Product morphing' is a set of best practices contained within Delmia V5.

It allows relational design, process integration and PPR infrastructure to automatically combine the existing design definitions and templates with new specifications.

Product Morphing thus drives the regeneration of fully engineered product definitions.

By maximizing the re-use of existing knowledge and experience, morphing helps reduce cycle times and increases market responsiveness.

Delmia V5R9 offers a range of new capabilities for product morphing, leading the way to integrated manufacturing engineering: * Date and range configuration mechanisms for manufacturing engineers working in the aerospace, shipbuilding, and defense industries.

* Enhanced creation and management of numerical control (NC) manufacturing processes.

* Geometric tools for improved collaboration between manufacturing and tooling design engineers.

* Planning infrastructure improvements to leverage the re-use of existing manufacturing libraries in process planning and detailing.

Controlling production and standards of quality

Problems of maintaining control of jobs on the shop floor, at the same time as expanding and building a skilled workforce, were solved by an integrated production control solution.
Paddock Gear and Engineering are precision manufacturers of gears for the power transmission industry. Continual re-investment in machinery means that the company has the capability to machine gears up to 1.2 metres in diameter. The company has experienced 40% growth in turnover in just two years.

Problem 1: Maintaining control of jobs on the shop floor, at the same time as expanding and building a skilled workforce, was becoming increasingly difficult for the founder and Managing Director, Mr Marklew.

Problem 2: An engineer himself, Marklew found that whilst the increased work-load was excellent news for the business, it meant that he was working 12+ hour days on a regular basis.

If he was not managing production, winning business with clients and monitoring quality procedures, he was out on the shop floor helping with production.

Problem 3: Quality is of paramount importance to the company.

As a supplier to blue chip companies, the standard demanded of Paddock's components and procedures is extremely high.

Marklew was adamant that traceability not be compromised by the quantity of work.

Problem 4: The company was not able to determine which jobs were making a profit or loss, nor by how much.

Solution: FactoryMaster is an integrated Production Control Solution which returns the control of Sales Orders, Works Orders, Manufacturing Instructions and Route Cards, full Batch Traceability and Job Costing to the key personnel within a business in a manner which reduces pressure and increases confidence in decision making.

Marklew was happy to comment, 'This is an excellent system.

It has become second nature to personnel and is now key to our infrastructure on traceability and quality.

It gives me the information I need at the touch of a button.

For example, the whereabouts of a job, or how much it cost to make.

If I need to change a route card or review the issue number on a set of manufacturing instructions, it is user friendly, quick and simple.

I was under enormous pressure, working long hours, before we had FactoryMaster.

I would estimate that it has taken probably 40-50% of that pressure off me.

Furthermore, I would estimate that the system has saved me employing two more people (in planning and production control) at GBP 25,000 per annum each.' Our BS EN ISO 9000 assessor and our customers, old and new, are all greatly impressed with the FactoryMaster system.' Just some of the benefits brought to Paddock Gear and Engineering by FM2000: a.

Harnessed production.


Quality control.


Knowledge at managerial fingertips.


Part of infrastructure for continued expansion.


Significant Cost savings (approx GBP 50,000 per annum).

Job management software launched at MACH

CAD/CAM software supplier Sescoi has reported a high level of interest in MyWorkPLAN its new cost control and job management software launched at the UK's recent MACH 2006 exhibition.
Sescoi has reported a high level of interest in MyWorkPLAN its new job management software launched at MACH. Colm Fox from Sescoi said, 'Many SME manufacturers are outgrowing their in-house designed management systems'. 'MyWorkPLAN provides the ideal tool to give them the cost control and job management information they need at an affordable cost.' My WorkPLAN was developed with ease of use in mind and comes with a 'getting started' tutorial as well as a highly intuitive interface.

These design considerations have overcome the lengthy training, implementation, and installation phases associated with management software.

MyWorkPLAN integrates with the customer's existing software packages, such as MS Office, and allows projects to be graphically analysed to enable the preparation of accurate quotations.

All the documentation attached to each project is stored centrally, allowing key historical information to be both collated, easily retrieved and referred to as a source of data to improve performance, profitability, and the accuracy of costing.

