Customer Success: Sign-Zone Boosts Shop-Floor Productivity
Sign-Zone is a manufacturer of visual communication, event and promotional display merchandise. Founded in 1989, Sign-Zone is headquartered in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and has grown to over 400 employees strong. They maintain a production facility in the Twin Cities region along with eight remote distribution facilities across the United States.
The Production Environment
Sign-Zone’s 100,000 square foot production facility is made up of seven value streams that are managed by about 150 staff. Each value stream consists of workstations responsible for three to four tasks, for example, printing, sewing, or assembly. The production facility operates six days a week from Sunday to Friday running three shifts daily.
In 2006 Sign-Zone adopted Microsoft Dynamics NAV to help support its production and accounting functions. A homegrown internal website was developed to deliver customer sales order information from NAV to the shop floor where employees would carry out the manufacturing process. Today, Sign-Zone processes 600-1,200 production orders a day.
While Sign-Zone started out small, it has grown into a multi-million-dollar domestic manufacturer. The time had come to evaluate operations to streamline production, minimize waste, improve quality, and increase efficiency. The following deficiencies were identified:
- Sign-Zone had been using the basic inventory functionality offered in Dynamics NAV. As such, Sign Zone’s visibility was limited to what warehouse an item was located in. They did not know the specific location or bin within the warehouse.
- Inventory was difficult to manage. Dynamics NAV would allow inventory levels to enter negative digits.
- Production workers would assemble orders based off sales orders. Sales orders lacked a detailed material list and production orders. As such, workers had to rely on tribal knowledge to manufacturer items.
- There was no structure in scheduling which items should be produced including how and when they move through different workstations. This caused mistakes as well as the use of wrong materials when producing items.
- While supervisors were aware of what orders were assigned to specific workstations, there was no visibility into how many hours of work was required for an order at any given time.
- Some customer’s orders were large enough to consume all production floor resources for several days so it was challenging to manually balance scheduling smaller orders with earlier due dates while still ensuring larger commitments stayed on target.
- With so many orders being shipped daily, it was difficult to track the status of orders in production and ensure a priority sequence so shipping cut-off times would not be missed.
- All sales orders maintained the same level of priority regardless of delivery dates, as a result, items were not being produced at the correct time so shipping dates were missed.
- Clearly identify production orders and communicate these orders to workers.
- Workers need to know what their specific task is and when it needs to be done.
- Identify the priority of each production order.
Once the objectives were identified, the Sign-Zone team created a requirements document. At that point, Sign-Zone reached out to ArcherPoint, their Microsoft Dynamics NAV partner. The ArcherPoint team met with Sign-Zone to understand fully their objectives and requirements.
Turn on Advanced Warehousing in Dynamics NAV
By enabling and configuring the advanced warehouse features in Dynamics NAV, Sign-Zone can accurately manage and track the inventory needed for production orders. The specific location and quantity of each item can be easily identified.
Implement Barcode Scanning
Integrate the Shop Floor Data Collection Add-on for NAV
- Assign specific tasks to workers.
- Identify when a task was complete and can be moved onto the next stage.
- Measure scrap and defects which prompts the scheduling of rework.
- Display operation, part, and order specific work instructions including raw materials and viewable print/drawing.
Integrate Advanced Planning and Scheduling
Configure NAV to Execute Specific Processes
- Reduced scrap and re-work due to more clearly defined tasks.
- Items are produced on time because of clearly defined and prioritized schedules.
- New staff is more productive as their tasks are clearly defined.
- Materials are available when needed because of inventory is accurately tracked and maintained.
- Better decision making at the management level due to increased shop floor visibility.
- Significantly reducing the manual effort previously required as a result of automated scheduling.