Demand-based Automated Inventory Replenishment System

Dec. 18, 2005
Also, the real effects of simulation software

Michigan CAT, a manufacturer of agricultural, truck, and construction equipment in Novi, MI, recently had a new automated inventory-replenishment system installed by MaXaL Tool Co., a specialized developer and supplier of metalworking tooling packages.

MaXaL Tool developed its Tracktor system to hold hand-grab commodities (e.g., fasteners, fuses, clips, electrical terminals, etc.) in a manufacturing operation like for Michigan CAT. The master base unit consists of 40 bins and contains a logic controller that drives a sturdy electronic inventory control system software running on a Sequel server.

When part levels hit a pre-determined low point, an automated electronic order is sent to a Web-based inventory portal, signaling the replenishment order immediately. This means demand is driven from the plant floor based on consumption, and Michigan CAT will always have the correct amount of inventory available.

Tracktor’s intuitive inventory replenishment solution is linked into a novel web-based supply-chain management solutions for hand-grab commodities. This supplier web portal hosts a large selection of part commodities from multiple vendors, so customers are set for continuous improvement via ongoing price reductions on parts. With the MaXaL Tool Procurement Network — a series of leveraged purchasing agreement — Tracktor users have the advantages of continuous part-cost savings and a wide-ranging supplier network.

The Tracktor system can be extended with additional 40-bin modules called Trailors, each of which is connected to the Tracktor’s main hub and uses the central logic processor located with the control board.

“The Tracktor system was installed in no time, and is configured to handle all of our hand-binned parts,” observes Michigan CAT parts manager, Jim Fensom. “We’ve already seen a difference in how automated the reordering process can be: Our costs are already going down, and I’m certain we will never run out of needed parts during production.”

Hardware for the Tracktor system is supplied AutoCrib Inc., producers of point-of-use dispensing systems and software for tooling, safety, and MRO inventory management.

In Italy, Simulation Software has Real Effects

ESI Group supplies metalcasting simulation software, and reports it has had particular success with a group of Italian foundries that have adopted its ProCast packages over the past 18 months. Fifteen operations have adopted ProCast in Italy since ESI aligned with Ecotre sas di Valente dr. Tiziano & C. to demonstrate the process at the Metef exhibition in 2004. (The next staging of Metef is set for May 17-20, 2006, in Brescia, Italy.)

ESI says ProCast allows these metalcasters to evaluate mold design effects quickly, to inform effective decisions in the manufacturing process. It’s based on finite-element technology, and can simulate processes that range from high- and low-pressure diecasting, gravity and sand casting, and lost foam and investment casting processes. The developers indicated the benefits for the 15 Italian foundries include lower manufacturing costs, shorter mold-production lead times, and better quality castings.

The Italian metalcasting industry is the fourth-largest in the world, with a good number of small to mid-size foundries. Foundries like ProCast are Fonderia Casati, Industrie Metallurgiche Spoleto, Inossman, and Modelleria ed Administeria Franciacorta, are now using ProCast to optimize runner systems and eliminate areas where shrinkage may occur.

Investment casters like Europea Microfusioni Aerospaziali and Microcast are using the software to identify shell layer generation, radiation, and shadowing. And, diecasters Alupress, Metalpres, FOMT, Bieffe, Flow Service, Costamp, SCS, and TOORA are using ProCast to optimize piston velocities, gating designs, and overflow positioning, and to reduce mold-development lead time.

“To accomplish this sales performance in Italy, we joined forces with Ecotre to align customer requirements with product quality. This achievement more than doubles our customer installed base and highlights the renewed optimism of the Italian foundry market as well as the competitiveness of our ProCast solution,’ says Marco Aloe, head of ESI’s business development for Italy.