APS and the New Ways of Working

APS and the New Ways of Working

There’s no doubt that automation is changing the manufacturing workplace. High-risk tasks that involve exposure to potentially dangerous materials, physically demanding activities or other hazards can more easily—and safely—be performed by automated machinery and equipment.

But Industry 4.0 technologies are taking things a step further by transforming manual, repetitive work and a myriad of disconnected data into a more rewarding work experience on the plant floor. “Industry 4.0 is transforming how factory employees work, collaborate, and serve their customers,” according to Forbes. “Digital transformation has actually ended up empowering on-the-ground employees in ways that weren’t possible before.”

This is especially true with Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) technologies that help to consider factors like plant occupancy, changeover operations and process times in production planning. APS solutions use a variety of interconnected modules to look at the relationship between sales and production, plant capabilities, and the optimal schedule. With them, production planners, supply chain managers, quality leaders, site managers and others can more easily track supply chain activity, generate optimal plans, and execute those plans.

Order Slotting & Scheduling

Let’s start at the beginning of the planning and scheduling process to see how APS is changing plant roles for the better. Once the sales team produces an order, a series of questions need to be answered, such as what parts are needed to produce the product? Are the materials available now or do they need to be ordered? How long will it take to get materials that aren’t in stock? When does the customer need the product?

In principle, Order Slotting finds the optimum between flexibility for sales and sufficient production continuity. It establishes a capacity-oriented production program for the midterm horizon and an early detection of errors (e.g., capacitive over-/ underload, delay of deliveries) allowing to take proactive and preventive measures.

Before digital APS solutions, planners needed to consult a variety of sources, such as spreadsheets, inventory logs, and even suppliers to get the information required for order slotting. Large orders with a variety of production lead times and varying parts availability were complicating factors.

In a digitalized manufacturing environment, however, APS solutions provide automated information about workflow including the order center, the sales view, and the production view. The software also allows the production planner to access real-time data showing the current inventory of raw materials, parts and other resources. An order slotting workflow takes a combination of real and forecasted production orders and takes into account the raw materials, parts, components and other resources needed to manufacture each product.  Time typically spent pulling together data and information from disparate sources is put to better use in analyzing options. What used to take hours to distill can now be performed in minutes. And, rescheduling decisions can be made on-the-fly.

Detailed scheduling

Another way in which digitalization is empowering employees on the plant floor is through greater visibility into previously siloed operations. APS detailed scheduling dashboards allow plant leadership to see the full picture across the entire organization. The Software generates optimized throughput schedules for each batch by effectively balancing pre-products and products throughout batch production, considering factors like plant occupancy, changeover operations, and process times. These planning tasks would be very time consuming and complex for human planners and they would not be able to react fast and flexible without powerful digital tools when changes occur.

Maintenance managers, for example, can compare their planned maintenance (PM) schedules to actual performance and optimize their PM schedules accordingly. Digitalization tools can also work seamlessly with production planning to flex production to other lines (or even facilities) to accommodate machine downtime. Effective PM programs can help can proactively prevent breakdowns, plan real-time maintenance schedules based on data and analytics and keep costs in line—all while maintaining production schedules.

Order Sequencing

Digital APS solutions with order sequencing functionality allow plant personnel to move from managing day-to-day production to proactively identifying ways to optimize operations. Take, for example, a global manufacturing organization with multiple locations and products. Creating optimized production sequences that consider varying production lead times, facility capacity restrictions, customer deadlines and plant workloads would be nearly impossible without Industry 4.0 technologies.

The flexis Order Sequencing Solution forms optimized sequences on the assembly line, by following the consistent pearl chain concept to optimize efficiency resulting in an uniform distribution of assembly work. Sequencing solutions can therefore help planners generate an optimized, digital sequence from a pool of existing orders. For each operation, the system displays which production order is planned at each work center and the standard values used to determine the dates or the workload. Production planners can then visualize a real-time view of the best possible sequence, taking into consideration all assembly and procurement restrictions. When a rush order from an important client comes in, planners can simply adjust production plans to reflect changes in incoming orders. As a result, the planner is able to manage complex processes better than ever before, in a standardized way that reliably meets production targets.

While much of the focus of Industry 4.0 technologies is on tools that improve efficiency and productivity, the positive impact on plant roles and responsibilities can’t be underestimated. APS solutions have the ability to transform ways of working in a manufacturing setting, empowering employees to do their best work and move the organization forward.

If you want to learn more get your Guide to Production Planning

In this Guide you will learn:

  1. How to build resilience

  2. How to increase efficiency

  3. How to use integrated APS planning services for production planning

  4. What must-have features of an APS solution you need

  5. Which KPI’s you can expect