Investing in MyWorkPLAN provides a route to more extensive management control with Sescoi's WorkPLAN, giving users a clear upgrade path as their requirements grow.

Sescoi's automatic CAM software, WorkNC Version 18, which was also launched at the show, was well received by visitors to the NEC, particularly those taking their first steps into 3D machining.

Feature recognition in WorkNC helps to make the transition easy, automatically identifying holes and hole types, while the new Adaptive Trochoidal Roughing maximises roughing performance by introducing trocoidal movements whenever full engagement of the tool is detected, helping to keep tool loads constant.

To ensure optimum productivity, the new Dynamic Stock Management in WorkNC automatically updates the stock model after each roughing operation.

Keeping track of the location of excess material minimises air cutting and ensures that the tool is removing material as effectively as possible.

For companies looking for 5-axis machining, WorkNC Auto5 has been enhanced in Version 18 to improve the smoothness of the toolpath and hence the quality of the surface finish.

Auto5 is unique in its ability to transform 3-axis toolpaths into 5-axis toolpaths, making 5-axis programming a very simple task and bringing 5-axis machining within everyone's grasp.

Fox concluded, 'MACH has been a very good show for us.

It signals a growth in investment in new technologies by UK manufacturers, so that they can deal more effectively with global competition.' * About Sescoi - for nearly 20 years, Sescoi has developed software solutions renown for their quality, reliability, ease of use, and automatic features, as well as for world-class technical support and service.

Headquartered in France, Sescoi has established sales and support offices across Europe, Asia and the United States in order to serve thousands of local and international customers from a range of industries.

Sescoi's software solutions include the following.

* WorkNC, an automatic CAM/CAD solution for 2- through to 5-axis milling, featuring the award-winning 'Auto 5' module which automatically converts 3-axis toolpaths into simultaneous 5-axis toolpaths * WorkNC-CAD, a uniform CAD solution for the entire manufacturing process WorkPLAN, an integrated management solution for custom manufacturers that brings together company-wide data and resources enhancing knowledge, responsiveness and efficiency across the company.

* MyWorkPLAN, a cost effective and easy to implement job management system for small and medium sized custom manufacturers that controls quotations, time and resources, capacity and delivery dates to optimise performance and profitability.

With many years' business, engineering and software development experience, Sescoi understands customers' requirements, helps them master the challenges of new software implementation and build their business long-term.

Manufacturing software enhances work tracing

Improved control, enhanced tool and work tracking, streamlined operation and new CRM functionality are among the key enhancements in a comprehensive suite of manufacturing software.
Improved control, enhanced tool and work tracking, streamlined operation and new CRM functionality are among the key enhancements in Jobshop 9.3, the latest release of HRS' comprehensive suite of manufacturing software. The system's new capabilities include a 'stock locking' function that supports perpetual inventory checking, along with improved stock holding and control. Jobshop 9.3 also incorporates a novel tooling log feature, to not only provide enhanced tool tracking and utilisation, but also to simplify the maintenance of calibration data for all tooling in use.

New CRM functionality enables information about customers, suppliers and orders to be recorded and analysed.

In addition, a reminder function allows users to compile personal task lists, as well as to email required action lists to colleagues.

Further email enhancements in the latest release include improved editing of OLE documents, with output sent as pdf files rather than word documents directly from the user's email account.

As a result, documents such as quotations, order acknowledgements, confirmations and purchase orders can all be created and distributed more quickly and effectively.

A new 'smart paste' function enables associated data from up to 12 specified fields to be located using a simple right mouse click.

When the data is 'smart pasted' into another screen, the corresponding value for the selected field is automatically entered - eliminating errors and speeding Jobshop's operation.

Other operational improvements in the new release include touch screen functionality for simplified and more cost-effective implementation of shop floor data collection; user definition of the number of decimal places in quantity fields, enabling rounding errors to be minimised; a new file structure for improved security; and a 32 bit launch program, which allows system updates to be implemented without the need for users to log out.

In addition, further improvements in Jobshop 9.3 provide increased functionality and streamlined operation across the system's purchase ordering, estimating, sales order, costing, data importing and accounts linking functionality.

* About HRS - Jobshop, Alphacam, Radan, EdgeCAM and Cabinet Vision are principal brands of Planit Holdings plc.

