Global Case Study
Opcenter (Preactor) APS
Trety implements Preactor for its automotive supply chain solution
Trety, S.A. is a company that belongs to the French Trèves Group. The Trèves Group was founded in France the year 1836. Originally it was a familiar group that dedicated its first activities in the automotive parts sector. The Group in Spain is employs more than 3.000 people, with a global team of more than 6.600 employees, has an income of more than €240m, and is one of the leaders in the automotive sector. The global income in 2001 was €850m.
The operations area in the Iberia Peninsula is made of more than 10 plants. Trety make textile based components for automobiles. Working for customers such as Citroën, Peugeot, Renault, and Volkswagen, the Trèves Group manufactures seats, head-rests, “moquettes”, trays, carpets, and generally, any component with textile or skin parts inside a car.
There are basically two types of manufacturing activities with clear differences. On one hand there is the fabrication of seats, head-rests, covers and other textile components, and on the other hand there is the business unit dedicated to the production of “moquettes”, trays, carpets and sound insulators. The first one of these activities is also subdivided in two business units, basically by its operative differences.
The Preactor solution was initially focused to cover the integration requirements of the first one of the previously described activities, that is, to produce an integrated planning of the 2 business units of components and seats, on one side, and textile on the other.
On this operational environment, the manufacturing activities are divided in four or five basic phases.
The first operation is the foaming of the textile fabric. This operation joins different materials (normally one of them is fabric) in a single layer which is the base, for instance, of a car head-rest. After that, the next process is the cutting of that material into the different pieces that are the parts of the kit that eventually will be sewed. The third process is the sewing of the pieces. Normally this operation is not carried out in the headquarters of Trety in Spain. Optionally there is a fourth operation before the last operation, known as the process of inserting a rod inside the head rest. The last operation consists of injecting foam into the cover, which is made in a very specific type of machinery known as carousels.
There are specific inherent problems to the manufacturing of internal textile components.
One of the main problems is the huge difference in planning horizon between customers and suppliers. The customers have only a confirmed plan of 3 days, but the textile suppliers must have a demand plan several weeks.
Another important specific problem is the product mix. While the consumption forecasts from some customers are quite good in terms of volume, there are significant short term variations related to the production mix. For example the forecast demand is 1,000 head-rests for the next week, from 5 different colors, with the same quantity of each (200 of each color), it is possible that, 4 days before the delivery, the actual requirement is 500 units from one specific color.
In this environment, it is essential that the first operations start against a several weeks horizon, while the finishing operations have a refined and updated set of delivery instructions.
Finally, another specific issue that makes even more difficult the operations inside Trety is the product life cycle. A few years ago, their manufactured products had a life cycle period much longer than they have now. That has been measured for a specific moment and, while in less than two years the production volume had increased a 25%, in the same period, the number of sales lines orders had jumped to an increment of 68%, so the product mix was much more complicated to manage.
The main objectives of the implementation of Preactor were focused on the rationalization of the relationship between the business units and the interactions between them. The goal was to give the company a planning tool to ease the dialog between the business units, which would highlight the current and future delivery problems and, at the same time, provide a tool that would offer an easy way to make decisions focused to solve those problems.
At the end it was really an issue to provide objective tools to deal with objective problems (lack of capacity, sudden demand changes, breakdowns, materials shortages, etc.), but that until that time, were tried to be solved in a uncoordinated and inefficient way.
Initially an analysis was carried out on several systems that could meet the needs of Trety’s. A deep examination of the available tools in the market was made. This analysis was a continuation of a process that Trety had started some years before. Initially Trety chose another scheduling tool that proved to be enough to cover a basic level of functionality and, most important, to start the cultural change inside the company related to the need of working with high quality and detailed information.
However, and after going deeper inside Trety’s requirements, it was clear that the software used until then was inadequate and Preactor was chosen to replace it. The main improvements that Preactor offered were:
- To be able to work in a multi-plant environment, using Preactor standard code and functions.
- To be able to work, in a single scenario, with sales orders, work orders, purchase stocks and requisitions, without loosing traceability between them.
- Work with an unlimited number of operations.
