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Case 3 – Production Planning & Scheduling – Basic Information Missing


Becoming aware that there was significant excess capacity at a facility, or more correctly we thought that the capacity we had was not being used properly, we decided to implement a capacity planning application that would allow us to more effectively utilize the equipment / assets that we had.  In this case, the project was initiated within the Corporate Industrial Engineering Department. They were the custodians of all the documentation & information concerning the equipment. Based on their information, which of course was correct (they, after all, controlled all engineering projects & upgrades), we started loading the data required into the integrated application. It soon became apparent that we did not have enough data. Modern Integrated Capacity Planning systems had more sophisticated data requirements that the information collected during the course of our Industrial Engineers’ duties. This was very obvious concerning some of the older packaging equipment we were using. Not quite pre-war but close. Very little information, other than, extremely basic, was available about the oldest equipment.


Once we had identified the data elements that the system required, we initiated a shop floor review. Engineers performed studies on how the equipment was running to gather the performance metrics that were required. While we were doing this, we also compared the physical plant to the engineering drawings. We were considering an implementation of an Enterprise Asset Management system in the future and we knew that application required the physical location of the equipment for scheduling maintenance rounds effectively.


The results were quite interesting. We had equipment on the drawings that had not existed in twenty years, equipment that existed that had not made it the drawings, pipes that went through walls that did not actually exist and many unaccounted nooks & crannies that had not made it into the plans. Of course we also had all permutations of missing documents for existing equipment and documents for obsolete & retired equipment. Overall it took the engineering group about one year to complete and update the physical layout plan of the facility along with updating their own document database with the current as built / as modified & current performance characteristics. Once we had the performance characteristics we could then perform capacity planning & analysis which was the start of the project.


And yes, we did see significant improvement in production through put once we were able to integrate the production schedule with the capacity information. We also found out that with a very small investment we could double our throughput for one product. The softrware had identified a new unexpected choke point.


Of course, we then went onto the Maintenance area to check their documentation for the equipment, but that is another story. Overall, it would have been much easier with one central integrated document management system that could control all the various documents which were needed across all the departments.

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