Kendrick Plastics Optimizes Operations by Digitizing

After spinning out of its previous ownership, Kendrick Plastics needed to scale down from a multinational manufacturing management system to a regional system for the mid-market. Prior to Kendrick’s founding, the site operated as a factory within a larger organization and used 27 different software systems. Grand Rapids, MI-based Kendrick is a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier of decorative interior trim components and assemblies to the automotive industry.

Data silos stifle innovation

Using multiple software systems to facilitate manufacturing operations was inefficient and uncompetitive for a company of this size. These systems absorbed valuable resources across all departments, including manual data reconciliation, significant IT support for hardware and software management, and managing sub-optimal manufacturing data tracking. This software environment created data silos, resulting in synchronization issues that led to high costs and limited the company’s ability to innovate.

When then Kendrick Plastics was spun offit turned to cloud-based solution provider Plex to streamline its operations through deployment Systems for end-to-end business processes, including production monitoring and planning, quality assurance and inventory management.

Opportunity to digitize right from the start

With its new beginnings, Kendrick had the opportunity from the start to digitize operations, which is rather rare in the manufacturing industry. “Manufacturers often struggle to update outdated technology and processes to meet the needs of the modern era. However, we have seen the benefit of going digital from the ground up,” said Anthony Murphy, VP of Product Management and Applications at Plex.

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Image courtesy of Kendrick Plasticsmanufacturing operation
Plex’s intelligent manufacturing platform helped Kendrick Plastics achieve 90% production attainment and significantly reduced scrap rates.

Plex, a Rockwell Automation company, provides the intelligent manufacturing platform software used by Kendrick Plastics to manage and optimize production. Currently, almost all features of Plex’s intelligent manufacturing technologies are being used. Kendrick Plastics is constantly developing new process innovations to gain more insight into plant operations and machines. Plex has supported the transformation by enabling connected data, allowing Kendrick to rapidly innovate and transform the business without having to integrate disparate systems, a resource-intensive process for many companies.

Connected data, enabled by Plex, allows Kendrick to leverage real-time operational information to optimize day-to-day performance. With end-to-end operational visibility, Kendrick can compare machine and line performance data against target metrics to determine how production can best be optimized to meet targets.

Connected data from Plex allows machine operators at Kendrick to order things they need during the shift based on the electronic bill of materials. Operators can order everything they need from packaging, work in progress (WIP), inventory levels for purchased parts, to pickup of finished goods.

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Another function activated via rReal-time feeds of operational information allow staff to, for example, announce an outage across the facility and notify workers that the issue is being addressed. Employees can also access Plex from their mobile devices.

Industry 4.0 pragmatism

Kendrick takes a pragmatic approach to Industry 4.0, carefully evaluating and selecting technologies and processes for implementation. In the same meticulous manner, Kendrick uses Plex’s real-time data feeds to monitor and assess the quality of the parts produced at each assembly station. Each product must go through a quality pass before it can be packed for shipment.

Thanks to Plex’s intelligent manufacturing capabilities, Kendrick Plastics has achieved tighter controls on the indirect and direct labor components as part of the sale. Additionally, Plex helped Kendrick achieve 90% production attainment and significantly reduced scrap rates. These adjustments have helped Kendrick save on costs and other resources such as time and labor during a time of economic uncertainty.

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Kendrick has added another feature with Plex – barcode scanning. The company can now accurately track inventory as plant workers scan it in and out from anywhere in the facility, all of which is captured in real time in Plex. In addition, Kendrick has significantly streamlined its batch building process. Instead of pre-printing a batch of container labels, the company can simply print them post-production based on records in Plex.

Various operational aspects are enhanced by Kendrick’s use of Plex. For example, instead of going to the commodity bank and waiting for a product to be issued, factory workers can order it from their workstations and pick it up when it’s ready.

The company manages EDI connections for 50 customer trading partners and 100 suppliers within the Plex platform, rather than logging into a separate system. And the company’s ordering process has gone from a multi-day challenge to a five-minute approval process.

“The biggest benefit of a cloud ERP system is uptime and reliability,” he summarized David Chupp, IT manager at Kendrick. “At Plex, we know we can ship products as long as we have an internet connection. That alone increases our competitive edge.”

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