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Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Factory Planning Solutions


  • Solution for manufacturers: batch, process, project managed
  • Supports: Make-to-Stock, Make-to-Order, Assemble-to-Order, Engineer-to-Order, etc.
  • Graphical solution with drag-and-drop capability for discrete and process production
  • Productivity increase for capacity, materials, and labor.  Supports Lean, FLOW, Demand Pull
  • Finite and Infinite capacity planning.  Supports alternate work centers, and routings
  • Backward and Forward Scheduling, replanning multiple times a day
  • US Manufacturer rolled out to 9 plants, acquired competitor and rolling out to 9 more

APS or Advanced Planning and Scheduling is generally an area where ERP solutions provide limited support. A typical approach within ERP systems is to assume infinite capacity, or, if you like, where you have unlimited hours in the day supported by unlimited capacity. The technique followed with ERP is to manage the Master Production Schedule and to reschedule production to provide the required level loading. APS solutions generally allow for both finite and infinite capacity as a method to test capacity and resource load strategies.

As the diagram above illustrates, there are multiple enterprise inputs and a few outputs to and from a typical APS solution. Planning horizons vary according to available data and the purpose for which longer range planning data will be used. What is not illustrated is a consolidation requirement when dealing with multiple plant situations. This could be national or global in scope. Where a capacity constraint exists, is it possible to offload orders to a different plant? This is not always an easy answer because it could be a factor of cost. Can we get the required materials and tooling to the other site? What is the cost of shipping from a remote location? If you have a high margin product this might not be an issue, but a significant factor for low margin products.

Under what circumstances should you consider an APS solution? Ask yourself the following questions, and if some or several apply, then reviewing APS may be a smart move.

  • Can you promise a delivery date with confidence—without using “standard lead times?”
  • Why do you have too much inventory—but still miss shipment dates?
  • Why do material shortages prevent production execution?
  • Why do you suffer from capacity shortages?
  • What happens if suppliers cannot meet delivery schedules?
  • What occurs when customers change delivery request dates (in or out)?
  • What if a process gets interrupted due to a machine breakdown?
  • What is the impact if we change lot size?
  • How do we manage by-products and co-products?
  • Do you have a need to control labor, or labor by skill or pay grade?

What are the typical benefits of APS?

  • Higher production uptime
  • Increased productivity and throughput of all resources
  • Increased labor & capacity utilization
  • Reduced overtime costs and other operating expenses
  • Reduced lost revenue due to production downtimes
  • Improved cash flow—reduced inventory
  • Increased inventory turns
  • Reduced lead times—better customer response
  • Increased revenue through improved due date performance
  • Optimized scheduling
  • Consider material and capacity requirements simultaneously
  • Order promising based on material and capacity availability
  • Planning process integrated with the shop floor
  • Expect ROI in less than a year
  • Impact of order change (expediting) can be seen immediately
  • Exception management reporting or alerts
  • Problem resolution via pegging capabilities
  • Alignment of demand, material and capacity plans simultaneously versus sequentially
  • Improved decision making through real-time accurate visibility by tracking work orders, rejections, sales-orders and procurement
  • Reduced production downtime

Production Planning is where you plan material and capacity constraints effectively. What function should you be looking for within the Production Planning aspect of APS?

  • Finite and infinite capacity
  • Prioritized customer orders and forecast
  • Plan short/medium/long term in days/weeks/months
  • Graphical display end-to-end shop floor & order movement
  • Alternate resources (parts, sub-contractors, routings)
  • Flexibility through Build-Ahead to utilize available capacity
  • Simulation/what-if analysis
  • Tracking work orders/rejections/sales orders/procurement
  • Planning based on yields, planned maintenance, shop calendars
  • Resources may be simple (stand-alone), pooled (grouped) or subcontracted
  • Plan setups to minimize changeovers (light to dark colors)
  • Planning for planned or unscheduled plant maintenance
  • Plans based on calendars including shifts, breaks, holidays, etc.
  • Plans based on labor availability
  • Planning based on customer prioritization, strategic customers get preference
  • Planning based on different service levels by customer, market segment or product category
  • Automatically generates production and procurement orders
  • Demand pull philosophy to generate shop and purchase orders
  • Incremental planning of orders
  • Consolidation of orders
  • Time fence policies include firm, flexible and planning horizon
  • Automatic offloading to alternate resources or alternate routings
  • Gantt chart presentations

What features and function should you expect to find within the Shop Floor Scheduling module of APS?

  • Schedule resource-by-resource or order-by-order
  • Different scheduling strategies—minimize WIP or maximize resource utilization
  • Graphical display linking up- and down-stream operations
  • Modeling setup time based on sequencing
  • Locking schedules
  • Respect resources constraints; setup time, wait time, minimum queue time, working time, transfer batch quantity
  • Creating planed start and end times for all work orders
  • Gantt chart display of all orders
  • Drag and drop scheduled orders manually

What function and features should you look for in the Production Execution application within APS?

  • Recording status of orders
  • Recording quantity received or complete, rejected
  • Recording actual start and end times
  • Recording transfer of orders to inventory at order close out
  • Processing back flushing materials if appropriate

APS generally places a strain on an enterprise system if assets and operating data have not been loaded into the base system of record. Too often production relies on written documents or Excel to plan production. Sometimes this knowledge resides in the head of a planner and plant supervisors are restricted from taking corrective action, especially at 3:00 am when the planner is asleep because the ramifications of change cannot easily be determined. So if a job has to be scrapped, what is the impact of wasted capacity and materials? How quickly can the plant recover? All these questions are near impossible to answer in the absence of an effective, micro-managed APS planning and scheduling tool that is user friendly enough that production workers and supervisors can make sensible re-planning decisions.