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“It used to take us more than a day and a half to do a cycle count on one row in the warehouse, and now we do it in three hours.”
— Bud Durland, IT Manager, Mold-Rite Plastics
When manual processes became a bottleneck to growth, Mold-Rite automated its warehouse and production facility
Mold-Rite Plastics produces a wide variety of caps and closures for the personal-care and pharmaceutical markets. The company has a standard catalog of products, but its multi-national customers often request specialty items that require design and engineering customization, and, more importantly, a quick turnaround.
But the need for just-in-time delivery became hampered by manual processes. In 2003, the company was growing and had to double the size of its 200,000-square-foot facility, half of which was used for warehousing and shipping. During that time, standard inventory procedures, such as updating lot numbers, were recorded with pencil and paper. The Mold-Rite team quickly realized that they needed to automate operations to give them the speed and agility customers required.
The solution included adding a wireless 802.11b network, wireless bar-code scanners, and a wireless-enabled warehouse management system that would connect to its ERP software. The project, dubbed the Production Management Data Collection System, leverages technology to gather data from the earliest stages of the production process to when the product is shipped.
A combination of commercial- and Mold-Rite Plastics-developed software is used to collect data for current job runs, raw material consumption, labor, machine downtime, job setup time, order staging, and shipping. All processes have Sybase SQL Anywhere as the common back-end database. On the front end, touch-screen computers are used at each production line to update inventory and ERP processes. And bar-code labels and Intermec handheld mobile terminals are used to manage inventory, all in real time.
A Mold-Rite-developed dashboard shows supervisors and managers the current state of all production lines. The information from the dashboard is used by department heads and senior-level management to assess workflow, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and inventory levels.
“With the wireless network and Intermec terminals, we saw radical productivity gains and increased reliability and speed,” said Bud Durland, Mold-Rite’s IT manager. “For example, it used to take us more than a day and a half to do a cycle count on one row in the warehouse, and now we do it in three hours.”
In addition, inventory accuracy rates in the warehouse facility are consistently near 100%. As a result of this project, Mold-Rite has been able to accommodate a substantial increase in sales volume with only a small increase in labor, and is now poised to increase production volumes.