The organisation's product range encompasses design to manufacturing applications and enterprise resource planning software solutions for companies operating throughout the metal, woodworking, stone and sheet metal manufacturing sector.

In addition, Planit International offers leading retail design software.

The group is a multi-million pound global business, with operations in Europe, the Americas, Taiwan and Japan, as well as a network of approved distributors and dealers throughout North and South America, Asia, the Middle East, South Africa and the Pacific Rim.

'Real-time' information makes managers 'proactive'

A totally integrated manufacturing execution system enables workloads across all manufacturing and support operations in the workplace to be graphically scheduled.
The drive is on for electronic component suppliers to reduce stocks and batch sizes to meet 'made to order' targets. This means faster changeover of production equipment is required coupled with greater levels of flexibility resulting in ever shorter lead time to get new products into manufacture faster. However, in moving towards smaller batches the downside is lower utilisation of costly production equipment due to more frequent stoppages and by the time production reporting information has been collated for management, it tends to be based on historical information.

As a result, immediate attention to problems only tends to occur when assembly stops or the customer screams over late or missed deliveries.

According to David Moody, chief executive of Brighton-based manufacturing software specialist Seiki Systems: 'This forces companies to be driven by reacting to events in a highly stressful firefighting scenario when they should be pursuing a proactive strategy.' For production management to be proactive (and not reactive) it needs access to live and exact information that has been created seamlessly from order to despatch.

No matter how flexible or streamlined the business, if the production area cannot deliver a quality product at the right price and in a timely fashion, then ever-growing competitive pressures will take their toll.

Real time information is the key for production to be under control.

Once management has the data, it then has the tools at its fingertips to quickly and easily make decisions.

Indeed, it is from this sound business footing that confidence grows, a judgement on return on investment can be made and, key to any business, if the customer can be pre-warned of possible problems on delivery with positive decisions and actions put in place by the supplier, a much stronger bond or secure relationship develops.

Grown out of the manufacturing sector supplying the likes of aerospace, automotive and contract production companies where some 7,000 separate production units have been integrated around the world, Seiki Systems' iMES - a totally integrated manufacturing execution system - enables workloads across all manufacturing and support operations in the workplace to be graphically scheduled.

These activities can now be directly integrated with an existing MRP/ERP system to provide a live information trail with the capability to handle the effects of a 'what if?' alternative scenario.

The advantage - and drawback - of any MRP/ERP system is that it will schedule the works order to a particular production station.

However, the assumption is made that an infinite capacity is available with no regard to the actual capacity or machine availability.

Also MRP/ERP systems are unable to influence or dynamically change workloading when information is fed back from production, such as a job is complete or a hold up is being caused by a task being slowed down or a breakdown.

Until now, monitoring production and machine utilisation or performance, was an intensive manual task and, once again, it does not report a live situation - only one involving retrospective historical events.

When integrated with MRP or ERP, the Seiki Systems' iMES provides unbiased real-time feedback creating a true, live and dynamic prediction of workloads in any production area.

If required, this can even drill down through the production sequence to individual workstations capturing direct information such as the batch status, thus confirming actual completion dates and reporting performance in a true paperless environment.

Through graphical work planning and full integration, the system is able to transform the original 'work to' data from any existing MRP/ERP scheduling system into a dynamic real time planning system that automatically updates as time and work in progress changes.

It is even possible to account for shift patterns, multiple operations and varying levels of skill without any manual intervention or interpretation.

The system is also able to account for any implications imposed by new or unplanned jobs, hold-ups or maintenance.

In addition, iMES has the capability to identify unused capacity in advance of production, enabling work in progress to be prioritised and lost time avoided due to waiting for inter-operational staging.

There are also spin-off advantages of improved internal communication throughout the manufacturing area.

Not only does this help to minimise error but it also ensures that the latest possible process data or customer requirements are transmitted to the workplace.

Because jobs are allocated electronically to each production unit, iMES eliminates paper-based job queue tickets.

Electronic work queues become interactive not people dependent, which also enables other departments to be informed of detail such as tooling, special settings and availability of materials.

Because of communication between different facets of the business, any problem can immediately be notified, recorded and appropriate alarm issued.

