Asprova Opened Our Eyes. Thanks to It We Were Able to Reduce Our Stock by 50%

Petra Troblová Aimtec
4. 5. 2015 | 8 minutes reading

The Futaba Czech company started an implementation of the Asprova system for advanced planning and production controlling in April 2014. It has been fully relying on this APS system since the beginning of 2015. „Our well-proven system became a pioneer of Asprova implementation across all branches of Futaba globally,“ responds Radek Slanař, general manager of Futaba Czech, whose production portfolio includes moulding, welding and painting of parts for the automotive industry.

Could you to specify more exactly the production program of Futaba Czech?

We are a Japanese engineering company that manufactures its products mainly from steel, and our supplies are directed primarily to the automotive industry. Our commodities are parts of the bodywork, exhausts, reinforcements of dashboards and functional parts, such as chassis parts for the car axles. 60 % of our products are manufactured for the TPCA car manufacturer, which makes it our largest customer. Other customers are Toyota in France, Suzuki in Hungary and PSA in France. We are also supplying our products to Faurecia or John Deer. Futaba turnover is approximately CZK 3 billion, and we employ 850 workers, of which 250 are agency workers. We are a subsidiary of Japanese Futaba Industrial Co., Ltd.

We have implemented Asprova, a system for advanced production planning and management, recently. What were the main reasons for this solution?

Two years ago, we started to evaluate the system data, and we ascertained gradually, that our current ERP system under the name of FCZ, which we had from our headquarters, did not manage to process large data volumes that came from our customers, predominantly in the form of orders and forecasts. At the same time, we realized that if we got a new project, the data volume would increase even more. Production planning was carried out using pencil-paper-Excel, which required a lot of manual labour and many planners. Yet we were not able to provide our suppliers with a stable purchasing plan. Therefore, a decision was accepted in 2013 to invite tenderers for a production planning system delivery.

How did you select the product for APS and the solution supplier?

We chose the APS solution from two systems. A product from Microsoft was one of them, and the second was Asprova. Finally, we decided for Asprova and Aimtec as for the supplier. The APS system was the simplest one for planners from our perspective, and it was more flexible in terms of integration with our existing systems. The advantage was that Asprova is a Japanese system, and also that we already had implemented projects of warehouse management and data collection with Aimtec.

Does the head office in Japan use Asprova?

Our mother company does not use the Asprova system yet, so Futaba Czech becomes a pioneer in the implementation of Asprova across all Futaba subsidiaries globally. Currently, they speak about us in our group considerably, and other subsidiaries (e.g. from China, Indonesia and the USA) are interested in our results, what measures Asprova requires and what the savings are.

Does the APS system cover all production areas?

Yes, we are planning the whole production thanks to Asprova. We have three main processes – painting, welding and moulding. Customers can order parts from all mentioned processes. Most requests from customers are targeted to welding, which represents about 95 % of the total volume of work. In terms of production planning, the critical point is our moulding plant, because it produces all input parts for welding.

Over what time horizon do you plan the production? How does the usual work of a scheduler look like?

We are planning in the short-term horizon in Asprova now, with a perspective of one week, and in medium-term horizon for three weeks. In the future, we plan to expand the system for long-term planning, too. In terms of short-term planning, we compile a plan for welding on Wednesday and for moulding on Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, the plans are ready and we are passing the purchase requirements. We use Monday and Tuesday for other activities, e.g. the planner goes into the production and checks that the production plans are observed correctly. The planner also performs analyses of forecasts from customers in order to know, what we can expect in the future. We have a regular daily meeting with production managers; these meetings are also attended by quality managers and production engineers, who provide planners with information about new projects they want to realise on the original machines, or they are solving special customer requirements. Planners transmit the acquired information into the Asprova system to generate a production plan.

Inventory reduction by 50 % belongs among the main benefits.

What are the main benefits of APS utilisation?

Inventory reduction by 50 % belongs among the main benefits. A production lot contains one thousand pieces. In the past, we had 2–3 lots; we have only one lot now. The system is set up in a way that we purchase one lot and we produce the required components of it immediately. We had material supplies for 2 days in the past; nowadays, we have supplies for 6 hours. The number of planners decreased from four to two. We planned manually in Excel, and we had three planners on the day shift and one on night in the past. We reduced the number of stocktakings in the hall to one a week, so we save 20 hours per week on the stocktaking works. Stocktaking lasted 4 hours daily in the past. After Asprova integration with the MES system, we will not do stocktaking at all; we will do one comparative stocktaking each 14 days at maximum. Another benefit of Asprova is production and quality stabilization.

Does the APS deployment affect your suppliers?

Yes, surely. From Asprova, we are able to generate purchasing plan for a week in advance and to give it to our suppliers, at present. Based on our needs, the suppliers can adjust their production plans and schedules of deliveries. Suppliers accept this change very positively, e.g. because the labour input for processing our purchase orders decreased.

What are the future plans in the production and logistics areas?

We consider the Asprova integration with DCIxMES system, which we are using for machine data collection, as our primary plan. We have expanded the DCIxMES system from two welding lines to ten moulding lines, and we intend to transfer the data collected from these machines to Asprova to eliminate the human factor completely from these activities. Another our objective is to adjust Asprova to contain all orders and forecasts in the system and to be able to work with the priorities of orders. We want to use the module in Asprova (Sales Order), which, if there is any order, plans according to the order, and if no order exists, the module uses the appropriate forecast. The main reason is more accurate planning despite frequent changes in orders and forecasts from our customers. Further enhancements of the functionality concern visualization of input material for production coverage and potential delays or production stoppage. Another planned project is a plan visualization directly on machines in production. Especially logistics will have information, which part of the plan is already produced, how much must be produced and when the production will change. This prevents potential downtimes due to missing material and input components.

Production started to follow the plan actually

Did the competences in production and logistics change?

Production started to follow the plan actually. Previously, we generated a plan for each day; the plan contains the production information for the whole week now, and it must be fulfilled at the end of the period. If any delay occurs, the production has to find its way, how to adhere to the approved plan. In terms of logistics, Asprova plans according to Heijunka, which means that it still holds stock on a predetermined level.

What could you recommend to companies that would like to deploy a system for production planning? Should you decide once more, would you choose the APS project implementation again?

If the company has available correct input data, it is advantageous during this implementation. However, I dare to say, that most companies do not have it, and in such cases, the APS deployment is challenging. Together with my colleague, we spent a lot of time correcting the input data. Indeed, I would not wish it to anyone. Asprova has opened our eyes and thanks to it, we have discovered a number of errors in the original system, which we had been using for 10 years before. For example, we did not have current information on line cycles, number of operators, engineering and manufacturing processes. But for any company, it is desirable to establish order in master data. Considering the clear benefits and production stabilisation, I would start the project again.

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