Mundelein, IL. Interplant production visibility and control at Rexam Medical Packaging took a major leap forward in January as three separate PRMS facilities were consolidated into a single environment. By leveraging ATOMIC’s multi-plant features, Rexam’s separate manufacturing operations in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois were able to combine their shops into a single database while still retaining their unique plant-specific ATOMIC environments. With plant-to-plant WIP constituting a sizable and growing portion of Rexam’s manufacturing business, continuing to treat each plant as a separate customer or vendor was becoming cumbersome. In early 2001, Rexam management decided it was time to stop looking at each plant as a separate profit center and focus instead on consolidating departments and evaluating the collective facilities as a whole.
Dubbed “Project SPEED” (Systems and Processes that Exceed Expectations and Delight our Customers), Rexam began planning in August for a major overhaul of part numbers, routers, structures, customer numbers, vendor numbers, etc., to allow for the consolidation of inventory, production and sales data into a single database. “It was important to get all the plants speaking the same language,” said Sharon Schuyler, project manager. “Even though they were all using PRMS and ATOMIC, each plant had its own way of doing things that made it difficult to analyze information at a corporate level. So Project SPEED aimed to both streamline the flow of product between plants and make it easier to work as one company.”
Rexam considered using multi-plant PRMS to solve their interplant distribution issues, but didn’t like the execution of the multi-member environment and particular nuances of DRP. So Rexam opted instead to treat each plant simply as a separate warehouse and let ATOMIC handle the scheduling of interplant demand and control the distribution of plant-to-plant material. “We really liked the shop floor control and execution ATOMIC provided within each of our sites, but we were wasting time and resources doing business with ourselves just to move material from one plant to another,” said Schuyler. “We really just wanted to roll the plant scheduling and execution options ATOMIC already provided for each facility into a single, collective mode that could handle all the plants together seamlessly.” With a massive push in the final quarter to standardize just about everything, the consolidation project finished on time to greet Rexam employees returning to work for the new year. Although PRMS data had been changed drastically across the board, each Rexam facility was able to retain its unique, plant-specific ATOMIC execution functions by using the multi-plant features introduced in version 2.1 of ATOMIC.
Retaining a consistent look and feel on the shop floor helped to minimize the “shock” of the change to production workers without sacrificing the original objectives of the consolidation. And the newfound ability to view scheduling dependencies for work orders between plants quickly provided many dividends to production coordinators, making machine scheduling for interplant work orders considerably easier to manage. “It used to be kind of tedious to figure out when manufactured material was going to be available from one of the other plants,” said Michelle Welty, production planner. “Now I can look at any scheduled work order and see right away when the material is expected to complete at one of the other facilities. This makes it much simpler to sequence the jobs on my machines in line with what’s happening at the other plants.”
With its environments now completely consolidated, Rexam is no longer burdened with treating each plant as a separate and independent entity. Movement of material from one plant to another now only requires a simple “from/to” transaction, and with the ATOMIC multi-plant features activated, shipping personnel receive the packing slips and bills of lading required to drive the shipping process without necessitating the creation of a customer order or replenishment order. Material in transit to other plants is visible to all facilities in a single session through conventional PRMS inventory inquiries and is no longer hidden from MRP. “ Receiving shipments from the other internal Rexam facilities now is a piece of cake,” said Scott Hammond, receiving clerk. “I just scan the ticket and, presto, it’s in my warehouse! We should have done this a long time ago!”