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Allocation System

What Problems Does
The Allocation System Solve?

Classic Packaging utilizes over one hundred different films and materials. For example, films that vary in width, gauge, material, and grade. Each job requires a set quantity of specific materials. A system is necessary to keep track of the amount of each material that is required for scheduled jobs so that work staff can determine when and how much of each material to purchase. The complexity is increased by the fact that jobs need to be assigned material that has been ordered and is expected to arrive before the job is scheduled to run, in addition to material that is already on the floor.

Product Summary

We created an Allocation System that allows allocations of required job materials from open purchase orders or material currently in stock. Further, the system allows users to “borrow” allocated materials from one job and allocate them to another. The job that now lacks its required materials is flagged in the Scheduling System.

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Project Goals

To provide data for upcoming jobs to determine what materials to purchase, how much, and when. The system also needed to account for materials created during a production step to be available for allocation in subsequent steps. Furthermore, users had to be able to specify the amount to be allocated in either weight (in pounds) or footage. The system had to do all of this with a high level of automation, yet allow for detailed manual manipulation by users as needed.

To allow allocations from three possible sources:

Material in Stock
Open Purchase Orders
Other jobs to which the material is already allocated

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What Prompted the Start of the Allocation System?

As Classic Packaging benefited a great deal from the Scheduler that we built for them, they were eager to collaborate on additional systems that address other major issues, such as the need to be able to determine whether their existing and incoming materials were sufficient to handle their scheduled work. Once it was clear that the Scheduler would greatly improve efficiency, building the Allocation system was the next step in increasing profitability for the company.

System Build

In manufacturing, scheduling can be complicated, yet production can’t be compromised by inefficiencies in scheduling or inability to handle an unexpected change of plans. Each piece of equipment performs a specific task. Each packaging job involves multiple steps, each of which varies in duration. These steps may include one or more printing and lamination steps, as well as slitting, bagging or pouching, holding, and shipping. These steps must be scheduled on multiple machines, in a specific order.

Many times, work in progress needs time to cure and cannot be moved onto the next step right away. Often, steps must be split and completed in parts to accommodate other job deadlines and machine availability. Schedules must also accommodate campaign runs, in which similar production steps from differing sales orders are combined and run together on the same machine. On top of that, if a piece of equipment goes down without notice, the schedule for multiple production items and machines needs to be quickly modified in a way that ensures the production of all items gets accomplished on time without compromising quality.

For these reasons, an automated scheduling system for a manufacturing business is imperative.

System Feature

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  • Display of Materials Allocated to a Job:
    The Allocation System displays all allocated rolls and purchase orders for a given sales order number and job step, as well as the total weight and footage allocated versus the total weight and footage required for the step (see top section).
  • Film type, grade, gauge, width, and allocated weight and footage is provided for all allocated rolls and purchase orders. For allocated rolls, location and pallet number are also displayed.
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      • Search by Attribute: 
        In the bottom two sections, the user can search for a variety of film attributes to locate rolls and purchase orders that are a match for a given job step. They can then select a roll or purchase order and allocate a portion of it to the job step. The amount to be allocated can be specified in pounds or footage:
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      • Deallocation of Materials:
        The user can also deallocate all or part of rolls and purchase orders that were previously allocated:
  • Automatic Allocation Upon Arrival of Materials: When a purchase order arrives, which has already been assigned as a material for a job, the necessary whole or partial rolls received in that purchase order are automatically allocated to the job.
  • Incoming Materials Allocated in Chronological Order: If multiple jobs have been assigned a material which has not yet arrived, upon delivery, the jobs are granted materials in the order in which the jobs are scheduled.
  • Automatic Allocation of Dependant Materials: Often times production steps are dependant on one another such that the product of one step becomes the material needed for a subsequent step. In these cases, the dependant material is automatically allocated to the necessary step in which it is needed later in the job.

Continue reading the Classic Packaging case study with the Production System page »