On the shopfloor a 'single mask' common screen viewing for operators enables them to see the work queues at a glance and view the manufacturing data, while back in the management office Accumulative Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) analysis, originally developed for the volume hungry automotive sector to determine the performance of each operational unit, enables the smaller business to compare the detail of jobs carried out on different shifts, different workstations and at different times.

Now with web-based reporting, electronic information on machine performance and production data can also be transmitted to virtually anywhere in the world.

This means production reporting, event logging, machine utilisation analysis, trend analysis and collated data comparison charts can be compiled through Seiki Systems' iMES and be made available to a single or number of destinations.

At the touch of a button, vital production management information is available in a live situation as it develops.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Customers choose ERP upgrade

Epicor Software has announced that new sales of Vantage 8.0 include Cynosure, Innovative Electronic Designs, SureFire, Thomas Dudley Limited and Xenetech Global.
Epicor Software has announced that new sales of Vantage 8.0 include Cynosure, Innovative Electronic Designs, SureFire, Thomas Dudley Limited and Xenetech Global. 'We're very pleased with the market reception that Vantage 8'. '0 is receiving, evidenced by the number of new customer so far this quarter,' said George Klaus, chairman, CEO and president of Epicor.

'I believe that pent up demand is strong among our existing customers as Vantage 8'.

'0 has been a highly anticipated upgrade release'.

' The migration cycle is off to a very aggressive start as a result'.

' To ensure that every customer understands the upgrade opportunities available to them, we're launching a customer road show to continue the education process.' Vantage 8.0 is a complete end-to-end manufacturing system that addresses the core business needs of make-to-order (MTO) and mixed-mode manufacturers with built-in workflows managing the entire order cycle: from Marketing and Sales through Production and Planning, Sourcing and Procurement, Installation and Service, through to Financial recognition.

Featuring an n-tier architecture built with Microsoft.NET and Web services technology, Vantage 8.0 is completely architected from the ground up to support growing market requirements for service-oriented architectures, which enables businesses to leverage best-in-class software services through open industry standards, simplifying application development and integration.

The new architecture exposes all functionality as Web services, offering new levels of application reliability, scalability, system interoperability and flexibility, combined with a rich user experience and low total cost of ownership.

Vantage 8.0 is available worldwide, delivering unrivalled flexibility and performance for both developers and customers.

Scheduling software firms up production planning

Before 'going live' with up-to-date scheduling software a packaging manufacturers production planning regime was a more arbitrary affair, working in a random fashion.
Smurfit Ward is a leading paper based packaging supplier located in Leyland, Lancashire. Ward Packaging was first established in 1980 by local Lancashire farmer John Ward as a potato sack production company, supplying sacks to other local farmers. It then moved progressively towards carrier, paper sack and SOS bag production for the food industry, pet food industry, chemical producers, flour mills, and supermarkets.

Ward Packaging was acquired by Jefferson Smurfit, a leading manufacturer of corrugated products and sacks in 2001.

Before going live with scheduling software solution Preactor 200 in 2003, the companys production planning regime was a more arbitrary affair, as Smurfit Wards Planning Manager, Dave Hampson, explained: 'As recently as 2001, activity on the shop floor was still organised in a rather random fashion.

Works orders would be produced and printed out.

They would then be delivered to the shop floor.

For Smurfit Ward, the production of printed sacks and bags has always begun at the printing machines.

However, the workforce on these machines have historically tended to make a quick decision as to which jobs to prioritise based on length, before sending the printed reels on to the tubers (bag/sack forming machine operators).

The tubers would sort the printed jobs into widths and would mainly prioritise those that fitted the tube width specification that happened to be set up on the machine at that time.

This was so that they werent constantly swapping the tuber set ups over after each separate job.

Then the bags and sacks would be passed to the finishers, before being stored for stock, or shipped directly to the customer.

Everyone tended to take the path of least resistance, which often didnt equate to the most effective method of production scheduling or customer service In order to look at overall planning, Smurfit Ward moved to spreadsheets.

However, because jobs on the shop floor are often activated and closed very quickly - often several times within a day - the spreadsheet tended to become out of date within a short space of time.

'Our shop floor can be a very dynamic environment, and often by the time we had logged details on a spreadsheet the goalposts had changed or the operation was complete Hampson explained.

The company then moved to using large white boards and job tickets.

