Nevamar is one of the top manufacturers of decorative interior surfaces in North America. Its products are found in a wide variety of installations, including airports, offices, bowling alleys, sports stadiums, retail stores, fast food restaurants, hospitals, homes and schools. The Company is a leader in manufacturing high pressure laminate.
For a number of years Nevamar, who had plants in Hampton, SC and Odenton, MD, was owned by International Paper. Nevamar was purchased in 2002 by a private investment group. The new management team began to modernize the company. A key objective was to improve customer service and consolidate operations. In 2004 all high pressure laminate manufacturing was consolidated in the Hampton facility.
As part of the Company’s modernization program, Nevamar sought to improve its information systems. A key opportunity for improvement was to replace the Company’s legacy press scheduling system which was part of a legacy system that had been developed nearly 40 years ago. For the last 20 years the legacy system had been running on an HP3000 and was no longer flexible enough to meet the changing demands of their business.
In the late nineties much of the HP3000 system was replaced by an Oracle ERP system which had been hastily implemented to address potential millennium issues
Nevamar investigated several options for replacing its press scheduling system, including several leading packages and custom development. An earlier effort to implement a software package had failed several years prior, so the team was eager to avoid the mistakes of the past. The Company also wanted a solution that would be compatible with its Oracle manufacturing system.
After considerable research, Nevamar discovered Suncoast Scheduling Technologies (SST), a Florida-based company that had already gained considerable recognition for the work it had successfully completed with a printed circuit board laminator in New Hampshire. As it investigated the SST solution, Nevamar’s team became convinced that SST’s Preactor based technology and industry experience were exactly what Nevamar was seeking.
Denis Picard, Nevamar’s Chief Information Officer, explained that “scheduling the press loads is a major constraint in planning plant operations. The press schedule is based on a complex set of rules that determine which products can be mixed in the same press load. The variables include attributes such as the sheet size, finish, construction, grade, product type, press constraints and customer-specific requirements.”
Working closely with Nevamar’s engineering and scheduling staff, the Suncoast team led critical work to distill the engineering data from a matrix table containing about 165,000 lines into a 220 line table called the Recipe File. SST worked very closely with the schedulers to make sure that the system addressed a number of critically important customized specifications.
SST’s laminate scheduling solution was built with Preactor’s flexible Advanced Planning and Scheduling software. It includes four modules:
The Scheduling Module allows the schedulers to automate the process of grouping orders into press loads.
The PLE Module (Press Load Editor) provides the scheduler with a powerful graphical user interface which allows fine tuning of the schedule by splitting, pulling forward and dragging orders from one press load to another.
The Netting Engine Module adds functionality that is required for the optimization of cut-to-size orders and the netting of orders against available finished goods inventory. In addition it handles the integration with the Company’s Oracle ERP system and the printing of shop floor paper.
The Reporting Module makes all the scheduling data available in Microsoft Access so that users can analyze the data by quickly and easily creating their own reports, queries and graphs.
Once implemented the new scheduling system was quickly synchronized with customer demand so that changes and cancellations to customer orders can be immediately passed through to the schedule.
Ninety days after implementation, the system is showing significant results. Late orders have been reduced by more than 85%; scrap rates are down, in part due to improved press efficiencies.