Alcan Can and Does with Quintiq

May 09, 2003 | 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
Leading aluminium and specialist packaging manufacturer Alcan has achieved something spectacular. It has managed to place the systems of a small Netherlands-based supply chain planning vendor at the heart of its U.S. manufacturing operations. Overcoming the not invented here syndrome turned out to be easy when the systems provided by little-known Quintiq outshone incumbent adversary i2 and corporate provider SAP.

With revenue exceeding $12.5B, 48,000 employees, and facilities in 38 countries, Alcan is not a small company. It has heavy asset reliance due to the nature of its manufacturing process, which includes primary and fabricated aluminium production. Four years ago, the company began the task of increasing the performance of its finite planning in order to better utilise its assets to provide greater flexibility in customer response and lead times and reduce inventory levels by 30%. One of the major areas of focus is capital efficiency, so the company utilised SAP for order processing, high-level planning, and financials, but it required a specially built system for finite scheduling.

Until that could happen, Alcan needed help to determine the business process changes that were required. Through word of mouth, Alcan contacted Quintiq. Interestingly, Mr. Kevin Greenwalt, the vice president of production-rolled products at Alcan, explained that Quintiq was not simply chosen for its software; Quintiq has a strong business process-centric approach and is very knowledgeable of the industry. The software was, in effect, a very welcome bonus. Another bonus of working with a smaller company, according to Mr. Greenwalt, was the attention Alcan has received throughout the relationship from all levels within Quintiq. Alcan uses Quintiq's systems for finite scheduling, including scheduling specific machine centres and operations, as well as optimising machine efficiency. Quintiq handles 90% of the customisation requirements, supplemented by a small team at Alcan.

In the United States, the manufacturing divisions use i2 for high-level planning, but finite scheduling was carried out by homegrown legacy systems. There is little production overlap between the United States and Europe, so the selection of a new finite scheduling system was not influenced by existing functionality other than looking at the increased performance achieved in Europe. After careful and detailed evaluation, the U.S. group also opted for Quintiq for its hot and cold rolling mills. As cycle times reduce, detailed planning and scheduling become even more important, so Quintiq is becoming more important in Alcan's success over time.

Source: 2003, AMR Research, Nigel Montgomery

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