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KSeal Glass is an efficient, well-established glass processor manufacturing and installing glass for both domestic and commercial Customers. KSeal know in order to thrive in hard times they must keep investing in the business. Investment in new software technology was an attractive option, as KSeal could see the immediate paybacks of using JoTiKa's OptimiserX+ software.
"Monitoring of cullet against stock purchases shows that waste has reduced by 15 tonnes per month – valued at £6500".
Since the introduction of Doc L, glass waste has been steadily rising. This has been mostly due to the big increase in the different types of glass now available – hard, soft coated, "active" water repellent and so on, have reduced the effectiveness of available optimisation methods.
At the same time, delivery lead times have been steadily eroded. All this before the recession had even started.
Now, with the interest in WER, low-iron glass is becoming more popular, and what was once the most popular glass – 4mm float – is now only a minority player. The recession has resulted in a major squeeze on delivery lead times, which forces the creation of ultra small batches, as there is no time to wait for more similar work to arrive, and the shop floor stays flexible by discouraging mixing of different types of work in a single batch.
A further complication is caused at times of low volume, by bringing forward work not yet required to fill production capacity. Different delivery days are batched separately, and over time the number of batches generated daily rises.
KSeal – a long time user of Gtrak software – approached JoTiKa to help address the problem. The large number of offcuts being generated, periodically being scrapped was a major trigger, and the problem had grown slowly over time.
The first stage was to establish actual waste levels. This is ideally measured by comparing the weight of cullet collected with the weight of stock glass purchased over a given time period. Once waste levels are established, they represent the benchmark to measure improvement. However, this process takes time to be accurate, as data has to be collected over months.
In this instance, it was clear that reducing the number of offcuts would have immediate benefit.
JoTiKa have developed a new approach to optimisation – OptimiserX+ aimed at addressing current market conditions, and had already proved the effectiveness at other sites.
"JoTiKa focused on spending a lot of time with both office and production staff, to find a practical solution that everyone was onboard with. This means the changes will not regress over time and savings will be maintained month on month".
Key features of the new approach are major reductions in the number of offcuts generated, and the ability to combine previously separate batches whilst maintaining the ability to re-sequence glass cutting with the same flexibility that separate batches would have provided. This feature addresses one of the main shop floor objections to combining batches.
JoTiKa were asked by KSeal to look at the wastage, and to recommend ways to reduce the level. Based on 30 years experience, JoTiKa recommended the use of slot racks at cutting. This required investment in a new set of racks, as all the existing slot racks were being used post-toughening.
Once these were delivered, JoTiKa spent a week onsite implementing changes to manufacture, with the requirement that waste be reduced at cutting, without impacting on the rest of the manufacturing process.
All the KSeal staff had been fully briefed on the problem prior to starting, and were ready for change, which made the task much easier.
There were problems at the cutting table with factory roof supports in inconvenient positions, but the cutting staff moved cullet bins and tables until they managed to get six slot racks all available at the same time. Often, use of slot racks at cutting is rejected because of space and blocked access, but KSeal showed that it can be done.
All old offcuts were scrapped before the new methods were introduced, so that the impact of the changes could be easily seen.
The first day was full of problems as the cutters had no experience of using slot racks, but once they got the hang of it, cutting went smoothly. In fact productivity improved – an unexpected bonus.
The first batches showed up working practices, such as the amount on nonoptimised glass being processed. Optimisation was used for the first time with laminated glass, and problems of synchronisation with toughened glass dealt with by Jotika.
Patterned glass was optimised for the first time, drawing sent to the hand cutter, reducing both waste and time, and staff trained on how the hand cut glass could be synchronised with the auto cut glass without double handling.
Batch mix and sequencing were revised, ensuring that glass was being delivered in the best sequence for downstream processing. Because batches are not limited to the maximum number of slot racks available around the cutting table, some tuning was required to ensure that the number of pieces of glass waiting for a slot rack was kept to a minimum on low value glass stock.
The rest of the factory remained unchanged, still getting racks with single products on – albeit slot racks instead of A-frames, and the sequencing improvements helped spacer bending down the line.
The combination of JoTiKa software tools and experienced support time by JoTiKa on site well past the time needed to train staff, and the willingness of staff to accept change was well proven.
Thanks to the foresight of Keith Nethercott, KSeal MD, who insisted that this length of time by JoTiKa onsite would be beneficial in making changes that would stick. Months on, the pile of offcuts remains very small and there is no periodic wholesale dumping of offcuts. JoTiKa have found that after implementation, the first evidence of success comes when the hand cutter complains about not being able to find any offcuts to use for remakes.
"On a personal note all the staff at K Seal Glass signed a thank you card for the engineer John Gold, as they appreciated his extra efforts and sound advice."
Jotika Software were recently chosen by Sternfenster to install a glass processing system to handle their internal glass processing needs as well as third party sales.
This is what Simon Parczuk IT Director had to say:
"At Sternfenster we believe that offering better products and services to our customers is one of the reasons we are so successful, especially in these hard times, which is why we recently invested £700,000 on a fully automated glass processing line enabling us to make energy rated products and offer a B rated window as standard.
At the same time we also started to look for a software package that would enable us to get the most out of that line and improve our service, as our existing glass optimiser was limited in functionality and restricted the way we produced our glass.
We spent months researching the available products on the market and eventually selected Jotika's Gtrak3 system with Optimiser X. This now provides us with an extremely flexible manufacturing and pricing system and allows us to manage our glass from start to finish, which ultimately means we can produce a better service for our customers".