'For each job operation we raised a ticket and placed it on the board in order of priority in terms of production said Hampson.

'However, we found scheduling for more than two or three days at a time too complex and largely unmanageable.

This method simply wasnt as forward-thinking as we would have liked Time management was another problem.

The sales manager and production manager would often spend half a day every day sorting out production schedules.

'The print manager and tubing manager would also regularly get involved, thus taking up a considerable amount of time when all concerned had other things they could have been doing said Hampson.

In addition, Smurfit Ward had no effective capacity management regime.

'Around Christmas 2002 we got in a fix because we simply didnt have the available capacity to meet job orders explained Hampson.

'The whole company breaks for a total of a month during Summer and Christmas for essential maintenance, but because there was little thought on capacity planning in the run up to Christmas 2002 we ended up delivering many orders six weeks late, or worse These constraints were Smurfit Wards main catalysts for change.

After learning about the affordability, functionality and scope of Preactor 200 from Preactor reseller Resource Management Systems (RMS), Smurfit Wards then Chief Executive Officer, Mike Fadden, became convinced that it was the ideal system for the company's requirements.

In early 2003 RMS staff came on site and helped Smurfit Ward determine exactly what the company required from a scheduling system, and the ball began to roll.

Hampson, who joined the company in June the same year, needed only two days training on Preactor 200 from RMS before he was largely conversant with its functionality and operational requirements.

From the outset it was Hampsons job to ensure Preactor 200 was up and running as quickly as possible.

Implementation took around a month to complete.

Much of this time was spent ensuring information from the companys ERP system could be easily migrated into Preactor.

'One of my first jobs was to ensure all the information stored in our Sage Line 100 system was sorted out prior to Preactor 200 going live.

So, to begin with, I had to find out how Sage worked as a system, make sure all the works orders were up to date, and then ensure all this information could be easily migrated to Preactor 200 when it was 'bolted-on' to Sage.

It didnt take long before Preactor was in a position to receive Works Orders and Bills of Materials from Sage and scheduling the workload for the shop floor began Hampson pointed out that, from the moment Preactor 200 went live, it proved to be a very smooth and reliable system.

'It was one of the most trouble-free and fast implementations I have ever been involved in.

Our Preactor package was slightly customised, mainly with regard to its set-up functionality, but other than that, it has needed very little modification.

It is true to say that since going live we have experienced hardly any problems with the system Hampson is now in a position where he can rely on Preactor 200 to provide him with work-to lists, which he distributes to each of Smurfit Wards production managers on the shop floor each day.

'Basically, I use the systems Gantt charts to manually schedule activity on the shop floor.

But the system is also excellent for considering ‘what-if scenarios; such as alternative scheduling routes and anticipating potential problems during the production process and determining the best way to ensure lead times are adhered to as accurately as possible Since using Preactor 200, Smurfit Ward has also enjoyed reduced set-up times on the shop floor, and a more accurate means of anticipating when orders will be complete and ready to deliver to the customer.

In addition, the system has provided the company with the ability to identify potential production ‘bottlenecks quicker.

'We used to be able to identify some potential bottlenecks, but we can now identify them within a week or so of an impending problem occurring explained Hampson.

'As soon as an order is placed on Preactor 200 I can tell whether we can realistically make the specified lead time without any snags, or whether we either need to inform the customer that delivery will be slightly later than originally thought.

In many instances, however, Preactor 200 allows me simply to adjust the production schedule on the shop floor to prevent a bottleneck.

So, in a nutshell, I can inform customers of realistic delivery dates and be able to move labour around the plant to ensure the quickest possible lead time Another benefit enjoyed by Smurfit Ward is that the company no longer looses orders on the shop floor.

'Because the information is stored on Sage and Preactor, we no longer have to worry about losing hard-copy route cards Hampson pointed out.

'We can also reduce the amount of time many of our managers spend in production meetings.

Preactor facilitates better communication as a single point of contact between sales and production.

It also means we can provide a better customer service if we find ourselves having to action 'rush jobs'.

Payback of investment in Preactor 200 has been conservatively estimated by Smurfit Ward to be 24 months.

This timeframe was arrived at based on a number of factors including the fact that Preactor 200 had negated the need for the sales and production managers to spend half a day every day discussing production schedules.

