Advanced Planning and Scheduling software is used to handle the large amounts of data required to make important decisions about allocating raw materials to production as well as the scheduling of plant equipment and other resources. It also allows manufacturing planners to optimize the utilization of plant and equipment, drawing on capacity definitions and product routing steps that include manufacturing lead times.
In a simple manufacturing environment, planning can often be done with a spreadsheet. As manufacturing complexity increases in terms of the number of products being produced that utilize similar machinery, the planning challenge exceeds the capability of spreadsheets. Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software can more easily coordinate all the variables to optimize equipment utilization and minimize manufacturing lead times.
There are some great APS systems on the market today, helping manufacturing companies meet their customer obligations and get the highest return on assets possible. But a word of caution…they require a substantial amount of information to make the right recommendations. For example, for each product that needs to be planned, an accurate manufacturing lead time must exist. For each piece of machinery, capacity definitions need to be entered. Working days/Holidays/length of work days need to be defined. Even a way of knowing that equipment is being taken offline for preventive maintenance must be available to the system so that proper recommendations for scheduling will result.