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Kendrick Plastics Optimizes Operations by Digitizing from the Ground Up

Twenty-seven different software systems are consolidated to maximize efficiencies, cut costs, and increase plant uptime.

Stephen Moore

September 19, 2022

4 Min Read
worker entering information on computer
Image courtesy of Kendrick Plastics

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

Data silos stifle innovation

Utilizing multiple software systems to facilitate manufacturing operations was inefficient and uncompetitive for a business of its size. These systems absorbed valuable resources across departments, including manual data reconciliation, significant IT support for hardware and software management, and managing suboptimal manufacturing data tracking. This software environment created data silos, leading to issues with synchronization that resulted in high costs and limitations on the company’s ability to innovate.

So, when Kendrick Plastics was spun off, it turned to cloud-based solutions provider Plex to streamline its operations by deploying systems for end-to-end company processes, including production monitoring and planning, quality assurance, and inventory management.

Opportunity to digitize from the outset

With its new beginnings, Kendrick possessed the opportunity to digitize operations from the outset, which is somewhat rare in the manufacturing industry. “Often, manufacturers are struggling to update legacy technology and processes to meet demands of the modern era. However, we saw the advantage of digitizing from the ground up,” said Anthony Murphy, VP of Product Management and Applications at Plex.

Plex's smart manufacturing platform helped Kendrick Plastics realize 90% production attainment and significantly reduce scrap rates.

A Rockwell Automation company, Plex provides the smart manufacturing platform software used by Kendrick Plastics to manage and optimize production. Currently, nearly every feature of Plex’s smart manufacturing technologies is being utilized. Kendrick Plastics is consistently developing new process innovations to gain more visibility into facility operations and machinery. Plex has helped the transformation by enabling connected data, which allows Kendrick to quickly innovate and transform the business without having to integrate disparate systems, a resource-intensive process for many organizations.

Connected data enabled by Plex allows Kendrick to utilize real-time operational information to optimize daily performance. With end-to-end operational visibility, Kendrick can compare machine and facility performance data against target metrics to determine how best to optimize production to meet goals.

Plex’s connected data enables machine operators at Kendrick to order things they need during the shift based on the electronic bill of material. Operators can order everything they need from packaging, work in progress (WIP), purchased parts inventories, and even finished goods inventory pick up.

Another feature enabled via real-time feeds of operational information allows staff to announce an outage, for example, throughout the facility and inform workers that the problem is being fixed. Employees are also able to access Plex on their mobile devices.

Industry 4.0 pragmatism

Pragmatically approaching Industry 4.0, Kendrick is carefully assessing and selecting technologies and processes to implement. In the same careful way, Kendrick leverages Plex’s real-time data feeds to monitor and assess the quality of parts made at each assembly station. Each product must go through a quality pass before it can be packed for shipment.

Thanks to Plex’s smart manufacturing capabilities, Kendrick Plastics has achieved tighter controls on indirect and direct labor percentages as part of sales. In addition, Plex helped Kendrick realize 90% production attainment, as well as significantly reduce scrap rates. These adjustments have helped Kendrick save costs and other resources, such as time and labor, in a time of economic uncertainty.

Kendrick has gained yet another capability with Plex — barcode scanning. The company can now track inventory precisely as plant floor workers scan it into and out of every location in the facility, all of which is captured in Plex in real time. In addition, Kendrick has dramatically streamlined its batch building process. Rather than pre-printing a stack of container labels, the company can simply print them after production based on records in Plex.

Various operational aspects are enhanced through Kendrick’s deployment of Plex. For example, rather than walking over to the raw material bank and waiting for a product to be dispensed, plant floor workers can order it from their workstations and pick it up when it is ready.

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

“The biggest advantage of having a cloud ERP system is the uptime and reliability,” summarized David Chupp, IT Manager at Kendrick. “With Plex, we know that as long as we have an internet connection, we can keep shipping products. That alone is increasing our competitive advantage.”

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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