We have an ERP, so do we need Advanced Planning and Scheduling Systems (APS) also?

Yes. We have an ERP that does Production Planning and Scheduling is a common answer. ERP has several shortcomings when it comes to detailed planning and scheduling. Here are the reasons why you need an Advanced Producing Planning and Scheduling (APS).

APSThe production planning and control (PPC) encompasses a series of activities starting from capacity planning, material requirements planning, detailed scheduling for shop floor execution and so on. It works to balance supplies of a manufacturing company versus demand for its products, while maximizing its performance keeping in view the company’s strength in terms of quality, cost and delivery. It plays a key role in the dynamic and competitive environments, responding quickly to achieve higher levels of performance, improved resource utilization and minimizing material losses.

With time, the workflow in production planning and control area in industry has undergone many changes. In this regard lot of companies have understood that commonly used systems, like MRP II and ERP, cannot suffice the planning while accounting the capacity of resources during the planning process. This implies that an APS system must be in place supplementing the ERP system to bridge the gap in evolving a refined, realistic and accurate planning and scheduling system.

Key functionalities APS will support that are not part of an ERP are

  • ERP relies on straight forward mathematical calculations whereas APS considers optimization taking into account multiple constraints like capacity, raw material availability, equipment time, change overs, availability of operators etc. which are way beyond the purview of any ERP
  • ERP considers capacities as Infinite, the APS systems consider that the capacities are Finite and works on priorities when it comes to the factors like materials, products, lead times and customers rather than looking at them in the same level. Works on facts rather than promises.
  • Often the companies face the challenge of order promising to the customers. ERP systems can successfully commit what is available to promise (ATP), based on the unutilized stocks or the work in process. Whereas an APS system can project an accurate picture of what can be supplied or the capability to promise (CTP).
  • Driven by highly competitive market situations, production executives are pushed to deliver products at the lowest possible costs without compromising customer satisfaction levels. ERP systems seem to have very limited capabilities in proposing a cost-effective plan. Here, the onus shifts to the tribal knowledge and the skills of the planner to choose the best one, as there will be different ways to handle the customer orders. On the contrary, APS systems can work out cost across multiple alternatives and arrive at the minimum cost plan within a very short duration, even though it involves innumerable number of permutations.
  • An advanced scheduler or finite-capacity scheduler can determine the earliest possible and latest possible schedule for each job at each work centre and then try different combinations and schedules until it finds the best fit overall. That best fit may be the lowest overall cost, highest work centre utilization, least amount of overtime, highest percentage of on-time completions, highest on-time percentage for preferred customers or products, fewest delays across the board, or some other measure of maximum value or minimum cost or penalty, as defined during the setup. This results in a more realistic plan or schedule that is more likely to come to fruition. It is also more likely to provide better information for customers, including more realistic lead times and promised completion dates, and can offer better resource utilization, lower costs and better customer service.
  • Current day planning has to quickly respond to dynamically situations and satisfy both internal and -external customers with queries like ‘why don’t – we...?’ or ‘What happens if we….?. Under such scenarios, ERP systems seem to have limited or no planning capabilities, whereas, an APS system fully support modelling ‘What-if ‘ scenarios very fast.

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