Advanced Planning, APS, FCS, S&OP

Among the most popular software planning technologies is Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS). This is a type of software solution that sets out to ensure production capacity and the materials required for manufacture are optimally sourced and allocated to satisfy demand. Other related tools include Finite Capacity Scheduling. This approach sets out to understanding how much production capacity is possible within a specified timeframe. The aim is to manage workflow at an even and efficient pace throughout the production process. Finite scheduling tools differ from infinite capacity scheduling tools in that the latter are in the main more simple and unable to account for system issues/constraints that happen in real time.


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Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS).

Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) refers to a manufacturing management process by which raw materials and production capacity are optimally allocated to meet demand. In manufacturing, the purpose of scheduling is to minimize the production time and costs by improving the efficiency of the operation. Scheduling is an important tool for manufacturing as it can have a major impact on the productivity of a process.

APS is especially well-suited to environments where simpler planning methods cannot adequately address complex trade-offs between competing priorities. Traditional planning and scheduling systems utilise a stepwise procedure to allocate material and production capacity. This approach is simple but cumbersome, and does not readily adapt to changes in demand, resource capacity or material availability. Materials and capacity are planned separately, and many systems do not consider limited material availability or capacity constraints. Thus, this approach often results in plans that cannot be executed.   Production scheduling tools greatly outperform older manual scheduling methods.

These provide the production scheduler with powerful graphical interfaces which can be used to visually optimize real-time work-loads in various stages of production, and pattern recognition allows the software to automatically create scheduling opportunities which might not be apparent without this view into the data. Companies use backward and forward scheduling to allocate plant and machinery resources, plan human resources, plan production processes and purchase materials. Forward scheduling is planning the tasks from the date resources become available to determine the shipping date or the due date.

Backward scheduling is planning the tasks from the due date or required-by date to determine the start date and/or any changes in capacity required. Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) provides an updated forecast that leads to a sales plan, production plan, inventory plan, customer lead time (backlog) plan, new product development plan, strategic initiative plan and resulting financial plan. Variations in frequency of the plan depend on the type of manufacturing industry. Short product life cycles and high demand volatility require a tighter S&OP planning than steadily consumed products.

A properly implemented S&OP process routinely reviews customer demand and supply resources and “re-plans” quantitatively across an agreed rolling horizon. The re-planning process focuses on changes from the previously agreed sales and operations plan. While it helps the management team to understand how the company achieved its current level of performance, its primary focus is on future actions and anticipated results.

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