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Advanced supply chain planning in the ceramic industry



In most traditional ceramic production processes, finished product planning has adopted a make-to-stock approach that is determined more by large minimum batch sizes than by well-designed storage policies. To ensure sufficiently large quantities and reduce the impact of setup costs on individual pieces, ceramic production has always applied order batching policies to the semi-finished fired products leaving the kilns. This is despite the fact that a larger batch size generates unjustifiably high and expensive stock levels and inventory coverage.


Evolution of software systems for improved performance

The introduction of advanced planning process and production programming software has helped resolve this situation and improve performance (i.e. providing a higher level of service while simultaneously reducing stock and overall size change times). One such specialist integrated supply chain management software is COMPASS 10 developed by Plannet, a software package for integrated planning, finite capacity scheduling and production (MES) and procurement control that has been adopted by numerous ceramic sector clients.

The software package includes functions specially developed for ceramic tile producers that complement traditional tools (MPS, APS, multiple-constraint finite-capacity scheduling, MES with direct plant integration based on Industry 4.0 principles, etc.). One of the most significant of these functions is planning by groups of items, which involves analysing the expected demand for each finished product to automatically determine the mix and quantity of finished product that needs to be manufactured. This makes it possible to satisfy market demand while minimising inventory coverage for each individual article and guaranteeing minimum cost-effective quantities in the upstream press/kiln process.






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