Shortening lead times with cutting-edge plastic manufacturing tech

April 27, 2021

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We’re over 100 years old now, and you don’t get to that age without having a knack for innovating and adapting to the times! This has been the driving ethos that’s influenced the expertise, passion and skill of our staff, and it’s also played its part in shaping the machines and technology that we utilise on factory floor too. If you’ve ever seen it for yourself – or even just taken a quick look around our website – you might have seen the bespoke production planning system we’ve got in place.

This week, we thought we’d take a moment to explain more about it, and how we’ve been using it to improve the efficiency of our roto-moulding process, ultimately realising your vision for your plastic product down to the very last detail.

How did the project come about?

Basically, the idea was to completely move away from manual production planning on a good old fashioned whiteboard, and to come up with a streamlined method of planning orders across our machines – all the while giving us accurate and useful data relating to each and every product and machine cycle.

Some roto moulders may have, say, 30 to 50 customers, but we have several hundred due to the fact that we sell a huge range of our own products through trade outlets, in addition to being contract moulders for a wide array of customers. So, the potential benefits of this new system really were very significant.

Reducing waste, maximising efficiency

Our production planning system was initially built around one core idea, which was to provide our machine operators with a tablet at each machine. Each individual tablet contains full details of the scheduled operations for the machine in question, so our operators know what that machine will be busy with for weeks ahead at a time, and can plan accordingly with polymer and parts from stock.

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The available data includes essential information about product specifications, run rates, cycle times and scrap figures, which we constantly use to verify product quality, costings and much more besides. What’s more, if for any reason a product is scrapped, it means we know exactly why it’s been scrapped, and we can simply plan a replacement in its place whilst reviewing the reason for the scrap. Essentially, we’re able to troubleshoot as and when problems occur, not after the event, and this has lead to us running at extremely low scrap rates.

Every product also has its own bill of material, and we have the ability to attach numerous PDFs for each product, including documentation of its various technical details – all at the touch of a screen.

Using Apollo to shorten lead times for our customers

In the last few years we’ve also implemented a fantastic new software system throughout the company, which is directly linked to our production planning system.

The new “Apollo” system replaced an ageing Opera system, the limits of which were becoming increasingly apparent to us. In contrast, Apollo now provides us with access to all areas of the business immediately, whether it’s from the office or at home. (As you can imagine, that’s something which has been especially useful over the last 12 months!)

The new system has given us huge time saving benefits throughout the company and enables us to completely track products as they progress through the factory and ultimately out of the door to the customer.

It also shows the available stock of all our products so we are able to easily despatch from stock. This is often on a next day service either on an overnight or 2-3 day service which means that customers can receive their products in days in many cases. More and more customers have told us how helpful it’s been for us to have stock in place for quick despatch, so Apollo is an ideal tool to facilitate that, and it has gone down really well across the board.

So if you’re one of the many people looking to make your vision for your plastic project a reality, you’re in exactly the right place. As a plastic manufacturer with over a century of history behind us, we’ve got decades of experience in bringing customers’ plastic products to life. If you want to get a better idea of what we can do for you, feel free to take a quick look through our previous plastic manufacturing case studies, or if you’re ready to talk, feel free to give us a call on 0161 765 2010!