LSI Case Study
Opcenter (Preactor) APS
Royall Wall Systems
Customized solution to a concrete problem at Royall Wall
Royall Wall Systems, Inc. is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Back in 1989, they perfected and patented a ground breaking way of manufacturing hurricane resistant buildings. These buildings are designed to uniquely address the special requirements of Florida because in addition to hurricanes, they can survive fires and termites. Each wall is a self contained unit made of reinforced concrete, polystyrene insulation and metal studs. The homes that Royall Wall build are not only incredibly strong, they have won numerous industry awards for being energy efficient.
Royall Wall is able to efficiently manufacture their walls in a plant and deliver them to the homebuilder shortly after the foundation has been poured. The walls for a typical house can be cast in a couple of days and delivered to the construction site, where they are installed in about 4 hours.
As local builders started to understand the inherent advantages of building homes the Royall Wall way, the business started to grow. The founder, Wally Sanger, hired an aggressive management team and directed them to position the company so that it could meet the increasing demand for his innovative buildings. The new management team built new facilities and continued to fine tune the process enabling the company to significantly increase the number of walls they could build in a day.
The problem was that even though they were increasing their capacity, they were still planning and scheduling their facility with a system that was mostly manual. This meant that they were not able to keep up with the daily bombardment of new orders and changes. They were getting bogged down to the point that they were having difficulty estimating and meeting promise dates and in the construction industry that can be a very expensive problem.
David Kush, the COO for Royall Wall, decided that he needed to once again dig into his manufacturing experience and set about looking for an advanced planning and scheduling system. He was able to find Preactor through a local Florida based Preactor reseller, Lean Scheduling International (LSI), formerly known as Suncoast Scheduling Technologies (SST). LSI specializes in building customized scheduling solutions that are designed to meet the specific requirements of their clients.
Lean Scheduling International quickly realized that although Royall Wall is a construction company, their planning and scheduling problems were typical of the manufacturing problems.
After completing an assessment of the situation, LSI sat down with David Kush to design and build a custom solution that would address his specific needs. The new system would automate the downloading of new and changed jobs from Microsoft CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software) into the Planning Control Center. The Planning Control Center automates the process of prioritizing new orders, scheduling them and calculating promise dates. This is important because there is more demand than there is capacity and like any smart manufacturer they need to keep their key customers happy while taking on as much additional business as possible.
The planning system was tightly integrated with the scheduling system which used a combination of backward and forward scheduling techniques to calculate and update promise dates.
In addition, LSI developed a web based system, the Production Status Portal that could be updated by supervisors using PDAs. This module displays a simulated view of the production facility (see below) that enables the production foremen to see at a glance what is happening in the plant and allows them to easily and painlessly enter the day to day production activities while moving around the outdoor plant.
Transactions entered into the Production Portal are also used to automatically update the scheduling system and CRM. This means that anyone using CRM has immediate access to the real-time production data and the latest scheduled completion date of every open order. This capability allows them to update customers while they are on the phone.
David Kush admits that he has been able to reduce the amount of time he spends on the planning process but adds that the ability to share real-time production and scheduling data with his customers is something that he was not able to do before.
Although rain and hurricanes can still have a big impact on his ability to deliver on time, with the new system he is able to recalculate his promise dates in seconds. This allows him to update his customers long before they run into problems and this saves everyone time and money.
David feels that this is just the first step and as the company continues its impressive growth he plans to add new functionality to the system in the future.
Mike Novels, former CEO of Preactor International, commented on the application. “This again illustrates how Preactor can be customized and integrated with other applications, in this case Microsoft CRM and the portal developed by LSI, to meet specific requirements of the customer. We believe there are many more ‘non manufacturing’ applications that could benefit from this approach”.