As the window industry as a whole embraces Internet technology to
support sales and promotion activities, Premier Profiles commercial
director Dave Mulholland examines how the latest IT can help
improve efficiencies within the profile manufacturing process.
just in tim
e
In an increasingly competitive sector,
fabricators and installers face growing
customer demand for the highest
quality products supplied at
competitive prices in the shortest
possible timescales. The onus falls
on extruders to ensure that they can
meet the requirements of their
fabricator network. To achieve this
successfully, not only must leading
manufacturers operate a policy of
stringent product quality assessment,
but they must also assess the
efficiency of their manufacturing
processes
on an ongoing basis.
Premier Profiles extrudes around
25million metres of profile every year, and
Investments totalling several million pounds
during the last couple of years – in
machinery, tooling, delivery fleet and staff,
for example – have helped to support the
productions of top quality product. However,
there were still areas in which efficiency
could be further enhanced.
To manufacture such large
quantities of profile every year requires
thousands of tonnes of raw materials,
including dry blend, stabilisers and filler.
Previously, the level of ra w materials in each
silo was monitored from Premier’s state-of-
the-art mixer room by dedicated members of
staff, whose responsibility it was to instigate
replenishment of stocks as necessary.
Although the system worked well, the issue
of costs (staff employed on shifts,
telephone/fax to generate deliveries) was
compounded by inefficiency and
susceptibility to human frailties: Sickness
could lead to staffing problems; even a
simple lapse in concentration or reading
error had the potential to cause a silo to run
critically low.
Premier’s project engineer, Chris
Earl, whose experience lay in improving the
operational efficiency of supply chains, took
responsibility for assessing the situation and
advising on how it could be improved.
Following a period of research and
consultation with engineers and raw material
suppliers, Premier became the first PVC-
U extruder to install a new, computerised
inventory management system from
specialist supplier ADOPT-FIT.
Chris Earl explained: “The GIM (Global
Inventory management) system from
ADOPT-FIT is a proven solution in multi-
national manufacturing companies. If
works by linking sensors in the silos
directly to a dedicated Inventory
Management PC installed at each supplier
via a telephone or internet link, making it
the responsibility of the supplier to monitor
product levels and arrange deliveries in
plenty of time. GIM’s overall simplicity
meant it took only two days to implement,
including installation of the outstations and
connection to the internet through a mini-
switchboard.
“The system has several alarm
triggers which notify the supplier if the
product drops to certain pre-determined
levels, thus removing the element of
human error. As an extra precaution, the
system also alerts staff at Premier if
product falls below set levels and we have
not been notified of a delivery, prompting
us to make a phone call to our supplier to
check status. So far, I’m pleased to
report, the system has worked
tremendously well and this has not been
necessary.”
The GIM system benefits
suppliers (whose staff were trained by
ADOPT-FIT in its use) by providing them
with control of re-order and contingency
stock, enabling them to plan deliveries
around busy periods and maximise
the efficiency of their own logistics.
Access to the data is secured through
password protected links or – a more
recent development – the Internet (e-GIM)
which provides frequent real-time data
updates, and suppliers can vie w reports in
various formats including historical view,
real-time vie w and level alarms.
The benefits to Premier Profiles
are numerous. Chris Earl added: “The
new GIM system controls around 97% of
Premier’s total raw material tonnage. By
enabling our suppliers to maintain our ra w
material stock at optimum levels, we have
effectively implemented a Just-In-Time
method of manufacturing: a highly efficient
process which eliminates the requirement
for excess storage of materials and helps
to ensure the integrity of the final extruded
product.
“Not only have we been able to
optimise the allocation of resource in
manufacturing, but we have also improved
efficiency within the purchasing
department: For example, by eliminating
emergency orders and generally
improving communications with our
suppliers. Perhaps most importantly, the
members of staff who were previously
responsible for monitoring and ordering
raw materials are now directly involved in
materials research and product
development – a far more beneficial use
of their time and expertise.”
Ultimately, the reduction of
administrative burden and re-direction of
valuable technical resource benefits
Premier’s nation-wide network of
fabricators. Every saving from
improvements in efficiency – both in time
and financial terms – is ploughed back
into the company, helping to support
research into and development of new
products, quick and efficient manufacture
and delivery, and maintaining the highest
levels of product quality – all of which
helps fabricators to meet the demands of
their own customers.
PVC-U SYSTEMS FEATURE –
Contact :Premier Profiles +44 (1302) 311200
ADOPT-FIT Ltd +44 (870) 740 4826