Pharmaceutical products are sensitive goods having to conform to the highest quality standards. During production, quality and required standards are under constant control, however the supplier products must also meet these requirements. pK Chemicals A/S is global leader for Dextran, Dextran derivate, and Fine Chemicals producing for the pharmaceutical, medical, and cosmetic industry. To be accepted as supplier they have to produce to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), a set of rules for quality assurance in this industry.
pK Chemicals A/S applies two steps for controlling the adherence to standards. A laboratory testing the quality (QC = Quality Control) releases further processing. In addition, a final inspection (QA = Quality Assurance) at the end of the production controls, that every product that leaves the company correspond to the defined quality standard. Naturally, these controls will increase the interdepartmental planning and coordination effort needed between production, laboratory, final inspection and sales. The staff members in the different departments have to know which product is to be produced for which customer, when it will be handed over to quality control and when final inspection releases the delivery. Only then can sales inform the customer about delivery.
For a long time, pK Chemicals A/S used Excel for their planning. In addition, the employees verbally kept each other informed about orders pending and those waiting to be processed. To Henrik Størling, CFO at pK Chemicals A/S, it was crystal clear that based on this kind of planning reliable delivery promises couldn’t be made:
“We could not inform our customers about the exact delivery dates, and we used way too much time internally to inform each other. Too often we missed to inform each other, which often resulted in problems with keeping the delivery date.”
When the company established Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Henrik Størling wanted production data to become more transparent for gaining a better coordination process. He was looking for a way of visualizing the data of the pending orders and their processing steps in a large overview. He wanted every department to see when each individual product will be handed over to them for processing. Since Microsoft Dynamics NAV doesn’t offer data visualization, Henrik came across NETRONIC‘s Gantt chart add-ins. The Visual Production Scheduler easily made the wish for overview come true.
The planning table not only brought about the desired transparency for the departments. Henrik realized that
“the production was much more complex than believed. When making routings for all products we discovered, that this knowledge was on a few employees, which is a risk factor for our company."
Only if each staff member keeps updating the current data in NAV reliably, the desired transparency between the departments can really be gained and the VPS will reflect the current production status. This re-thinking process was way more difficult than Henrik had expected:
“It has been quite a big job to make everybody make sure that the production plan is updated in NAV. It has taken almost half a year to training employees internally and to let them understand, that they MUST update every day.”
But the effort has been worthwhile. Now coordination between the departments runs smoothly and Henrik stated happily:
“Our KPI for deliver on time to customers has increased dramatically.”
pk Chemicals A/S does not only use the VPS for interaction between the departments Production, QC, QA and Sale, but also for production planning. Two criteria make the planning challenging: the production line comprises several machines, all depending on each other. Before a new production can start, all machines have to be cleaned.
“We use routings in NAV to handle this, but the VPS for the visual overview”, says Henrik.
Here the main function of the VPS is to avoid double booking the machines.