Inland Label makes a mark with efficiency using SIMATIC IT Preactor APS

Inland Label Makes a Mark with Efficiency Using SIMATIC IT Preactor APS2Founded in 1903, Inland Printing specialized in brochures, catalogues and other commercial print items. In 1944, John Glendenning, a print broker from Detroit, Michigan invested in Inland Printing with two other partners and moved his family to La Crosse, Wisconsin. In 1960 John’s son Jack, the first in the family to graduate college, joined Inland.

Under Jack’s direction, the company continued to steadily grow and in 1968 they invested in their first multicolor offset press. Inland continued to offer commercial print while their label business expanded throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but by the late 1990’s investment was focused solely on label printing. In 2004 a 20,000 square foot addition was made to the headquarters building and a state of the art gravure label press was installed. With a focus on label printing, the company changed their name to Inland Label. Today Inland is on a growth trajectory with a global reach into Latin America, the UK, and China.

As with any successful company with strong growth, process improvement is essential, and Inland’s scheduling methods needed to take advantage of automated technology to address several problems with production planning. Scheduling was taking place in multiple systems and done completely by hand.  Dependent operations did not link between the grouped operations and constraints and down times had to be factored in manually as part of the schedule.

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Inland Label uses Syspro ERP. A previous integration of Syspro with a basic Preactor scheduler and employee experience made the upgrade to SIMATIC IT Preactor Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) the logical next step for Inland Label. “We knew that we had to make dramatic improvements to schedule all of our critical plant resources on one scheduling platform,” recalls Garet Wetzel, vice president of Supply Chain.

Inland has unique business requirements and so the design and development proceeded carefully. The initial model and scheduling rule was developed by Quinn & Associates, and with training provided by the SIMATIC IT Preactor reseller, Inland staff became self-sufficient in modifying the basic SIT Preactor scheduling model. “Having the capability to rapidly develop and modify custom business logic on top of the SIT Preactor framework to help us efficiently schedule production, taking into account all of our unique business processes and objectives,” says Willie Spindler, Systems Analyst and Developer. SIMATIC IT Preactor is deployed in two facilities and integrated with several systems within Inland: ERP, various in-house applications, shop floor production instrumentation systems, and reporting and analytical tools.

The benefits that SIMATIC IT Preactor has for Inland Labels are extensive:

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-Visibility of operations to maintain sequencing while ensuring maintaining due dates.
– Ability to help manage constraints and down time.
– Automation of optimization of the schedule by creating a rule to group similar jobs together.
– Significant expansion of our production without having to add planning staff.
– All scheduling consolidated into a single data-driven system.

Today users import new jobs and operations from custom-built software into SIMATIC IT Preactor several times a day, using SIT Preactor as a tool to optimize the scheduling of these operations without violating constraints or due dates.  They use the tool the update the ERP system with the scheduled dates and times and to publish the schedule to the operations team.  Using SIMATIC IT Preactor allows planners to group production runs with similar requirements together to gain production efficiencies.

Mr. Wetzel concludes: “SIMATIC IT Preactor APS delivered the results that we were looking for. One platform that gave us the visibility needed to put the optimal schedule on the shop floor that sequences jobs correctly and minimizes the changes to any of our production lines and cuts changeover times dramatically.”

Future plans for SIT Preactor include using scheduling pre-production activities or adding additional viewer licenses to improve schedule visibility throughout the organization.

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