When it comes to business relationships, we expect promises to be kept. If someone does not keep those promises, we simply take our business elsewhere. So, it should come as no surprise that your clients expect the same when it comes to manufacturing. But always delivering on your promises is no easy feat. It requires Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software so that you can take your production to the next level.
Delivering on your promises takes a lot more than just making a simple production schedule. You must be able to forecast product demand, manage sudden changes, reduce waste, allocate resources, and much more. The key to all of this is APS. An APS will also allow you to:
A lot like trying to do your taxes without your previous year’s information, on its own, an APS is virtually useless. The proper data sets need to be fed into the APS in real-time so that it can manage change and make the necessary decisions. On the other end, the APS needs somewhere to feed the information it formulates.
The integration between a manufacturer’s ERP and APS is integral to scheduling and planning in real-time. APS Systems do not inherently contain the resource data necessary for making decisions. Instead, it relies on the ERP to feed it various data, such as material levels, personnel information, or historical sales data. On the other end, the APS can provide inventory and scheduling data back to the ERP, thus creating deeper visibility into the manufacturing environment. The departments and systems across the organization are then able to utilize that visibility even further yet, such as communicating inventory levels, timelines, or availability dates via their e-commerce platform.
Once an APS has produced plans and schedules using the resource data provided by an ERP, it then feeds that information to the MES for actual production execution. The MES uses that data across the facility to create, distribute, and perform different processes.
An ERP integrated into an APS provides it with the sales data necessary for demand forecasting. Demand forecasting is the ability to predict the changes in demand for the goods a plant manufactures. Using the sales and other various data provided by the ERP, demand forecasting functionality tells an APS how much of each product should be produced at any given time. Production levels can be predicted weeks and months into the future. For make-to-stock manufacturing, it’s easy to see why this type of functionality is so appealing, as failing to forecast product demand can quickly lead to inventory shortages or overproduction. Meanwhile, make-to-order manufacturers can still benefit from this functionality as they can use this information to better prepare for future orders.
Running efficiently means a plant must be able to allocate its resources in the most optimized ways so orders can be manufactured and delivered on time. Historically, plants often just had someone do this tedious work by hand. Thanks to the planning capabilities of APS Systems, this means that an employee dedicated to editing spreadsheets eight or more hours per day is no longer required.
By optimally minimizing the amount of time and resources required for each order, production planning tools can allocate resources for days, weeks, or even months into the future. Orders can be planned through the grouping of batches and like production runs to reduce changeover. This level of functionality means that a plant’s planning can move from being reactive to proactive.
It’s difficult to understate the power of the scheduling functionality provided by modern APS Systems. Whether it’s been via paper and pen or Excel spreadsheets, the production schedule has always been the backbone of any plant. By utilizing the demand and production tools, APS tools can create multiple what-if schedules and choose the one that best works given the facility’s rules and logic. Those rules can even be built out to include time for preventative maintenance! Furthermore, APS Systems can produce and distribute visual schedules so that team members at any level can easily understand them.
Reduce Stress on Team Members
Historically, plants have had to have employees dedicated to scheduling out jobs. These poor souls have had the unlucky privilege of spending their entire workdays just trying to stay on top of the next day’s schedule. Very often more focus was on simply trying to avoid delays due to change or rush orders instead of proactively scheduling. The schedules themselves often included thousands of lines of cells and would become almost impossible to share due to their file size. Throw in a sick operator or machine downtime, and you have yourself a scheduler pulling their hair out while trying to rearrange jobs trying to accommodate. An APS System reducing that level of aggravation means happy team members and higher employee retention for the organization.
Managing Unforeseen Changes
Over time, issues will always arise when it comes to manufacturing. Whether it’s machine downtime, material shortages, or shipment delays, things happen and that’s all there is to it. To deliver on your promises, you must be prepared to resolve issues and avoid costly delays, and APS tools can help you do that. APS Systems can quickly create alternative schedules that accommodate sudden changes and then choose the option that creates the least amount of delay and waste.
One of the greatest benefits of modern systems is their accessibility from virtually anywhere. Many APS Systems are accessible via browser or app and therefore can be accessed from any location using the proper credentials. This means that production plans and schedules can be created in a single location but delivered to multiple facilities. Did a certain machine break down while your scheduler isn’t on property? No worries, they can easily access and adjust the schedule while working from home.
At this point, it should be clear why an APS System is imperative in today’s manufacturing world. Gone are the days of excessive waste, delays, and employee burnout. The benefits provided by the integrations to your ERP and MES alone are worth the cost of implementation.
To create a transparent experience for your clients, you must have real-time visibility into your plant’s planning and schedule yourself. Simply put, you can’t share information if you don’t know it yourself. Today’s APS tools not only give you insight into this data but also allow you to easily share it with your clients.