Kaiser Aluminum's Trentwood facility near Spokane, Washington, is the only major aluminum rolling mill in the western U.S. that produces flat, plate, and sheet products for the aerospace, trans portation, and industrial (ATI) markets. Kaiser's customers in these markets demand low costs, superior customer service, and reliable delivery performance. Kaiser is now using i2Technologies' Factory Planner and UEC IT's Toolkits for Metals to reduce cycle time and inventory to meet the growing demands. Without these tools and without UEC IT's understanding of synchronous manufacturing princi-pals and change management, Kaiser would not have been able to obtain their current results in a short period of time.
The project began in July of 1999 when a consulting company, with i2, generated a basic business model for Kaiser. Using this model, UEC IT was brought in to optimize it's effectiveness.
Kaiser knew that UEC IT's expertise in synchronous manufacturing for metals would help build the solid foundation necessary to meet their growing customer demands through improved plant performance.
Kaiser's customers continued to demand shorter and more reliable lead times, which forced Kaiser to build-up inventories to ensure on-time delivery dates were met. Increased inventories meant increased cycle times, increased costs, and lost or damaged material.
Kaiser relied heavily on large amounts of work-in-process inventory and had limited visibility into how to efficiently operate their plant. This led to luctuation in the factory plans and caused Kaiser toquestion whether resources were fully optimized.
Kaiser's key challenge was to implement synchronous manufacturing principals and a planning system that would decrease inventory and lead times, allowing Kaiser to improve customer satisfaction.
Strategies for Success
Kaiser knew they needed to implement improved planning and scheduling tools if they wanted to gain control of their production operations. They also knew they needed competent outside help to do this. By selecting i2's Factory Planner and UEC IT's implementation expertise, they had the help they needed.
The Tools for Success
UEC IT implemented their Factory Planner Toolkit for Metals. The toolkit complements the i2 TradeMatrix Factory Planner Solution to reflect the complicated processes and functionality associated with the aluminum and other metals industries such as steel. The enhancements the Toolkit brought to i2's module include a user interface with a number of powerful features, such as customized facility balancing routines and the ability to quickly generate a variety of "what-if" scenarios for plan analysis and comparison.
"Combining the supply chain expertise of i2 with UEC IT's knowledge of the industry and synchronous manufacturing principals, Kaiser obtained the industry's most comprehensive planning tool," said Dick Luther, UEC IT's Manager of i2.
The Kaiser team knew that i2's Factory Planner and UEC IT's Factory Planner Toolkit would meet their objectives. However, the team was wary of gaining buy-in from Trentwood operating departments. Without their participation and willingness to use the system, the project would
not be successful.
"The UEC IT team, with their knowledge and experience in metals production, clearly understood the problems facing our operations managers. The team's ability to connect on this knowledge level won UEC IT instant buy-in with our people," said Randy Bayuk, Production Planner for Kaiser.
"Because of UEC IT, in conjunction with i2's Factory Planner, we have visibility of our plant operations as we've never had before. The results we have achieved in inventory and cycle time reduction in the first four months are more than we expected and there is even more coming," said Mike Stemm, Project Manager for Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood Facility.