Enabling Sternfenster to have more control over the way they prepare work for manufacture made a big difference. Jotika were able to introduce changes to the way glass is processed, which then led to immediate savings. Further savings can be made in the future and Jotika will work closely with Simon and his team over the coming months to achieve this.
Sternfenster are also making extensive use of the powerful pricing and costing tools available in Gtrak to help them manage third party sales. Different documentation layouts were designed and are printed to support both internal and third party orders.
John Gold explains how Jotika adapted their software to suit the needs of Sternfenster:
"Internal glass orders are imported into Gtrak automatically using EDI. The import file was non-standard, notably in terms of polygon shapes. A team effort was required to extract data from undocumented areas, and our thanks go to Sternfenster IT for their help.
Gtrak was adapted to provide a custom output to the existing MTL (Machine Technologies Limited) cutting tables, to support the overhead display as this is not a standard feature. We are the first glass software developer to support the overhead display supplied by MTL (Machine Technologies Limited) for there range of cutting tables.
A barcode tracking system was already in place at Sternfenster, which we had to emulate. But since our barcode database is so flexible, we were easily able to adapt it to suit the needs of the existing system. We then installed our Production Monitoring System to provide real time graphical views of glass production for management and scheduling staff. "
Sternfenster know the importance of improving manufacturing processes and providing good customer service through software; and we look forward to working with them on future projects"..
Future Architectural (FA) Glass is a commercial glass processor producing high performance insulated units and laminated glass products.
FA Glass has invested in a custom built factory based in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. The very best technology has been implemented from the UK and Europe including a Hegla Optimax Cutting Table with auto loading, Forvet CNC, Busseti double edge polishing, Lisec Sealing Line, Lisec Spacer Bender, and a fully automatic SeamMaX-X™ arising line.
To make the best use of the new factory and effectively manage enquiries and sales orders, FA Glass approached Jotika Software, among other glass software specialists. After many discussions and presentations FA Glass felt that Jotika's Gtrak3 and OptimiserX products were best suited to their business.
The standard Gtrak3 quotation entry was adapted to allow for cost estimations, meeting the needs of the unique pricing methods. Each job or project is priced individually taking into account many factors including material costs, labour costs, breakage factor, predicted waste and profit margin.
This was previously time consuming to prepare. Jotika designed an integrated estimate system with the ability to pre-optimise projects or jobs, to establish predicted waste – this would then become part of the costing model. The costing frame work within Gtrak was already more than capable of handling the complex product range. Full costing breakdown is now presented and allows manual overrides as negotiations are common. The overrides are then stored against each estimate for later review by management.
"Processing sales enquiries now takes less time, which means our sales team can respond to customer enquiries much faster. As a start up company in the region it is imperative that we are the first to respond and build a good reputation". Firoz Kachawala – Director.
The Gtrak3 pricing system had to be very flexible to cope with the complex range of products and processes in the FA Glass range. An unlimited number of pricing tables coupled with various pricing methods can be configured per product or process and for individual customers, where required. Taking into account cavity size, glass size, process quantity, glass thickness, hole diameter, spacer perimeter, glass perimeter and more.
"After spending time discussing the options available with Firoz, he was overwhelmed by the flexibility of Gtrak3 pricing and how well it fitted with his own pricing model. We spent time configuring the prices together to meet his needs exactly and this made all the difference."Brian Gold – Director.
The ambitious architecture in the UAE meant that a fully featured shape designer was a must. The Gtrak3 shape designer has a wide range of library shapes along with the ability to design bespoke shapes from sides and angles. Options are also available to easily apply stepped edges for insulated glass products, holes, polished edge tolerances, arcs and radius corners.
Single and multi shape DXF files can be imported from Customers and edited directly in the shape designer. DXF files can also be exported for processing on the Forvet CNC machine. Larger holes are sent for cutting directly on the Hegla table.
Gtrak offers completely integrated pre-optimisation as part of the quotation process. This allows the operator to pre-calculate waste with many different stock sheet combinations, so that likely waste in actual production can be assessed in advance,and can be built into the quotation costings.
In actual production it is not uncommon for three or more different stock sizes to be optimised for 6mm Clear, just because these are the only sheets available – each with limited quantities. In addition, due to its unique design, Gtrak offers "no-offcut" optimisation, whereby an entirely changed optimisation adds in work not yet required to ensure that as few offcuts as possible are generated. This is especially effective for backing glass.
Gtrak allows part optimisation down to Order Line/leaf level, so it is possible to part optimise with what stock sheets are available, and return later and re-optimise when new stock arrives. The highly variable product mix common to commercial glass processing means that conventional approaches to glass sequencing do not work well.
Slot/harp racks do not work well, because of glass sizes and weight and because of the risk of damage to soft coated glass. Other ways to track the glass have to be found.
Gtrak allows the glass to be identified at cutting, and stacked randomly. Sequencing takes place only when required e.g pre-sealing for IG manufacture, and even then, only non-sequenced pairing is necessary. Gtrak uses the bar code ID carried with each leaf to load machinery such as spacer benders, saws in the sequence that paired glass is stacked, rather than waste time and energy forcing the glass into a predefined sequence.
Barcodes are also used to preload other machines such as double edgers , CNC drilling notching machines, allowing the glass to remain in the sequence it was stacked in, rather than being re-sorted. The unreliable supply of stock glass means that frequently cut glass has to be stacked in part processed or finish state, and accurate tracking is essential. A range of tracking points will be supplied and installed by Jotika, to monitor glass in real time through the factory.