APS (advanced planning and scheduling) is an advanced manufacturing management system that allocates raw materials and production capacity optimally in order to balance demand and capacity constraints. It represents a revolution compared to traditional planning systems, most notably MRP (manufacturing resource planning), which is also the grandfather of ERP.
As such, APS is well-suited for complex manufacturing environments, including:
- MTO (made-to-order), ETO (engineer-to-order)
- Production of highly engineered products that consists of many components
- Production of multiple products within one factory
- Frequently changed schedules and requirements
Managing real-world constraints
While legacy ERP focuses on managing resources, APS focuses on managing constraints. APS can realistically simulate your throughput by taking into account bottlenecks in your supply chain and manufacturing process. The result is much more feasible plans that can be executed.
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Typical real-world constraints that an effective APS system can handle are:
- Specialised skills and tools: if there are a limited number of workers whose skills are essential to certain tasks or if there are just a few specialised tools, APS will recognise such limitations when planning production.
- Availability of raw materials: APS considers what materials are actually available today, not what are promised to be delivered in the future.
- The overall capacity of manpower and machines: APS seeks to optimise your whole production process rather than separate phases.
- Production sequence: an effective APS system should be able to identify the optimal sequence in order to cut down changeover time.
In older approaches, multiple steps are performed separately and then pieced together. For instance, material requirements, constraints, and capacity are planned in isolation. And in many cases, constraints planning is omitted altogether. Conversely, APS is capable of combining all these processes into one single source of truth.
Global optimisation & collaboration
An APS system seeks optimised solutions to the entire demand and supply chains rather than to individual processes and sub-processes. It also provides frameworks for collaborating with vendors and customers. When information is exchanged on a planning level across multiple systems, both inside and outside your business, you are one step closer to true global optimisation.
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Primary benefits of APS
1. Keeping promises to customers
APS makes realistic plans based on real-world constraints and capacity that can actually be executed. Unprecedented capabilities such as backward and forward scheduling, varying lead times give APS significant advantages over legacy planning and scheduling systems.
2. Faster planning
APS allows manufacturers to plan from a single source of truth across all systems. Advanced APS systems employ powerful mathematical algorithms to make intelligent decisions quickly.
3. Rapid response to changing demand
When you have new orders on top of existing ones, or when the delivery date of a high-priority order is changed, APS can quickly come up with all possible alternatives and choose the most optimal ones.
For advanced manufacturers who need end-to-end integrated processes, APS should be a key “must-have” functionality in their ERP requirements.
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