Kingspan building frames on time

17 Dec Kingspan building frames on time

Kingspan off-site manufacture Architectural Facade Systems, Volumetric Systems, and Wall Framing & Sections from cold rolled steel at the company’s 50 acre site in North Yorkshire. The company operates on a lean manufacturing basis and yet offers flexibility in meeting varying and demanding requirements of its customers. At the heart of this capability is Preactor APS scheduling that has been specially configured to meet Kingspan’s particular requirements by Pantek.

Kingspan’s systems are rapidly speeding up construction programmes throughout the UK and Ireland. The manufacturing process takes slitted rolls of stainless and galvanised steel and forms components through a programmable rolling and punching machine. These components can be finished items but the majority are subcomponents that are then assembled to make finished building frames. During assembly insulation and finish cladding is added, the shipped product being ready for installation at the construction site. This method of building “off-site” produces many advantages in terms of repeatable quality, dimensional accuracy and on site construction speed.

Kingspan Metl-Con Ltd, Sherburn, North Yorkshire, UK, produces metal prefabricated frames as part of Kingspan Off Site solutions, who in turn integrate products and systems from across other Kingspan businesses. This enables the provision of a broad range of solutions involving structure, roof, wall, façade, envelope carrier and rain screen systems. These are supported by full accreditation and regulatory compliance. In addition they offer a high level of specification, quality and certainty including performance warranties from a single source Kingspan Off Site provides a range of solutions from foundation to roof.

Kingspan Metl-Con realised early in the business that to deliver reliably without having extensive and costly stock would require a special consideration in developing its new business model. Initially this represented a considerable dilemma as it was clear that the complexity, permutations and flexibly required of the business could not be addressed by manual systems or standard scheduling solutions. Following a Pantek “Making Data Work” Seminar and initial enquiry turned into an on-going and successful working relationship between the two companies. Pantek’s Preactor Specialist, Darryl Dickinson, assisted with the user requirements development, the functional design and in system deployment.

In scheduling terms there were significant problems in the nature of what Kingspan needed to run an efficient and lean business and in delivering an effective and sustainable scheduling solution. The nature of Kingspan’s business differs from many other manufacturing processes in that there are no standard products or components. A customer’s requirements will of necessity involve architectural design, other specification and detail requirements and supply to a constantly evolving market that demands flexibility as a business norm.

The initial review of potential scheduling methods indicated that procedures could become over complex. Preactor 400 APS offers various options to deal with particular manufacturing process, Darryl Dickinson’s product and application knowledge allowed the best scheduling scenario to be agreed with Kingspan’s planning and operations team. A rationalised approach was agreed and this has proved to be an effective method in the staged deployment of Preactor through all stages of Kingspan’s manufacture.

The slit steel rolls that are the raw material of the process have a wide range of widths and thicknesses. The slitting being done according to the company’s planning system, the forming of the rolls in an on-demand environment is scheduled by the Preactor system.

Although there are no Part Numbers owing to the very changeable requirements that the company deals with, virtual Part Numbers are added by the system to allow scheduling to be executed. These components are assembled to become finished frames that are fully traceable and fully comply with contract specifications. Preactor controls the flow of material through the plant allowing a job to be identified in all stages of the manufacturing process. Preactor additionally delivers various reports that allow Kingspan to directly measure its schedule adherence – a key KPI given the nature of their business.

Scheduling is undertaken daily at Kingspan, this is now easy to achieve and ensures that the right frames are being manufactured according the short notice changes that can for example be caused by weather conditions at the construction site or delays in the build programme. The facility ensures that Kingspan can offer extraordinary high levels of customer service without incurring expensive work in progress and stock.

When interviewed, Darryl Dickinson, Pantek Preactor Product Manager, said, “The manufacturing process presented an interesting challenge for the Preactor system. On the one hand the number of different rolled parts combined with different hole configurations made the use of unique part numbers impractical. Whilst on the other the assembly process demanded that each part be individually synchronised to be available at the right time without the creation of excessive work in progress. By combining an innovative approach with the functionality and flexibility of the Preactor system a solution was achieved that enabled Kingspan to effectively meet all the planning and scheduling objectives that were envisaged”

The deployment of the Preactor-based solution continues at Kingspan, a key stage that is in the current plan is to augment the system with Pantek’s Nexus solution that integrates real-time shop floor events to the scheduling scheme. This will allow un-planned events to be instantaneously brought to the attention of the system for active re-scheduling.

Kingspan have a high level of confidence in the system, Lyn Knox, planner, saying, “We simply had to have a clear and executable manufacturing schedule to enable us to meet our customer’s delivery needs, we offer high levels of customer service and the Preactor 400 APS system from Pantek delivers the tools for us to do the job.”  Kevin Gilbert, Planning and Operations Manager, added, “The Pantek system was developed in a highly professional and innovative manner with demonstrable knowledge of the scheduling task, in no small way attributable to the skills of all the people involved. The system delivers the solution to our lean manufacturing requirements.”

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