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Tube Manufacturer has Better Scheduling in the Pipe
février 2001

VallourecVallourec, a French company with a number of manufacturing sites, make low carbon Ni-Cr-Mo steel tube mainly for the automotive industry, more than two thirds of which is exported all over the world.  Processing takes place at three sites, Saint Florentine, Vitry-le-Francois and Laigneville with production totalling around 75-85 tons of steel every day, equivalent to 15 kilometres of tube.

“Our production plan was very much a manual process based on fixing orders for a period of five weeks ahead and calculating the expected capacity available from our tube lines at each of the plants” says Arnuad Haquin who is responsible for logistics.   “It took management a lot of time to deal with problems, and updating the schedule, and we needed a tool to help give us better visibility so we could improve the delivery service to our customers”.

Ouromoff Diffusion (OD) of Lyon (now Segula) recommended Preactor 300 FCS as the solution.  Bruno Dindelli was Managing Director.  “Vallourec liked the visual representation that Preactor offered, its flexibility in terms of integration with the other software they had which were different at each plant, and the possibility to customise the solution for their needs at an extremely competitive price”.

The areas to be scheduled included the tube drawing lines, heat treatment ovens and finishing operations.  Of particular interest was the sequencing of the first stage that required orders to be sorted by attribute such as thickness, diameter and promised delivery date to keep changeover times to a minimum.  Typically 600 orders each with a number of process steps would need to be scheduled for each 5week-production period.  OD developed the pre-process algorithms to do this.

Gabriel Halleux, the project manager at Laigneville, comments.  “Every morning we hold a meeting to update progress of the current orders and re-prioritise them based on any new information such as materials not being available, problems experienced in production, or customer changes.  Preactor allows us to see the impact and we can directly edit the information on screen to make informed decisions and ensure our customers have their orders delivered on time”.

The project evaluation started in January 1999 and completed by Ouroumoff Diffusion in June of that year with the applications going live in September 1999 at two of the sites.  Vallourec installed the third themselves.  Vallourec also added their own bar code system to capture the status of each order in real-time and to feed that to Preactor to keep it up to date.

Arnaud Haquin again.  “The investment was a very modest one yet not only have we vastly improved our delivery performance but also cut out stocks of raw material and finished product by half.  Our payback period more than met our expectations”.

Over the following years the company upgraded to Preactor 400 APS and installed it in plants in multiple sites.