24th August 2020
Foiling – Lead times for stock and made to order products
Across the industry we have seen exceptional levels of demand over the past 2 months, especially in the trade sector, and this looks like it will continue through until the end of November.
This has certainly been true for foiled products where demand is around 25% up on the busiest period of last year. Please see details below on how we plan to manage these levels of business and also a short explanation of what we are doing to increase production in response.
- Made to order foils – From Monday 24th August these will be on a minimum of 6 weeks lead time. We will review this on a weekly basis with our Planning Team, who will advise lead times based on the current order book. The Customer Service Team will confirm the delivery date when you place you order. For larger commercial projects, we suggest you advise your customers now, so you can jointly plan the project start dates. Please note that made to order foils for the Charisma vertical sliding range will be on an 8-week minimum lead time.
- Stock foils – The range is detailed in our Grow with Colours brochure. These remain ex-stock but there could be delays in deliveries. Many fabricators are now on 4- or 5-weeks lead times to their customers. What tends to happen is that orders due in week 5 are processed towards the end of week 4. We suggest that for foiled orders, you look to pull forward your processing by at least week and get these orders on early. This will build some time in to the system.
- Cut off times for orders generally – after the lock down, we had asked that you place all orders a day earlier with a cut off at 11am. The cut off time as of today, will be moved back to 3pm. So, a delivery on Monday needs to be ordered by 3pm on the previous Wednesday, or a Thursday delivery ordered by 3pm the previous Monday and so on.
Response to foiling demand
- We have 11 foiling machines. Currently all 11 are run on 12-hour day shifts Monday to Thursday, with 7 run 12 hours on night shift Monday to Thursday
- Friday and the weekends are used for overtime to balance the order book against demand. We have been running overtime for the past 2 months but as you can imagine, the foiling teams have already worked 48 hours in the standard week, so running overtime regularly can be quite demanding on individuals
- We are now in the process of employing another 5 foiling teams
- We will continue to run overtime until the additional teams are in place. The additional labour has lifted overall production by 25%
- We are now running 2 million metres of foil per month and that is effectively the plant’s current capacity. We have space for around1,500 stillages in the foiling plant (we bring the profile in 24 hours ahead of foiling to get it up to temperature and also store it for 2 days to cure before sending across to the main warehouse). Once we have our new warehouse operational as we go into 2021, it will give us scope to add to foiling capacity but in the short term we do have this upper limit.
- Overall demand is below 2 million metres a month, so we are producing for stock as well as orders. However, with the increased demand especially in grey, black and Rosewood, then there will be times when we do not have full stock cover for the range
- The main profiles are run on a weekly basis but some of the lower volume items run on a 2- or 3-week basis
- It has become increasingly difficult to deal with requests for orders to be brought forward in the plan. We have in the past managed this by moving the production plans around and using overtime to maintain overall lead times. As we approach plant capacity, then this is no longer possible without affecting the delivery dates of other customers orders.
- Profiles run at around 20 metres per minute and trims 30 metres a minute on the foiling lines. It takes just over 50 minutes to do a change of product, so when jobs are pulled forward and the rollers are changed over, this can lead to a loss in production of between 1,000 and 1,500 metres. It is because of this impact that we are trying to avoid making changes to the production plan when we are asked to improve delivery dates.
Eurocell are not alone with regards to lead times on foils. We know that some of our competitors have temporarily suspended made to order foils or have extended their lead times. One has unfortunately had a flood at their plant and lost a week’s production. Consequently, trade customers have moved their purchases to fabricators on other systems, which has concentrated demand further.
We realise that this is not an easy issue for you to manage with your customers, who are already on extended lead times from you. But by placing your foil orders earlier, then this is likely to help you fulfil your requirements.
As a final point, it is worth reiterating that our levels of production are above overall demand but balancing stocks across a wide range of foiled products cannot always be achieved.
Thank you for your understanding.
Eurocell Profiles Ltd