These days, IT-based automation has become a staple in businesses that are looking to move forward and grow.
In one of our previous posts, we discussed how BALANCED+ helped Nuform Building Technologies Inc., a leader in wall forming systems, digitalize data collection for a particular production process. Our work with Nuform did not stop there – impressed with the result, Nuform decided to explore other opportunities of making IT-based improvements to business processes.
The Need: Keeping a Tight Schedule
The use of any resource in a production process must be managed. As production specialists know, that applies first and foremost to the bottleneck – the “weakest link” in a production system, which requires the longest time in operations of the supply chain.
The Nuform production process starts with extrusion of PVC panels through devices called “extrusion lines”. Each extrusion line requires significant time for power-up, shutdown, and setup operations between different types of extrusion jobs. Each extrusion job requires significant time (~24 hours) to produce and is scheduled for production up to 3 weeks or more in the future.
The old process of scheduling jobs on extrusion lines was:
- entirely manual – entered by hand in a spreadsheet;
- not easily accessible – the spreadsheet was stored in a remote file share;
- required complex knowledge of over 100 (!) different extrusion dies that are used for production to calculate production time;
- took the time of a single full time employee to enter, update and manage the schedule.
Nuform identified the following business need for improving the scheduling process:
- Automation: the new scheduling system should automate data entry as much as possible by integrating with existing databases and simplifying the entry and calculation process.
- Transparency: the system should provide cross-platform visibility of extrusion operations and schedule with minimal lag.
- Flexibility: the system should allow to easily manage situations where changes in the schedule are required to satisfy customer need.
BALANCED+ delivered a solution through the following steps:
- A Commit100 IT business analyst spent time learning the current scheduling process, from A to Z, including shadow sessions with the Nuform associates who are involved in the process. This allowed to get a clear picture of what happens “in the field” – a clear understanding of the actual, existing business process.
- Based on analysis, BALANCED+ defined an optimised business process and approved it with Nuform production managers.
- The new business process was used by BALANCED+to design the user interface and prepare specifications of the new application.
- The application was developed by a software development team managed by BALANCED+
- After rigorous user acceptance testing, BALANCED+ integrated the scheduling application into the existing IT infrastructure and business processes at Nuform.
The result was a web-based application called Extrusion Production Scheduling. The customer needed app accessibility from a wide range of platforms and locations, so a web-based solution was the clear choice. The application was deployed on a Windows server and integrated with the existing database.
The app is integrated with the Nuform ERP system. Every time a job is released for production, the scheduling operator receives an alert with buttons to quickly schedule the job or dismiss the alert.
When the operator goes to create a new job, they would see the Job Queue, which lists all jobs that have been released for production.
The app significantly simplified the data entry process and automated time and production buffer calculation, which the operator had to manually do before. The application formalised several different order types to quickly schedule orders based on priority.
The web-based solution allows Nuform production staff to quickly and easily access the Scheduling system and monitor current events from any device and any location that has an internet connection.
By automating their production scheduling process, Nuform Building Technologies Inc. has been able to improve their operations and keep their business moving forward. With the help of BALANCED+’s IT consulting services, they were able to find an optimal solution that met their specific needs. If you’re looking to improve your business processes and streamline operations, consider reaching out to BALANCED+ for IT consulting services.