Five Things to Love about Advanced Planning & Scheduling Solutions

Five Things to Love about Advanced Planning & Scheduling Solutions

February brings Valentine’s Day, and while romance might not be top-of-mind for busy supply chain managers, there’s lots to love with Industry 4.0 technologies that streamline the manufacturing process. (A real plus for those 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates produced each year!)

Industry 4.0 solutions connect people, machines, sensors and devices in new ways, making it easier to track supply chain activity, generate optimal plans, and execute those plans. At the heart of these technologies are agile solutions for Advanced Planning & Scheduling that really deliver on efficiency and productivity savings.

Let us count the ways:

  1. A match made in heaven. Advanced Planning solutions use a variety of interconnected modules to look at the relationship between sales and production, plant capabilities, and the optimal schedule to maximize production efficiency. A sequencing workflow, for example, combines real and forecasted production orders and creates a balanced work plan. Detailed scheduling brings together the components needed to effectively manage the flow of a product through the production facility. And, sequencing solutions take each new and existing order a manufacturer receives creates a short-term (daily or weekly) pearl chain of orders to be produced 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, customer demand or other factors.

  2. Never having to say you’re sorry. Raw material shortages, staffing concerns and fluctuating volumes put pressure on day-to-day production planning…and that’s not including the typical daily challenges from aging equipment, manual process errors and siloed technologies. Agile planning processes can help production planners anticipate and respond in real-time to changing conditions. Thanks to digitalization, delayed raw material shipments and other bottlenecks can be identified in real-time, giving planners the ability to adjust production plans at any point to meet delivery schedules and avoid disruptions.

  3. It’s a date. Detailed scheduling modules allow planners to identify specific parameters, constraints and capabilities for every piece of equipment. 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 solution looks at the requirements for each order, compares it to the parameters, capabilities and constraints 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 in the right sequence, on the right machinery, at the right time and with the right resources.

  4. Head in the clouds. Cloud-based APS solutions can connect data from disparate sources, centralize it and allow supply chain managers to view real-time production and other data at any time, from any location. For example, cloud solutions can link the availability of personnel, material and tools, allowing planners to visualize the entire operation with one dashboard. This is especially important for manufacturers with multiple locations across different geographies or those with complex, decentralized organizations. Cloud applications are particularly adaptable because they are maintained by the solution provider. As new features and applications are introduced, software can be automatically upgraded without disrupting current operations.

  5. Happy together. APS solutions in the cloud let supply chain planners manage computing capacity in a dynamic way. Even better are the solutions that interwork easily with MES and ERP systems. The ability to integrate with Microsoft Azure, AWS or popular suppliers of cloud services can also result in fast, simple, and scalable implementation across the organization.

When it comes to manufacturing and Advanced Planning & Scheduling technologies, the consensus is they’re better together. What’s not to love?

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