Shrinking costs, staying competitive while providing timely delivery to customers does not have to be a complex process—but it is one that is well beyond the scope of most ERP systems with their rudimentary shop scheduling and production tracking capabilities.

Accurate and optimized production scheduling in plastic molding & extrusion is a requirement for ensuring on time customer delivery. As outlined in our article about what manufacturers can learn from Amazon, an APS/MES Advanced Planning and Scheduling along with a Manufacturing Execution System is mandatory for plastic molding companies looking for improved on-time delivery performance. Here are a few reasons why your plastic molding operations will run better with an APS/MES system.

1. Use Capable-to-Promise

Fast delivery of products to customers is a key factor in the successful operation of plastic manufacturing. Knowing, not “guesstimating”, the shortest realistic time for shipment is greatly enhanced with an APS feature known as Capable-to-Promise or simply CTP. All that is required is the customer part and quantity. The system does all the work…

  • reads the BOM,
  • calculates production time at all the associated routing steps,
  • knows the factory floor constraints (molds, labor, machines) for each step,
  • checks the shifts schedule for available time and
  • verifies all necessary raw materials are (or will be) available.

If you think you might benefit from this new CTP technology take this simple test… click here to take the test.

2. Include Tools with Job Schedules

Tooling—along with the presses—is one of the most vital parts of the plastic molding process. It makes sense that a plastic molding company would want to verify the availability of each mold and make it central to the creation of its work schedules. When it’s time to set up the next job in production, it’s too late to discover that the necessary tooling is unavailable, requires maintenance or has been taken for another job.

ERP systems treat tooling like an afterthought. Often tooling is just a note on a BOM or routing. To get around the problem of scheduling tooling in ERP, some companies enter it as a part number on the routing, but this is a cumbersome work around that leads to unnecessary inventory transactions and complicated accounting processes and still does not guarantee it will be available at job time.

Plastic parts manufacturing is a multiple constraint (machines, tools, labor) based scheduling environment, not the materials based planning found in an ERP system. It is far better to work with shop floor scheduling software designed to help plastics parts manufacturing that has tooling constraints build in as a core part of the work scheduling process.

3. Expand Real Time Data Collection

Improve on-time delivery performance with accurate customer delivery information that relies on real time shop floor scheduling combined with data collection. A MES system collects data and updates the system in real time, using a variety of newer data collection methodologies that go beyond older style bar codes, and includes easy-to-use intuitive touch screens and direct machine data capture (such as OEE ) and automation for recipe management and historian with our integration with Ignition.

An MES should collect not only “accounting” data but “performance” information as well. This should be accomplished without the need of paper based documents. Paperless manufacturing, starting with a paperless dispatch parts “To Do” lists enables paperless reporting, helping to support your green initiatives while improving visibility, control and saving money.

WIP tracking software should incorporate real-time information that is actionable and allows production management to act quickly to resolve a problem. The presses can be adjusted before excessive amounts of scrap are produced. Tooling can be removed for repair if necessary and the next available job moved up in the priority list. A skilled operator may be sent to the work station to deal with flashing removal or add on components. Whatever the solution, it’s imperative to have the information about problems in real time so valuable production time isn’t wasted producing high cost scrap.

To find out more about what an APS can do for your company, contact us here.