Three APS Components That Can Optimize Production Planning

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It’s a scene being played out daily in manufacturing organizations across the globe: Production planners juggling the latest data from sales, procurement, the plant floor and shipping to weave together the optimal production plan…only to have the parameters change a few hours later when crucial parts or materials are backordered.

With Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) solutions, planners don’t need to fear last-minute disruptions. APS helps create a planning environment in which the right resources can be applied to the right orders at the right time. Instead of using spreadsheets and guesswork, planners are able to match daily, weekly and monthly throughput more closely to real demand by analyzing various planning possibilities across multiple touchpoints.

APS solutions that use a variety of interconnected modules can look at the relationship between sales and production (Order Slotting & Scheduling), plant capabilities (Detailed or Job Shop Scheduling), and the optimal schedule to maximize production efficiency (Sequencing).

In this article, we’ll discuss the way these modules work together.

Order Slotting and Scheduling

In a digitalized manufacturing environment, APS solutions allow production planners 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 creates monthly buckets of orders to be produced in an balanced work plan. The Order Slotting and Scheduling solution then compares total material needs to real-time information about parts availability and constraints, to help manage both the ordering of materials and inventory management in an optimal way.

As real orders come in and forecasted orders change, the new needs are compared with the organization’s existing stock and orders in a dynamic way, so parts shortages or disruptions caused by large, unexpected orders can be avoided.

Detailed Scheduling

Detailed Scheduling brings together the components needed to effectively manage the flow of a product through a production facility. Agile planning solutions allow planners to identify specific parameters, constraints and capabilities for every piece of equipment. The parameters provide a “roadmap” for the automated tool to follow as it searches for the optimal “path” for each product. Parts requirements, line speed, run rates and other factors can all be comprehended in the system, as well as scheduled downtime for planned maintenance or upcoming holidays that will impact staffing levels.

Once orders are received, the automated Detailed Scheduling solution looks at the requirements for each order, compares it to the parameters, capabilities and constraints, e.g., sequence of production steps, working shifts, etc., for each piece of equipment in the process—as well as the requirements for other orders in the pipeline—and ensures that jobs are scheduled on the right machinery, at the right time and with the right resources.


Sequencing solutions can help planners generate an optimized pearl chain of weekly or daily buckets from a pool of existing orders—allowing for alterations to the order of production based on new rules or constraints. Each new and existing order a manufacturer receives is transferred into the sequencing program for a holistic view of the overall order pool. Planners can then view all production orders and their attributes, adding and removing orders due to changes in production requirements.

Sequencing solutions can be used to apply the principles of just in time delivery to factory floor operations. Rather than ordering the entire bill of materials for a particular product all at once, orders can be sequenced to make sure any component part that goes into a final product reaches the production facility only when it is needed. Planners and schedulers can also create detailed models before implementing a sequencing strategy. This allows planners to review and analyze data in advance before selecting the optimal solution.

Overall, sequencing technologies create an even distribution of assembly tasks and assembly times to combat disruptions in production and delivery. 

Accurate production planning is essential to maximize the efficiency and value of the supply chain. Combining the Order Slotting and Sequencing modules of an APS solution will give manufacturers the most agility in planning and allow them to optimize their plans in a holistic, continuous way. With the right APS solution, production planners can make the most accurate decisions, replan if necessary, evaluate scenarios, level production orders and thus improve the bottom line.