Most people are familiar with the phrase, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It may seem like just a well-worn cliché, but for several departments at Koozie Group’s Red Wing, Minnesota, facility who worked together to achieve their goal, that saying could not be truer.

Recently, the Scheduling, Manufacturing, and Warehouse teams in Red Wing put their heads together to introduce a new and more efficient automated scheduling process for Carousels, the department that screen prints on bags. To do this, they added new functionality to the facility’s current scheduling tool that allows inventory to be automatically ordered through the Carousel machine schedules themselves.

The purpose of this new process is to drive schedule compliance and ensure that inventory is being made available to the machine operators at the correct time – all without needing an employee to manually indicate when the stock is needed.

Michael Duren, Red Wing Production Scheduler, said of the new process, “This is a vast improvement over the last-minute ordering that the Warehouse is accustomed to and has helped reduce the length of time areas are waiting for parts to come from the Warehouse. Since Carousels is one of the areas with the highest volume in the plant, being able to pre-plan the amount of labor needed and being able to pick parts ahead of schedule when there is momentary downtime has been a welcomed change to the processes.”

It all starts with Scheduling. As the schedulers plan the machine workload for Carousels, they assign each order a machine and shift. Each shift is then divided into two order batches, each representing a four-to-five-hour block of printing time.

These machines are then added onto a Carousel ordering tab within the scheduling tool. Once enough machines are scheduled, this tool then sends information to the Warehouse.

Using a variety of macros and formulas, the scheduling tools pulls the data on all the new jobs that have now been scheduled and produces an automated list for the Warehouse that lets them know what parts need to be chosen for Carousel production two days ahead of when they will be printed.

The tool further divides the list into machine number, shift, and batch to easily determine when each group of inventory picks needs to be ready for production. As a result, the Warehouse can begin selecting products and storing the pallets to be delivered to the floor once they are needed.

While the Warehouse is working on picking product, the Scheduling team is busy finding and batching Carousel orders by date, machine, shift, and batch. From there, the orders are moved into the screen room and screens are produced for these orders (typically a day ahead of time).

The result is that at 5 a.m. each day, the parts are delivered to the floor and the screens are ready according to the planning of the Scheduling team – all without any manual input from the operators in the Carousel Department. Thus, the team can focus more on printing orders and less on the day-to-day logistics of ordering and moving inventory.

This new automated process is already paying off in several ways. For example, rather than spending one or two hours per day ordering parts, the Carousel area lead can instead devote more time to managing the people on the floor and helping to mitigate issues.

This process has also helped play a part in enabling the Red Wing Carousel Department to print the same number of bags as in previous years while running the printers only 40 hours per week instead of 58. Additionally, Warehouse picking time has been reduced, as that department is now able to pick product ahead of time for production, which reduces the amount of time spent waiting for product.

Kudos to everyone who had a hand in making this new automated scheduling process a reality!

Photo Caption: Several departments at Koozie Group’s Red Wing, Minnesota, location recently teamed up to create a new and more efficient automated scheduling process for Carousels, the department that screen prints on bags. Pictured here, from left to right, are Red Wing Production Scheduler Michael Duren, Value Stream Manager Chris Broeckaert, Production Lead for Carousels Jean Murillo, Warehouse Supervisor Charles Ericson, and Value Stream Continuous Improvement Engineer Andrew Chollet.

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