Implementing effective planning and scheduling system

Posted on 18 May 2022 by The Manufacturer

ETEM Gestamp is an aluminium extrusion company in Southeastern Europe. The company has over 50 years of experience in the design and production of aluminium profiles. ETEM Gestamp specialises in aluminium profile extrusion for different sectors – automotive, architectural and industrial.

Expanding expertise on aluminium extrusion

It produces aluminium components for the automotive industry and is a tier-1 supplier of international automotive industry leaders, such as BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Daimler, etc.

The company’s manufacturing facilities reside in Bulgaria with a surface area exceeding 39,000 square meters. ETEM Gestamp guarantees constant and uninterrupted delivery of its products with an annual capacity that and soon will reach 50.000 tons per year. Its production is certified under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)  9001-2000, ISO 45001, ISO 14001 and International Automotive Task Force (IATF) 16949 and is compliant with the strictest European and international standards.

ETEM Gestamp is constantly developing its technological expertise and facilities to provide an expanding range of products in its two production directions – profiles for different industries and car manufacturing being already one of the most technological advanced automobile industry suppliers.

Enhancing synchronisation between departments

The production processes in aluminium extrusions, surface treatments, additional treatments and automotive departments have separate requirements. ETEM Gestamp’s Opcenter Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software implementation project started with a detailed analysis of all the production sectors. Opcenter APS is part of the Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software.

The company’s lack of an effective planning and scheduling system led to poor synchronisation between its departments. The schedule was often based on the subjective perspective of individual planners without considering the possible negative effects at the global level. This resulted in many changeovers and uncertainty regarding the production process. There was no reliable mechanism for considering the capacity of all required and available resources, such as primary resources, materials and tools. This often led to late deliveries.

Each department needs to have fast and adequate reactions in case of unexpected/unplanned events, such as breakdowns, lack of dies/materials or urgent orders. The recovery and synchronisation of the production schedule was a difficult task as it required a lot of time and was not effective.

Minimising waste and achieving on-time delivery

The project included the implementation of Siemens Opcenter AS (Preactor AS) as well as the development of additional functionalities for direct connection with the equipment and bi-directional integration with SAP.

The focus of the implementation project was to minimise waste and achieve on-time deliveries. The synchronisation is very important as the extrusion plant delivers mill finished profiles to the automotive plant. Siemens’ solution partner, SmartApps Ltd. made a detailed analysis of the production processes and waste types and developed sophisticated optimisation algorithms for sequencing production orders.

The direct connection with the equipment and integration with SAP enables the planner to perform real-time scheduling, generate an accurate schedule and clear view of the future to identify potential problems, prevent issues and minimise negative results. The solution provides tools for fast reactions to unexpected situations/unplanned events.

Opcenter APS enables ETEM Gestamp to rapidly and precisely determine the dates and consider the capacity of all required resources, their current load, as well as the provision of materials and tools. This enhanced the relationships with customers and increased the corporate reputation.

There is also an option for what-if analyses if the calculated date does not coincide with the customer’s expectation, to find the best solution for on-time deliveries. SmartApps created an exceptional process for communication and traceability between planning and sales departments.

The project scope has been expanded with a long-term planning functionality based on Opcenter APS.  The development provides visibility over a long-term horizon for the expected demand and required resource capacity. The solution provides the option for strategic decision making for the capacity, labour and raw material deliveries. It also reserves resource capacity for specific product categories/customers. Therefore, there is a smooth transition between long-term planning and short-term scheduling.

Enhancing data collaboration and communication

Opcenter APS has become the strategic instrument for ETEM Gestamp’s plants to optimise their production processes. The software synchronises the different departments and plants, providing excellent data collaboration and communication.

ETEM Gestamp has gained a significant increase in productivity due to the improved visibility. The changeovers have been minimised by 25% due to the optimal sequence of production orders. Late deliveries have been significantly reduced due to precisely defined initial terms and better execution control. Additionally, ETEM Gestamp has reduced the scraps from all the presses by 10% and increased the productivity of the all the presses by five percent.

The whole data synchronisation and scheduling procedure takes about 15 minutes, which enables frequent planning and scheduling when necessary.

SmartApps developed a functionality for load balancing providing opportunity for optimal resource usage, considering not only the preferred resources by technology but also the alternative options. This helps solidify on-time delivery.

“With Siemens Opcenter APS, we have a reliable instrument for production scheduling. We can meet deadlines, minimise waste and increase our resource efficiency,” stated Savvas Bogatinis, Production Technologies Director at ETEM Gestamp.

“SmartApps demonstrated deep knowledge of our production processes, profound expertise of the Opcenter APS system and scheduling optimisation algorithms development. Now, the production schedule is fully compliant with our corporate policy and we are confident that the rules are applied systematically without any interruptions. SmartApps became a reliable partner and an important and integrated part of our growth, transformation and desire for further improvement.”