Wide offer of Torf CorporationTorf Corporation (owner of the tołpa® brand) is a company with over 30 years of experience. It offers facial and body care cosmetics and oral care products under its own brand and its customers’ brands. Currently, its portfolio includes over 700 active indexes of finished products. The products comprise a base of over 2,000 components and 800 raw materials, and the packaging base totals 1,200 different formats. PET packaging of various shapes and capacities, glass jars, laminate tubes and plastic and aluminium tubes of various diameters and formats are used. In addition, some products are packed in cartons of different sizes. Every month, 3 million finished products leave the factory, manufactured on 20 mass production machines and packed on 16 packaging lines.
The mass production department and the confectionery department: how to combine them?Torf Corporation has two departments, the mass production department and the packing department. As mass production and packing were planned separately, the biggest challenge to the company and to eq system experts was to synchronise these processes in relation to meeting demand (fulfilling customer orders). The functioning of the two departments would suggest that the production process at Torf was simple. The reality is quite different, because the process involves precise weighing of ingredients and additives, the production of the mass itself in appropriately selected homogenisers, finally packaging in various forms of packaging and—often—picking other products to complete one set. Then, there are the washing, disinfection and changeover processes at each stage of production, which change dynamically depending on the SKUs produced. The plans of the two departments had to be constantly reconciled and verified with each other, all the more so as each department pursued its own performance targets. The desire to synchronise processes meant that unnecessary buffers were made between them. Another thing to bear in mind is that the equipment in the weighing department and the equipment in the packaging department have different capacities and throughputs. In such a situation, it was extremely important to correctly select resources with appropriate capacities in relation to the volume of demand. It was impossible to optimise the selection of these plants manually. The planning system had to reconcile the interests of both departments and enable automatic generation of a single plan, taking into account all process limitations while optimising the use of resources. What was needed was a tool that would visualise the entire production process—from the first operation to the last operation—and, simultaneously, simplify it considerably.
Reducing changeover timesSynchronisation of processes, appropriate demand for raw materials and consumables at a given time, optimal allocation of resources to the process, minimisation of changeovers, shortening of the production cycle, appropriate level of work in progress: these are all parameters which influence the efficiency of a production process. Its visualisation is an additional value which enables quick assessment of the plan quality. One of the most important parameters that Torf Corporation cared about was the adjustment (reduction) of changeovers in relation to the production profile. In the cosmetics industry, this is of great importance, in the mass production and in packaging processes. Thus, it was necessary to look at these two processes comprehensively. The changeovers resulting from the large number of packaging forms, as well as reduced order volumes and increased order frequency, had to be synchronised with the changeovers resulting from the nature of the production process of mass. This involved, for example, limiting the number of changeovers, which in the case of Torf are dynamic. They are, therefore, not a fixed time between individual operations. Depending on which raw material or packaging is switched from one to the next, changeover times vary. Hence, it was necessary to make a changeover matrix to illustrate this process. This is reflected in the planning process, providing opportunities for optimisation. The variety of packaging requires continuous changeover of the machines. This leads to situations where changeovers take longer than the packaging process itself. An example of this is a sachet machine, where many sachet formats are used. Changeover on the machine lasts several hours, while packing or production of mass for a given demand, several times shorter. Several changeover matrices have been developed at Torf Corporation. With such a variety of packaging and formulations, it would be impossible to make and manage one matrix for changeovers from one product to another: it would have several thousand rows! Therefore, it was verified which process parameters were variable and how their change affected the changeover time. Currently, the APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) system for production planning, based on process parameters, detects which parameter is subject to change (e.g. colour, tool and material) and determines the changeover time. Changeover matrices show how a change in one parameter affects the changeover time. If a parameter is not changed, no changeover takes place. Thus, the APS system for production planning, by analysing the set time horizon, can find tasks with the same parameters and place them in a single sequence of orders to avoid changeovers. In addition, the APS system makes it possible to carry out a process analysis: the arrangement of an appropriate, optimal sequence of changing individual parameters, which affects the sequence of production orders.
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Grouping by mass indexAt every stage of production, it is possible to group and optimise the same operations, not only at the initial stage, e.g. in terms of ingredients for mass production, but also in packing processes. What does grouping by mass index look like at Torf Corporation? When planning the production of a facial cream in a jar, we also plan the amount of mass that will be distributed as free samples in sachets. The fact that these are free samples is very important. I should say the process itself should be set up in such a way as to minimise the cost of producing these samples. Thus, the order for the production of the mass is accumulated according to the same formulation and, then, distributed to the packing equipment (the creamer to fill the jar and the sachet machine to dose the sample). Until now, planning was done in Excel, but now, thanks to the APS Asprova system, it is fully automated. Another example is the grouping of production orders occurring within a defined time horizon (also definable) into a single order depending on the same index or characteristic. Savings are then in preparatory work, e.g. weighing, reduction of changeover times and numbers, use of resources and cleaning processes. On the other hand, the production cycle may become longer, but thanks to the APS system, the planner assesses what is optimal for the process at any given time.
Eq system improves production at TorfIn order to meet the needs and greatest challenges of production management at Torf Corporation, eq system experts recommended the implementation of the APS Asprova system and a new MES system, replacing the existing production accounting system. The APS Asprova system is a tool designed, among other things, to improve production planning and scheduling processes, which, importantly, develops in line with the growing expectations of the company. One of its primary tasks is to synchronise processes. At Torf Corporation, the APS Asprova system has accelerated the material balance process and the generation of production orders, giving them the possibility to make several different versions of the plan, according to many strategies. An indispensable component of the production control process is also the MES system, which provides information on production progress, resource utilisation and disruptions to the production process, if any. By implementing the APS and MES system at Torf Corporation, eq system thus introduces closed-loop standards in production process control.
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Dariusz Kacperczyk Consultant to the Management Board eq system
Artur Głodek Expert in the Business Analysis Department eq system
Have you got any comments or questions? Contact Dariusz Kacperczyk or Artur Głodek on LinkedIn.