CASE STUDY

Factory 4.0: LIB Lumber

LIB Lumber built a state-of-the-art mill around a data-driven culture.

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When the construction of the state-of-the-art LIB Lumber mill began in Princeville, Quebec, the management, under the leadership of Mr. Guy BLONDEAU, knew that it needed advanced data-driven tools to support its business model.

Challenge

Finding powerful tools to support the data-driven culture and the efficient operation of the new, state-of the-art mill in Princeville, Quebec.

Solution

Our signature software suite, PMP TeamMate™, linking every key operation in the mill, from planning to shipping for fully integrated control over wood transformation and management operations.

Benefits

The confidence of knowing that mill employees are responsive to quality deviations in real time and that historical production data can be used to drive further optimization, leading to a more agile and profitable business.

The challenge

The unique challenge posed by LIB Lumber is the unique design of its manufacturing line, capable of sawing and planing wood simultaneously, relying on a single optimizer. For this reason, the LIB Lumber plant must sort rough and planed lumber, both green and kiln dried.

So doing, the LIB Lumber plant could allocate a certain number of sorter bins to rough lumber and the remainder to planed lumber. When bundles drop, the line is designed to route them to the yard—for drying or as an end product.

From the start, Mr. BLONDEAU was convinced that the only way to operate efficiently, flexibly, and profitably was to leverage the power of data—something the new high-tech factory generates a lot of. The LIB Lumber plant is indeed a veritable technology showcase.

LIB Lumber factory floor

The solution

What happens under the hood of PMP TeamMate

Without actionable insights and a data-driven culture, LIB Lumber could not operate at the level of efficiency, productivity, and quality it does now. Part of the reason it does is PMP TeamMate and the power it offers mill employees to drive key decisions (whether on the plant floor or in the executive offices) with hard data.

When PMP SOLUTIONS came on as an IT technology supplier for the new mill, we immediately set to the task of asserting the unique complexity of the Princeville mill, and then proceeded to map the necessary equipment integrations and to contextualize relevant data (in relation to each other) that would offer the most useful insights.

LIB Lumber has truly embraced Industry 4.0, requiring actionable insights at each step of its operations, from its sales and operations planning (S&OP) to its inventory tracking.

In over 15 years of working with wood transformation plants, we’ve seen well over 100 mill designs. The LIB Lumber line posed a unique challenge, but the standardized data structure used by PMP TeamMate made it relatively straightforward to configure the solution to produce easy-to-understand reports including the overall efficiency of the mill, as well as its efficiency per product category and transformation process.

We deployed:

  • PMP WeSaw™ for sawing operations
  • PMP WeDry™ for drying operations
  • PMP WePlane™ for planing operations
  • PMP WeTrack™ to better manage the lumber inventory
  • PMP WeSchedule™ brings it all together by coordinating operations with sales and operational constraints.

PMP TeamMate is connected to every piece of relevant equipment producing data in the mill, the ERP, and accounting software. The solution processes all this data, combines it, and presents it in relation to each other for clearer performance insights—something individual equipment reports don’t and, indeed, can’t do.

Beyond the relevant dashboards positioned strategically throughout the mill, we also designed a “hybrid” dashboard regrouping the key sawing and planing indicators (availability, productivity, and quality), and configured the labeling system to make it easy to identify and track rough, planed, green, and dry bundles.

The benefits

PMP TeamMate, as deployed for LIB Lumber, was flexible enough to adapt to the unique nature of this ultramodern wood transformation plant.

BETTER RESPONSIVENESS

By configuring specific, attainable, and realistic limits in the software, key plant-floor personnel can rely on PMP TeamMate dashboards to give them up-to-the-moment information about process performance (in other words, whether they’re on target or not). If key performance indicators deviate from the preset acceptable tolerance, PMP TeamMate raises the alarm, which empowers personnel to take swift and effective corrective actions. Since PMP TeamMate information is easy to understand, it requires very little data literacy from plant-floor personnel to make impactful decisions that increase their control over operations.

BETTER CONTROL = BETTER QUALITY

Timely corrective actions automatically result in better quality products—on average a 5.5 % increase of high grades and a 4.2 % decrease of low grades. They also improve the quality of the communication between the management, sales, and operations, because everyone can see the impact on productivity, efficiency, and quality—hence on the bottom line.

BETTER UNDERSTANDING

Timely operational reports and powerful analytics made possible by the PMP TeamMate data structure and processing make one of LIB Lumber Director of Operations Sarah-Eve BLONDEAU’s job of pinpointing areas of improvement much easier. The deep insights that can be gained from analyzing trends can bring to light issues that would be difficult to see otherwise and may be attributed to the wrong root causes.

 

In an economy where focus is increasingly shifting from quantity to quality, it’s important to understand where, when, and how to improve operations to get the best quality out of scarce raw material. This has been our business at PMP SOLUTIONS for over 15 years and 100 successful deployments in the United States and Canada. Contact us today to find out how we can help you grow your wood transformation business.

PMP TeamMate business intelligence dashboard.

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