Indo-Canadian duo launching software that can revolutionise SME Indian manufacturing [Sep 2011]

Pune based ERP software maker PCSoft and Canada’s Taylor Group launches innovative production scheduling software which will empower small and medium sized Indian manufacturers to drastically improve plant floor operations
Pune based ERP software maker, PCSoft, has joined hands with Canada’s Taylor Group to launch a highly simplified and low-cost Advanced Production Planning and Scheduling (APS) software. According to PCSoft, this software tool can empower SME Indian manufacturers, who otherwise have limited financial resources and technical expertise to optimise their plant floor operations due to real-time visibility and greater management control. So far APS usage has been the privilege of only large manufacturing corporations in India, with sizable turnover. Through DecisionOne, even small Indian manufacturers and assembly setups will be able to adopt popular new-age productivity boosting precepts such as capacity planning, just-in-time inventory control and lean manufacturing.
Small and medium sized Indian manufacturers are increasingly aware that persisting slowdown in world economies provides them a golden opportunity to find a place in the global manufacturing chain. However, to compete internationally, the typical small-sized Indian manufacturer has to be far more efficient than it has been in the past. Over the years process analysts and ERP implementers from PCSoft, who primarily serve the manufacturing sector, discovered a great amount of ‘process waste’ emanating from most small scale manufacturers in India. Although the concept of ‘process waste’ may seem straight forward, it may be quite nebulas to identify. Japanese production experts have famously identified three broad types of waste: Muda (wasteful activities), Mura (unevenness) and Muri (overburden).
The Indo-Canadian duo claim that the use of professional planning and scheduling technology has been acutely missing among small industries in India so far. Even today a large number of manufacturing factories in India use manual methods of scheduling production and planning capacity, especially within set-ups of small magnitude. Such manual means have very low degree of precision and can prove highly wasteful by leading to problems such as blind procurement, excessively long production cycles, delayed delivery and ultimately unsatisfied customers. Manual production planning typically leads to tremendous waste of manpower, material resources and time, ultimately rendering profit margins to paper thin values if not running into negative. Apart from optimisation, APS also enables greater flexibility, since it readily adapts to changes in demand, resource capacity or material availability.In a joint statement, PCSoft’s spokesperson, expressed that “Small Indian manufacturers could leap ahead in the global arena if they optimise usage of their limited resources which includes machines, tools, dies, operators, manual laborers etc. In fact India itself can become a global manufacturing hub, a preferred destination for relocation or outsourcing, if SME operations become highly efficient in this way.”
The APS software which will be bundled together with PCSoft’s ERP package as a supplementary add-on, provides color coded GANTT charts to visually optimise real-time workloads in various stages of production. Using this software, not only will the plant’s overall function become optimised, material resources saved, and manpower utilisation improved – delivery quotes given by the manufacturer to customers will be very accurate, since promised delivery dates are based on the realities of the plant’s operations. At any given time, top management can view the forthcoming week’s agenda (and workload) for every given ‘resource’ – including work-centres, large machines, small machines, tools, dies, operators and unskilled labourers.
While explicating how the software application functions PCSoft’s Managing Director, Sateesh Jain, explained, “When orders arrive at the factory, they are punched into the ERP which passes data onward to the APS tool and this automatically systematises production based on priority and optimal machine usage. At any time, planners and top management can see many orders are in pipeline, status of each order’s fulfillment and how much spare capacity is available to accept more orders. Our APS supports both built-to-order and built-to-stock types of operations”.
Consistent with the precepts of Lean, Kaizan and Toyota Production System (TPS), the APS tool provides the kind of superior visibility required to discern between productive and non-productive activities, and then counter inefficiencies by increasing utilization of key resources. A truly lean strategy can be implemented by using APS along with MRP and ERP in an interconnected manner, because when combined you can ensure there is no overproduction, no over-processing and no defects. APS can also handle plant floor contingencies like sudden machine breakdown, equipment repair, holidays/vacations, operator absence and shortage of feedstock. For instance in the case of unexpected breakdown to a machine, the load is automatically adjusted to other matching machines with spare capacity.
PCSOFT’s Head of Business Development, Saurabh Dey explained, “Although a handful of scheduling products are commercially available in India, most are too complex or too expensive for small sized Indian manufacturers to utilise, given the latter’s limited IT expertise and financial resources. Due to this, APS software has thus far remained the privilege of only large manufacturers with significant resources in India. Our APS tool is revolutionary because it empowers the small and medium sized Indian manufacturer with the same resources as the large companies, at a fraction of the cost and will much less complexity”.
The Indo-Canadian duo explicated that DecisionOne is the first APS tool focusing squarely on SMEs. While traditional APS tools are highly complex and require great technical expertise as well as financial resources to utilise. They claim, DecisionOne is easy enough and cost effective enough for small scale Indian companies to leverage. Neil Taylor, president of Taylor Group, who was in India recently expressed that the duo plans to introduce the merits of their simplified APS tool to many small scale manufacturers and assembly operations in Maharashtra and Gujarat before proceeding to other major industrial belts.

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