Global Case Study
Opcenter (Preactor) APS
Metalúrgica Fey fastens onto the benefits of Opcenter APS, formerly Preactor Advanced Scheduling
Metalúrgica Fey is one of the largest manufacturers of fasteners in Brazil. Recognition has been achieved through its extensive range of products supplying the markets, such as bolts and nuts, agricultural equipment, motorcycle, automotive, central pins, spring clips and special parts.
In 1966, with the production of turned nuts in its small factory of 70 m², the company had its beginnings. Currently it has a built up an area of 33.500 m² and a capacity to produce 1,800 tonnes per month.
Metalúrgica Fey is located in Indaial, Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil. Exports are destined mainly for South American countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador, among others.
Due to growth in the market and the features of its MTS (Make-to-Stock) service priority, Metalúrgica Fey realized that it needed to make changes in their planning process and production scheduling. The sector of PPPC (Planning, Programming and Production Control) was working under heavy pressure and did not have visibility to make proper control of production. The planning, done provisionally based on knowledge and the experience of staff, was conducted through analysis based on predefined volumes of monthly production of families of items and supported by the use of electronic spreadsheets and other parallel controls. The low level of detailed information, poor flexibility for rescheduling and a lack of visibility of the program as a whole did not meet the company’s needs.
Other determinants were the difficulties with the low level of service policies, replenishment of inventories and the imbalance of inventories of finished products. High levels of inventories in the middle of the production process (WIP – Work in Process) were also evident. From these, we can also mention: problems related to maintaining the synchronized flow of materials in the manufacturing unit, inefficient management of materials sent to be outsourced, gaps of visibility between the stages of the production process, low-level management of bottlenecks in production and high volume setups.
In short, the listed factors combined with the use of ineffective controls made the process of PPPC complex, slow and inefficient. Consequently, decision-making was extremely reactive and ineffective. It was this challenging environment described which led Metalúrgica Fey to seek solutions on the market to redesign their planning and scheduling process and characterized the ideal scenario for implementation of an APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) system.
After examination of the existing scenario, the Metalúrgica Fey sought help in the market, first hiring a consulting firm to assist in mapping, review and adjustment of the entire planning process where it was realized the need for an appropriate and powerful tool to meet the needs of the production sequencing. After conducting the appropriate market analysis, Metalúrgica Fey chose Preactor software as a solution to its problems of sequencing and included the implementation performed by the company ACCERA, as well as assistance in the reorganization of PPPC as a whole, searching for greater visibility of the production process inventory policies, among other goals.
With the onset of the labor restructuring of the planning process, Metalúrgica Fey classified its products into different families according to their characteristics regarding the market attendance. With the products correctly classified into specific categories for their families – high demand, custom, special, others – it was possible, through a historical analysis, to develop and define different inventory replenishment policies. Other initiatives were generated in relation to the planning process, such as adjustments in relation to the size of production batches, the approach between the different areas of the company and macro analysis of productive capacity. With the organization of resupply policies and macro analysis of the productive capacity, Metalúrgica Fey could be more assertive in their planning process, better responding to the market demand and correctly generating their production orders.
After the reorganization of the planning process, Metalúrgica Fey still had the potential to obtain better results with the restructuring of the production scheduling process and implementation of the Preactor system for advanced sequencing of production. The mapping of the production process and schedule for production of Screws and Nuts was then performed, where several opportunities for improvement were identified.
Among the main issues identified was the process of outsourcing. In this process, the business rule configuration identifies Preactor production routes in which materials can be outsourced or not, then this information is brought into the scheduling Gantt chart, allowing the programmer to quickly choose among two options after validating the domestic production capacity based on the advanced schedule.
Another important feature with the early use of Preactor was the ability to quickly identify bottlenecks of production and be able to act on them with better scaling of production shifts. The simulation of different scheduling scenarios identified with specific reports showed the comparison between them and generated an analysis of different programming performance indicators which enabled countless new possibilities as the basis of decision-making by the PPPC, thereby removing the responsibility for the sequencing and scheduling from the factory and bringing it directly to the area of PPPC.
Ricardo Fey is Industrial Manager at Metalúrgica Fey: “We obtained significant results in increase of delivery performance, reduced WIP and improvement in production flow. The way we see the current production flow allows us to act with more confidence and assertiveness.”
During the project, extensive work was also performed mapping and improving accuracy of process times records, product structures, registration of alternative resources and setups for exchange of material characteristics, posing a high level of reliability in the generated schedule from Preactor. A data validation specific report was also developed, generating an analysis of inconsistencies in relation to the data sent from ERP that enabled an agile solution to the issues regarding data quality.
With the implementation of the Preactor Project, Metalúrgica Fey successfully restructured its process of PPCP and the tool brought greater visibility for the programming, allowing the generation of different scenarios, assisting in decision-making and reducing unnecessary communication between the PPPC area and the factory. This brought significant improvements in production management, affirmed by Kleverson Alexandre Coelho, Continuous Improvement Coordinator.
“The management of production and the factory sequencing changed significantly, enabling decision making and acting preventively, with a view of the entire production process and not just a specific process.”
The advanced sequencing of production, considering the various constraints of the production process and the timing between operations, combined with an analysis and a proper sizing of production shifts due to the occupation of resources provided to Metalúrgica Fey a reduction of 40% of the in-process inventory volume (WIP). Such gain generated a better organization and flow of materials within the plant.
One of the key performance indicators in the area of PPCP and production, delivery punctuality indicators for the stock, achieved a very significant gain from the beginning of the use of Preactor, growing from 20% to 75%, which represents a performance gain of 275%. The improvement of this indicator represents fewer disruptions to the inventory, better ability to attend to market demand and order backlog and a potential gain of market share in the medium-term, among other aspects.
Other gains related to work organization in the PPPC area was its relationship with the area of production and production lead time reduction were also seen.
Kleverson Alexandre Coelho again, “With the implementation of Preactor, our PPPC is focused on scheduling advanced analysis and comparison of scenarios, seeking better results and preventive solutions to meet deadlines. Today, Metalúrgica Fey, through the Preactor tool, transformed the PPCP area into an information transformation center, which examines the future by performing simulations in the present. “
Finally, Metalúrgica Fey plans in the coming months to expand the use of Preactor to the area of manufacturing raw materials and for the future area of tooling, further increasing the gains from the use of Preactor.