Global Case Study
Opcenter (Preactor) APS
Preactor helps D&D Manufatureira to promise stainless delivery dates
D&D Manufatureira Ltd., is a small company based in Diadema (Brazil). Its business is focused on drawing and cold rolling, straightening, grinding, polishing and stripping of special steels, stainless steels and other specialty alloys. They produce a wide range of stainless steel products such as bars, pipes, wires, special drawn and rolled profiles, rolls and reels used for general industries such as automotive, machinery and equipment, implants and surgical instruments (orthodontic and orthopedic products), and screws for different applications.
Established in 1997, D&D Manufatureira employs about 100 people and is experiencing upward growth due to its high degree of customer loyalty and expanding customer base.
The company may be small, but their challenges to secure delivery dates to customers are huge. The company’s production is entirely dependent on customer orders. Any slight variation in the size of the order, dimensional finish, mechanical characteristics (hardness, strength, flow, stretching) or any other variable requested by client, already justifies the creation of a new product and its bill of process. It is true that the processes are very similar according to the type of product, but process times are different and some resources may be unable to process it. It demands a considerable effort by the company team to define well the bill of process for each product.
Each production order can have between 3 and 9 operations and the company processes about 500 production orders per month. On average there are about 3000 operations to be allocated onto 80 resources (internal and external) per month and the scheduler must pay a lot of attention to synchronization between operations in order to avoid too much WIP and meet delivery dates as much as possible.
Marcelo Fibla, Planning & Quality Supervisor at D&D, comments, “We calculate our delivery dates based on rough plant load capacity which was maintained in spreadsheets. Precision was something we could not afford and usually we inflated the dates to give a delivery promise. The problem with this approach was the fact that most of the time it did not meet customer needs and this generated an increase in cost of production especially with overtime and movements along the entire logistics chain. For sure, we have lost a lot of business. On the other hand, we could accept all dates requested by customer, as we did very often, but always a question came up – was it worth it?”
He added, “The second level of problems was to handle the unexpected events. To release an order to production, we had agreed a delivery date with our customer. At this point our real problems began. Things in production are not static and plans go to waste very often and quickly. The monitoring and updating the status of operations with the use of spreadsheets contained many failures. We needed a tool that could handle our production constraints and demands generating an achievable schedule and at same time help us to react quickly to unexpected events in order to anticipate decisions and to establish better communication with our customers.”
Marcelo found some references about Preactor reading a book from Prof. Dalvio Tubino (a respectable author of several Brazilian books about production management). Marcelo then started his own investigation and called CT Consultores (a Preactor Solution Provider based in São Paulo) to support them.
“Since the beginning we realized that D&D could benefit a great deal from Preactor. The challenge was to design a solution that could handle their most important constraints and, at the same time, could fit their pocket,” says João Marcos Carnelosso of CT Consultores.
As Preactor is family of products for planning and scheduling, there are tools to handle simple to very complex situations and be affordable to any size of company, D & D Manufatureira could choose their solution.
After evaluation of D&D needs and requirements, CT Consultores suggested Preactor 200 FCS (now known as Opcenter APS Standard) with a configuration to maintain the bill of process in the system because most of the data required was split in several sources, mainly in spreadsheets.
“We realized during the evaluation that to handle all their constraints and needs they would need a high level product, but we also knew they would not invest. So, we have presented the path for the scheduling excellence where they could handle their major constrains gradually and when a feature became indispensable they could upgrade the product paying the difference” explains João Marcos.
The first project to deploy Preactor occurred in the first quarter of 2006 that was simple and fast to deploy. D&D participated in a user training course to learn more about Preactor and to have a better understanding of what kind of data would really matter to Preactor. CT Consultores made some small changes in the Preactor user configuration to better fit the requirements, set the scripts to import data and help D&D to evaluate their first scenarios of production. In less than a month, the company was already generating and releasing schedules from Preactor to be performed by the shop floor.
“With CT Consultores support, we quickly learned the basics, how to import data and how the software works. Within just few days we were able to generate some scheduling scenarios. It was fundamental to understand that bad data generates useless scheduling. But it also gave us a to-do list with priorities of where to concentrate our efforts. Even so, I confess that the consolidation of all data from different sources including information in the minds of some people and several spreadsheets was the more difficult part,” comments Marcelo Fibla.
Just a few months later D & D was experiencing significant lead time reduction and becoming able to better determine delivery dates.
However, they began to face another problem. Updating the schedule in order to generate new production scenarios was very time consuming and impacting their reaction time and they decided to begin their second phase with Preactor. The goal was to link Preactor with PC-Factory, a Brazilian Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
After this second phase was complete, D & D Manufatureira was rewarded with several benefits, including more accurate delivery dates, improvement of delivery performance, reduction of lead times, reduction of work-in-progress (WIP) and a huge increase in production visibility. The company began to be able to quickly identify potential problems and focus on the cause of late operations or any other unexpected event, including changes in priority, quantities or due date requested by customers.
In 2013, the company installed and migrated their solution to Preactor version 12 which impressed them due to increase in scheduling speed.
“We are now looking forward to upgrading our Preactor FCS 200 (Standard) to Preactor APS 400 (Ultimate) in order to use secondary constrains and the Material Explorer feature. It will tune our scheduling process, enhancing operator utilization and tools and showing in advance where a lack of material can impact production. This will help us to improve the entry point of our supply chain, enhance efficiency and reduce costs,” said Marcelo Fibla.