Southern Container, Devens Nearly Doubles Volume--and Nobody Noticed!“The combination of having the Kiwiplan system in our plant, a comprehensive employee training effort, and the accelerated learning curve involved in having a Greenfield site worked together to bring us an increased throughput of 42%,” comments Paul Austin, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Southern Container Devens (Massachusetts). “That’s exactly what we accomplished in 2001 without any spikes or drops in our other goals. Even with the significant increase in throughput, we maintained on-time deliveries at 96%.”
“Kiwiplan takes the emotion out of running the plant,” explains Austin. “Gone are the long hours and frantic pushes to meet delivery dates and the tough decisions about which orders to book and when. No more haphazard shuffling of work on machines to accommodate order changes. If we’re using the system properly and letting it do its job, we can barely tell the difference between producing 50 million or 100 million. Kiwiplan puts us in the ‘facts and data’ mode, which is exactly where we should be.”
The Total SolutionAs a greenfield startup, Southern Container Devens chose to install Kiwiplan’s full suite of automated plant and corrugator scheduling products as well as sales order management, shop floor data collection, direct real-time connections to the corrugator and conveyor system, together with integrated roll stock and finished goods inventory management and control systems.
Steven Hill, Executive Vice President of Southern Container, comments, “We selected Kiwiplan for one simple, but important reason—they were the only company in the market at that time that had a fully developed functional product with an established customer base that was using the product. Another factor in our decision was Kiwiplan’s commitment to partner with us in the development of their sales order management system (ESP).”
“Going with Kiwiplan was a smart move and is one of the main reasons I came on board in May of 2001,” comments Austin. “In a short time we’ve achieved a significant ROI through increased throughput and on-time delivery achievements; reduced waste; better tracking of machine downtimes; accurate reporting and control of finished goods and roll stock; and increased efficiency in processing, allocating, and sequencing of orders.”
Customer service reps have full access to real-time machine capacity and production information, in graphical views. This enables them to provide customers with accurate delivery dates and times. Once accepted, the order is immediately scheduled and details are transmitted to the production environment. At any time reps can check order status—in real time. When the order is ready to ship, Kiwiplan’s RF inventory management system provides accurate data to the fully integrated sales order management system (ESP). ESP then automatically generates a bill of lading, thus improving billing accuracy and timeliness.
Workforce Scheduling a Breeze
The Kiwiplan system provides them with an accurate, graphical view of current and anticipated machine usage and capacity in the plant. Austin explains, “As a startup greenfield site, we built for the future, so capacity is not a problem. In fact, we have the potential to be the largest corrugating plant on the East Coast.
“The amount of information Kiwiplan provides and the speed at which we can get it tells us exactly where we’re heavy and where we’re light, and we can seek business accordingly. Knowing our machine loadings at any given moment gives us better control of our calendars. Our crews are cross trained on the different machines which enables us to shift them to where they are needed the most. The system helps us minimize costs and manage our time according to what’s happening with our business.”
Paperless Operation Improves Accuracy
The ability to transmit information seamlessly, graphically, and electronically throughout the entire operation increases speed, reduces errors, and improves communication, according to Austin. “The best computer we have in the plant is the human mind, and if we use computers to do the clerical, routine tasks, we can focus on what we do and how we can do it better, rather than wasting time pushing papers around or looking for items that have been misplaced.”
Operators and others throughout the plant have electronic access to art and CAD drawings, thus making their plant floor paperless and saving a tremendous amount of clerical time. They always have a clean copy that shows the real colors and don’t have to worry about them being misplaced or destroyed. Any updates or design changes are available instantaneously. No one has to retrieve all the copies and replace them. They have exactly what they need when they need it to run the job correctly.
Powerful Selling Point
Austin notes, “We use the Kiwiplan system as a selling tool. When customers enquire about order status, we can tell them exactly where it is. This instills confidence in us as a company. When I take customers and prospects on plant tours and show them the system, they are impressed by the sophisticated, timely sales and operational data that are easily accessible in real time to customer service reps, management, operators, and others throughout the plant. The system actually helps me sell products.”
Helps Them Compete
“Being fully automated gives us a definite advantage in the market place,” comments Austin. “We’re more efficient and can keep costs down. More importantly, Kiwiplan provides reliable information that enables us to confidently promise a delivery date and time and to fulfill that promise. Our commitment to invest in technology to improve customer service and productivity definitely gives us the edge.”
Reliability, Flexibility Are Hallmarks
According to Austin, Kiwiplan is an amazingly stable environment. When an order is entered, it stays in and gets processed through the plant. Operating on Linux, the system can run programs and schedule the plant with amazing speed. Maneuvering through the system is not rigid like other products on the market. He comments, “People throughout the plant appreciate the system’s accuracy, flexibility, comprehensive information, and ease of use. These are the features they are looking for in an automated system.”
Need Vision, Support for Success
“Computerization means change and requires a turnaround mindset,” concludes Austin. “Top management support, people with the skill set to make it work, and a champion who understands the system and its capabilities and potential are all keys to having a successful, fully automated operation. It’s not easy, but the payoffs are well worth the hard work. Quite simply, it drives positive results directly to the bottom line.”