Better Planning and Scheduling for Manufacturers

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ERP, Aptean Made2Manage ERP, Aptean Encompix ERP, Manufacturing


I wear many hats – husband, dad, and believe it or not, chef. My family hosts a lot of guests on the weekend, so you can only imagine how hectic breakfast can be. We need to buy the right ingredients and then prepare food, and timing is important throughout the process.

Much like cooking breakfast for a large number of people, production planning and scheduling can be a challenge. In my experience, scheduling is one of the primary reasons why manufacturing companies invest in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. Oddly enough, though, it is one of the last modules that many implement. The tremendous amount of data necessary for accurate planning and scheduling often overwhelms manufacturers.

Let’s consider everything I need to know for breakfast:

  • How many people want to eat?
  • How much should I make for each person?
  • Do I have the ingredients I need? Will I need to go to the store?
  • When do we want to eat?

But before we start cooking:

  • Is the frying pan big enough for all the bacon? Is the griddle ready to go?
  • Do I have enough room on the stovetop?
  • How much time do I need to cook each dish?
  • In what order do I need to cook the dishes so they’re ready at the same time?
  • Will I need someone to flip the pancakes? Fry the bacon? Or can I do both?

Though the venue is very different, all of those questions about quantity, timing, sequence, equipment, and assistance apply on the shop floor, too. Planning and scheduling are two distinct manufacturing phases that work hand-in-hand. Planning – ensuring that production materials match job requirements – is more long-term. Scheduling – establishing the order of production and allowing enough time to produce by the given deadline – is usually near-term.

Many manufacturers still rely on manual workflows for planning and scheduling. Employees use whiteboards with magnets and post-it notes. Others manage in Excel and print out the necessary information. But handwritten notes need to be deciphered, and paper schedules can’t accommodate last-minute changes. These workarounds often result in lower productivity and costly overtime.

Many manufacturing companies want to move away from inefficient, time-consuming processes, but don’t yet have the necessary data inputs to effectively implement advanced planning and scheduling. To help solve that problem, Aptean Made2Manage and Aptean Encompix ERP include a core feature called Basic Scheduling.

Basic Scheduling allows the scheduler to manually drag and drop jobs within the system; in addition to the parent job, any necessary components or sublevels also adjust at the same time. Administrators can review the data to ensure accuracy. This feature gives companies an opportunity to review and document data inputs that might be “tribal knowledge” (much like I updated a recipe to capture the “secret ingredient” in my grandmother’s pancakes). As data is now being recorded in the ERP and can be shared with other departments, Basic Scheduling can help companies improve communications and break down information silos.

The Advanced Scheduling module can take your business to the next level. Fully automated finite scheduling algorithms allow managers to see how different jobs in various stages of production are consuming resources. It allows for “what if” scheduling, which helps companies adjust to unexpected situations. “Capable to Promise” uses real-time information into the current schedule, availability of materials and resources, and lead times to provide a more accurate delivery date for customers.

The Basic Scheduling feature in Aptean Made2Manage ERP and Aptean Encompix ERP offers a stepping stone from cumbersome manual processes to more advanced planning and scheduling. More efficient planning and scheduling increases productivity and prevents wasting resources, allowing you and your shop floor to move progressively from crawl to walk, then to run, and ultimately to soar.