- Flexibility from Preactor to be adapted to some specific Trety’s requirements without the need to modify Preactor’s core code and then offer easy software migrations.
- Flexibility from Preactor International to listen to Trety’s recommendations and suggestions and include them (some in a very short term) to Preactor’s standard functionality or wish list.
The project of implementing Preactor in Trety was comparatively short, using most of the work done previously by Trety’s IT staff, such as routines used to extract information from their custom made ERP the information used by the previous scheduling tool. Implementation was finished in less than 6 months, this being a joint effort between Trety’s IT staff, as well as by Binary Technologies’ consultants and programmers.
Regarding this issue, it is important to notice the degree of professionalism of Binary Technologies’ consultants, who were aware of the big efforts Trety had made in their previous experiences and also that it was imperative to build on those efforts to achieve the goals of improvement they had previously defined.
Preactor is working in Trety linked to the homemade ERP solution called Trèves Iberia. This software is also linked with other solutions, such a shop floor data collection that informs in real time of what the situation of the plant is. The interface between Preactor & Trèves Iberia is made twice a day, at the end of the night shift and at the end of the day shift. The goal is to have a plan with the maximum available quality both at the beginning of the first and second shift, including all possible changes to the different parameters (demand, stocks, suppliers’ orders, breakdowns etc).
The impact of implementing Preactor in Trety has been remarkable, especially considering the volume of information dealt with (depending on the season, over 50,000 planned operations, twice a day), and the distance between the productive work centers, some of them more than 1,000 kilometers away from each other.
The system controls and decides, depending on the capacities of all work centres, the availability and location of the components required for the fabrication, the time required to go and return from the plants, and the speed of manufacturing, where is the best place to produce every single work order. The rule, adapted to Trety’s requirement, can also be modified, for instance, to minimize the idle time in a specific work centre. The output from Preactor provides a production and transportation plan between the facilities which is feasible, in accordance with the business rules of the company and, last but not least, guarantees the maximum service level for customers.
In addition, apart from the daily schedules, another medium-long term plan is generated with quite different objectives. In this case the priorities of the company are to dimension the capacity of the work centres in order to accomplish the customers and sales department forecasts. Another main use of this functionality is to coordinate the training plans of the staff, to ensure the versatility of the staff in dealing with products where more demand is expected.
The benefits of Preactor’s implementation are in several areas:
- Sudden reduction of the cost of extra delivery transport. Doubtlessly, a huge return of the investment has been achieved in this area. The measurements for specific periods prove that, for similar levels of invoicing, the reduction of the cost of extra delivery transport is higher than 80%. Not only it has been achieved that customers pay some extra transports in specific conditions, when it is clear that the extra transport is caused by unforeseen demand variations, but also can be obtained that the customer pays for the extra labor required to cover the unexpected demand (Saturdays, extra shifts, …).
- Reduction of intermediate stock levels. Previously to the implementation of Preactor there were high levels of stock between the different processes and business units, whose main goal was to cover all possible inefficiencies and slow reaction times against sudden changes in demand. Working in a more reasonable and integrated way, it has been possible reduce in a very important way the stock level of semi finished goods.
- Working with a single production plan all around the company. That has provided the visibility across all the processes and has reduced the inefficiencies caused by not having a global vision.
“The service level offered by Binary Technologies was very satisfactory”, comments Alberto Cárceles, Director of Organisation and Systems of Trety and Supply Chain Project Manager of the Trèves Group. “Since the first moment we valued in them a high level of professionalism and specialization in the Planning area that was the best complement to the kind of project we needed to undertake. We not only value their high technical skills in the solutions developed, but what is sometimes more difficult to find, professionals able to help us to implement those solutions that have proved to show a high level of adaptation to our specific industry”.
“Since the very first moment we imagined this Project as something that could have a global dimension, a best practice that could be exported to the entire Group, of course, previously it was required to show that the product was, de facto, valid. When all internal reluctances were overcome, and it was probed, several times that Preactor was the only valid way to work in the operations area, then the software became something absolutely essential for the daily work.”
“That is why, at the present, we are already finishing the implementation of Preactor in our facilities in Portugal and also we have short term plans to implement the software in the first factory in France.”