ISO 9001:2015, AS9100D & ISO 27001
Dassault Systèmes
official partner
MEMKO Head Office
L28 303 Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
Call Us

Beyond Spreadsheets: Why Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) is Essential for Modern Manufacturing

MEMKO > Knowledge Hub > Ortems > Beyond Spreadsheets: Why Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) is Essential for Modern Manufacturing

Excel is the de-facto tool for planning and scheduling. It’s accessible, easy-to-use and perceived as low cost. However, despite its overwhelming popularity when it comes to creating a production plan or optimal schedule, it falls short when dealing with the complexities of modern production environments. It can lead to hidden costs over time and become unsustainable to manage as business grows. In this article, I will focus on discussing the benefits of moving from Excel to an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system. 

The Case for Optimising Planning and Scheduling

According to market research, manufacturers are budgeting to invest in emerging technologies that will prioritise intelligent automation, mobile connectivity, IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The vision is to collect, store and analyse the data to make intelligent and automated decisions for their manufacturing, which they believe will translate to improved line efficiency, leading to greater profitability.  

However, I would argue that this is putting the cart before the horse. Since, without a digitised plan or schedule you have no digital record to compare the ‘planned vs actual’ to contextualise the performance of your system. Not to mention the huge implementation cost of a multi-system, multi-vendor project. In comparison, I would argue that by targeting improvements in your planning and scheduling you can achieve better ROI with reduced implementation risks with less complexity in implementation. 

What is Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS)?

Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software completes Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems by helping manufacturers make efficient production decisions around capacity and resource utilisation through a complete view of operations. APS optimises production planning and flow synchronisation by considering many constraints like resources, capacity, time and costs. Ultimately, APS solutions empower manufacturers to make informed operational decisions, boosting profitability, competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

Advanced Planning and Scheduling

Key Features of Advanced Planning and Scheduling

Visibility at its core is about being able to find the information you need faster, leading to greater operational efficiency and improved decision making. Advanced Planning and Scheduling solutions ensure the entire production plan or schedule is consolidated under the one application. Additionally, you can use the highly visual Gantt Chart specific views in conjunction with detailed search and filtering functions to quickly find the answers you need and spend more time performing value-added activities.  

Advanced Planning and Scheduling solutions offer scalability by using a database instead of a spreadsheet for its data storage infrastructure, allowing it to store vast amounts of data with significantly improved performance compared to Excel. Furthermore, you can conduct backups to ensure business continuity. Integrating new production lines, products, or equipment into your planning application is seamless, with automatic updates to your plan/schedule to accommodate these changes 
Advanced Planning and Scheduling solutions automate the refreshing of data by seamlessly integrating with your ERP system, allowing you to automatically refresh the data in your plan based on the latest demand without the need for manual data entry. Additionally, leveraging the rule-based optimisation engines you can automate tasks such as finite capacity planning, multi-BOM synchronisations and multi-constraint scheduling processes. 

Advanced Planning and Scheduling solutions use a configurable optimisation engine, empowering you to create, plan, or schedule, to optimise metrics like, minimising inventory, or maximising equipment utilisation, or meeting customer due dates. It achieves this by storing and understanding the constraints and details of your production such as customer delivery dates, change-over durations, set-up durations, inventory quantities and shelf-life. 

Advanced Planning and Scheduling solutions enable collaboration by consolidating the plan or schedule into a single application providing a unified view. They provide a workflow including role-based access restriction to suggest or commit changes to the plan, allowing multiple planners to simultaneously work on the same plan without causing discrepancies or working in silos. 

Moving into a New Manufacturing Age

Just as our design engineering software has evolved to deal with the increasing complexity of the systems and products of new-age engineering, we should also do the same with manufacturing. Fundamentally, the planning and scheduling process hasn’t changed since we moved from Physical Production Boards to Digital Production Boards in the form of spreadsheets. It is essential that modern manufacturers adopt new ways of optimising their manufacturing processes and streamlining production or else fear getting left behind. 

Advanced Planning and Scheduling

Thousands of customers around the world have ditched the spreadsheets and experienced the following benefits: 

  • Improved Service Level – On Time Delivery 
  • Reduced Lead time  
  • Reduced Inventories 
  • Improve Throughput 
  • Costs Saving (reduced subcontracting and overtime) 

Each business will have a different idea of what they want to get out of Advanced Planning and Scheduling and their choice of software solution will be centered around this. Implementing an APS requires strong data quality, strong organisational direction, and a desire to implement and use new systems. DELMIA Ortems is an industry leading tool in the space of Advanced Planning and Scheduling thanks to its values of visibility, scalability, automation, optimisation and collaboration, which stand in opposition to the limitations of Excel (funny how that works!). If you’d like to learn more about advanced planning and scheduling solutions you can get in touch to speak to a product expert or book in a demo session.

In the future, look for an article about lessons learned from implementing APS and assessing organisational readiness. 

Nicholas McKenzie

About the Author: Nicholas McKenzie

PLM Engineer

Nicholas McKenzie is a PLM engineer with expertise in Digital Manufacturing. He has experience working with A&D OEMs and suppliers in implementing and utilising industry 4.0 technologies ranging from Production System simulation, Advanced Planning and Scheduling tools and Engineered for Manufacturing Digital Thread.  

Discover Advance Planning and Scheduling Solutions

Delmia Ortems complements the Delmia portfolio by providing advanced manufacturing planning and scheduling capabilities. Ortems integrates with your ERP and adds the power of multi-constraint finite-capacity resource optimization, and synchronization of production flows – from raw materials through finished products. Ortems provides comprehensive digital continuity with data driven decision support.

production management ortems

Book in an APS Solution Demo

See how advanced planning and scheduling can be utilised in your business please get in touch