In view of the current economic climate, companies, which are able to accurately see the financial status of the company, will have a significant advantage over competitors. To achieve this they have been investing in specialised software to support the decision making process by using accurate indicators. These numbers show the exact areas where it is necessary to improve in order to survive.
Antara is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system developed specifically for the leather industry. Developed by SystemHaus, a Brazilian company located in Novo Hamburgo, more than 20 years ago, with a subsidiary in Europe, Antara is a software specially adapted to control the most diverse scenarios in the leather production, providing tools for accurate information about tannery key production performance indices and providing easy and effective planning, resulting in fast, responses and effective results a few months after implementation.

Scheduling production

Production scheduling is a complex task in a tannery. Often, fictitious delivery dates are given to customers due to the complexity of scheduling without an appropriate tool, and generic systems are unable to provide a reliable scheduling, since they are not prepared to consider the specific variables in a leather production process. Knowing this, SystemHaus has dedicated years of research with professionals who understand the leather manufacturing process and production scheduling techniques to develop a production-scheduling module, which considers the characteristics of each tannery department, such as:
• Drum scheduling, considering the capacity of each drum in kilograms and the recipe total time, with the possibility of scheduling multiple rounds during the day
• Possibility of scheduling by machine/work centre, defining the unit of measurement for the scheduling (area, pieces, weight or time)
• Milling drums scheduling, considering load time, process time and unload time, according to standard set times
• Restrictions by colour shade for work centres, which are able to work only with specific tones, such as a spray or drum for light colours only
• Restrictions by animal type, for companies that manufacture leather from different species and also have specific machinery for each type
• Production scheduling by considering machines that work in a line, eg setting out machine, vacuum and hang drying etc
• Production routes that enable the scheduling of one order in different companies within the group
The system has tools that provide an easy and fast way to schedule and reschedule production orders, saving time spent in this process, The result of this specialisation can be seen in practice: in some medium-sized tanneries rates of delivery on time have increased from 30% to over 95% after three months using Antara’s scheduling module; a result that undoubtedly changes the image of the tannery for its customers and it becomes an important competitive differential.

Yield – main key performance indicator
During production, hides are submitted to various physico-mechanical actions and, as a consequence, the area changes. This variation ‘yield’ has a direct impact on the final cost of the article. If one production order has a loss of yield higher than expected, its cost will be higher as well and the final production order result could be jeopardised. When this happens, it is essential to analyse the process and identify the reasons that caused the unexpected yield loss, and take appropriate actions to fix the problems in order to avoid the same thing happening again.
Yield analysis provides an overview about the efficiency and standardisation of the production process. A structured tannery defines yield targets for each article and follows up actual results. A higher loss of yield than the average shows process inefficiency, while large oscillations show a lack of standardisation within the production process.
However, it is not simple to control yield. In a practical way, one production order can be subdivided in other production orders for different customers during the process or it can have some hides picked up for sampling or testing. Thus, if the ERP does not have a total traceability control, not all the useful information is available, and someone will be spending a lot of time trying to organise a reliable report.
Using this software system, tannery managers can follow all sub-divided production orders to get reliable yield reports, reject statistics, reasons for rejects, quantity of trimmings, etc. All these functionalities allow the evaluation of process efficiency and support the decision making process in order to minimise losses and maximise profits.
Uptime and efficiency – improving shop floor performance
Improving shop floor performance is possible when all problems and bottlenecks are known. Using Antara, it is possible to have a clear picture of the reasons that are affecting results and also how to improve bottlenecks. To collect data Antara uses barcode readers installed on the shop floor, where operators input information about all the steps executed in production, including quantities, times, downtimes and reasons for the downtime.
The comparison of execution times against standard times gives the percentage of efficiency for each machine. Also, the comparison of worked time against available time over a period of time for each machine displays the uptime percentage. Using Antara, it is possible to control these two variables. The program helps to measure key performance indexes and to identify and act where the indices are below that expected. This software can provide production performance increments and also help by decreasing operational costs.
Purchase planning
Planning raw material purchases has a direct impact on stock level and also on cash flow. Purchasing the wrong product may result in storing them for months, hence creating an imbalance in cash flow followed by financial cost for having unused products in stock.
Antara helps to solve this issue using the tool called ‘future stock’, which provides an overview about all raw materials needed to supply scheduled sales order, the stock available and the expected wet-blue selections. This information gives a ‘picture’ of the stock, highlighting the selections, which are missing or abundant. Using this tool, it is possible for tanneries to plan raw material purchases in the right way or to redirect some sales based on raw material availability.

Integrated cost – cost analysis solution
An effective cost analysis needs a practical and reliable tool, which shows where to act to have immediate results. The cost module in this software is designed to show clearly all incidences of cost in a production order, step by step during production execution: raw material, chemicals, operational costs, subcontracts etc. It considers also the cost recovery with byproducts, the losses with rejects, reworks and its impact in the operational cost.
This tool allows the tannery to see the real profit by article and it is also a potential tool to determine a sale-price level.
Cost control is very important to see how much actual cost was compared with each order produced and also the profits over each sale delivered. Using this information it is possible for tanneries to have tools to correct deviations in production and become more competitive in the leather market. Antara has an integrated cost tool, within the cost module, where cost control is based on the operational cost aggregation over the product’s basic cost together with all other affecting values (raw material, chemical, operational costs, subcontracts etc). Also, it is possible to control offcuts and losses with rejects, making it possible to calculate the cost of reworking and its impact on operational costs.

Software technology
Developed in a Java J2EE platform with API’s open source, Antara is a tool, which works with the latest technology. With a user friendly graphic interface, which makes the system usage easy and fast, it, can connect to any database.

Connectivity – plug and play
Using the Antara integration tool it is possible to exchange data with shop floor machinery. This information can be recipes and chemical consumption from drum automation, information from measuring machines, chemical consumption from spray machines, or any other machinery, which can be integrated. Beyond shop floor machinery, the tool provides a framework for integration with other systems. In the case of a tannery having an administrative system and wishing to have Antara as its production control, this tool will provide all facilities and mechanisms to make integration possible between both systems in a very simple and structured way.

Project management
Antara is software designed to work in the reality of a tannery to obtain the expected results. However, these results are only achieved if the implementation is planned and implemented successfully. The methodology evolved since the first trials with customers 20 years ago makes a positive difference in a successful implementation.
SystemHaus brings project predictability in terms of scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, risks, procurement, communication and integration.
Being a practical and flexible tool, Antara works very well in large companies with plants spread worldwide where it is necessary to implement a multi-plant control using all Antara’s functionalities. Also for smaller tanneries, it is possible to implement the system in a modular way, starting from modules, which will bring immediate benefits with further complementary modules added as required.