Planning and scheduling can now be updated much easier using Preactor.

These time and cost savings have been used to employ Production Planner, Dave Hampson.

Using lean costs, a proven saving was identified by comparing the set-up times of 2003 with those of 2004 when Preactor 200 went live.

Smurfit Ward found that set-up times had reduced across all major work centres even though the orders had changed towards small batches and more complicated jobs.

Because set-ups had reduced, set-up waste had also reduced.

Mike Novels, Preactor Managing Director, Mike Novels, said of the application: 'This is a good example of how Preactor provides an essential tool for synchronising the needs of the customer, the capacity of the plant and the on-going activities of the sales team in a fast moving business.

You can think of Preactor as a continuous virtual production meeting where its 'what if' capability can enable the planner to deal with the inevitable capacity conflicts and provide the agility to become more competitive in the market place RMS Director, Don Dyas, added: 'The key to the success of this Preactor implementation has been the working partnership between our own staff and the people at Smurfit Ward

Interface brings visualisation to planning

Pantek has introduced Nexus, a real-time interface that connects Wonderwares InTouch visualisation software to the Preactor Advanced Planning and Scheduling system.
Pantek developed Nexus specifically to overcome the problems that many manufacturing companies experience when attempting to establish timely and accurate data flows between their planning departments and the shop floor. The overall impact of these difficulties is that companies can create a schedule that predicts reductions in inventory and operating expense along with increased throughput potential, but until now were unable to monitor and react during execution. Nexus provides a control mechanism that supervises the movement of data between Preactor and InTouch software using Microsoft SQL as its data storage media.

It provides real-time information that enables performance against schedule to be monitored, highlighting problems as they occur.

This Increases significantly a companys ability to meet its goals.

Commenting upon the Nexus introduction, John Bailey, Pantek's managing director said: 'Nexus combines the power of Preactor and InTouch software.

Each enhances the other, and as a result, enables manufacturers to now address and overcome the many inherent problems previously encountered when passing data between the planning and shop floor functions of their plants'.

Bailey continued: 'Nexus provides a multitude of benefits, solving problems such as the inability to establish clear cut off points to provide start points for ongoing schedule generation or data gathering previously only permitted at fixed daily fixed times, now such problems are in the past.

In effect, Panteks Nexus brings manufacturers schedules to life'.

* About Pantek - Pantek is a leading supplier of industrial automation solutions to major manufacturers throughout the UK and Ireland.

Using world class industry expertise, quality training and support facilities allied with a proven range of software and hardware products, Pantek specialises in building, supplying and supporting manufacturing management solutions that can increase productivity, and supply corporate management with the information they need to make sound business decisions.

Digital Kanban makes manufacturing leaner

A huge growth is recorded with an Internet-based lean manufacturing digital Kanban on-demand delivery platform that eliminates lengthy, complicated and expensive infrastructure upgrades.
Datacraft Solutions, based in Durham, North Carolina, USA, is experiencing huge growth with their lean manufacturing Digital Kanban solution. In addition to doubling staff in past few months, the firm has coordinated a supplier interface tool, Curator. According to founder Matthew Marotta, 'Datacraft Solutions' Internet-based on-demand delivery platform offers key benefits from the very beginning of an implementation - namely, the elimination of lengthy, complicated and expensive infrastructure upgrades before a company can even begin to see positive ROI.

There is simply no faster or easier way to begin exploiting the power of Digital Kanban in a lean manufacturing operation.' Curator is the companion supplier interface tool, provided free of charge to Datacraft Solutions' client's suppliers.

It enables suppliers to view and confirm orders as well as anticipate and prepare for upcoming demand spikes.

Screenshots of Curator's functionality can be viewed on-line.

From the Curator Dashboard, to confirming and shipping orders; from customer inventory status to Kanban events history, from orders not yet issued to open signatures, Curator allows 100% visibility.

A supplier logs in through a secure web portal - there is no need to install or run any complex software application.

Curator completes the path to a more truly integrated, streamlined, responsive supply chain by providing increased visibility of process information.

Whenever a supplier confirms, denies or ships an order, Datacraft Solutions' Digital Kanban product automatically updates inventory and order status.

Operational needs are always visible and always up-to-date.