Toray Case Study

“How I approach my job is totally different… in a good way.” Mr. Joe Whaley, Planner /Scheduler for Toray Plastics America commented on the recent Greycon project.

”The Greycon solution provides a more drilled in, deeper level of focus on customer’s needs… I can also now consider the entire schedule instead of looking at each part... I can see the whole plant easier. Base inventory is better utilized.”

As a world leader in the production of plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and high performance films, Toray Plastics America was in need of a system to support their manufacturing operations in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The organization needed a solution to replace their many non-standardized systems with a solution that was integrated with their ERP (from SAP) and Manufacturing Execution System (Plant Apps from GE) for their complex scheduling issues in producing, slitting, metalizing and converting high performance films.

Prior to the Greycon solution, the scheduler was the solitary link for the production orders and the customer orders, a less-than-ideal situation. He had no tool to help him optimize the execution sequence of the multiple production steps and processes. Capacity itself was managed with the help of spreadsheets and there was significant potential for error as data had to be copied multiple times in multiple places.

The Greycon solution allows Toray to optimize both the geometry (using Greycon’s X-Trim, that addresses the primary film line and the metallization step) and the schedule (using Greycon’s S-Plan that schedules all production stages).

The integrated trimming of metallizers simultaneously with the film lines and base film inventory has brought an improvement in yield. The integrated trim process further allows the scheduler to plan much tighter to the targeted quantities, reducing overrun and minimizing customer shipment errors.

Visibility of their operations schedule is now available on-line and is updated in real time. This was an essential element of the reduction in paperwork and improved internal and external communications to the production staff, management, and the sales organization.

To serve their customers better, Toray began to focus more on its maketo-order business, where all production is tied to customer orders. With better control, visibility, and communication using S-Plan, Toray has accomplished this. Mr. Whaley adds that the “general case” goes much faster now, and represents about 95% of the activity, while the special cases (5%) take roughly the same time as before. Overall, the Greycon tools have provided tremendous time savings.

The new system also makes it much easier to perform what-if simulations. The manager will ask, “What would happen if…?”, and the scheduler can provide a detailed and accurate answer in minutes. In the past, it would have been a much longer process with much less reliability. Deciding whether to take unavoidable trim waste (off-cut) at the film line or at the metallizer was a difficult, time-consuming, and painful process. Now it can be easily analyzed.

Mr. Whaley noted that over the past several months that the production staff has been asked to perform some difficult schedule changes to be able to meet dynamic customer demand.

A significant side benefit has been that the entire plant is also more focused on meeting the customer’s needs. The organization is now able to easily tie together the customer information to the production plan for the staff on the shop floor. This has allowed the organization to become more focused on meeting the needs of a specific customer.