Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software (APS)

Advanced Planning and Scheduling software (APS) is often a core module within many larger ERP business applications, but sometimes, manufacturers require specialized APS software to manage their specific business needs. This article highlights the embedded APS capabilities within the four ERP products available from e2b teknologies (Epicor ERP, Sage ERP X3, Sage 100 ERP, and Sage 500 ERP) with an overview of third party solutions available for advanced or specialized APS capabilities. It also provides a summary of some of the major features and benefits of implementing APS software.
Epicor moved us away from constrained scheduling methods and towards a robust forecasting and scheduling process that suite both day-today and long-range business needs.”

-Howe Corporation-
There are several advantages of having a solid advanced planning and scheduling software product integrated with your ERP business, such as:

  • Maximize machine schedules
  • Implement lean manufacturing methodologies on your shop floor
  • Utilize just-in-time purchasing for required materials
  • Schedule against finite tooling availability
  • Minimize machine setup and resetup by scheduling similar work orders together
  • Scheduling products consecutively based on color to minimize die cleaning.
  • Managing labor resources so you have the right people available for the job at hand.

Epicor ERP is our flagship product for discrete manufacturing industries and offers a world-class APS software with integrated preventative maintenance management designed for companies in a variety of industries including automotive, industrial, high tech and electronics, capital equipment, medical device, and more. APS is tightly integrated to material requirements planning (MRP) with multi-level capable to promise features from sales order entry.

Companies like Symmetry Medical, Howe Corporation, Chirch Global Manufacturing, Epicor ERP’s APS system is truly top-notch and better than most best of breed solutions with the added benefit of being 100% embedded in material planning, preventative maintenance, engineering change management, and sales order processes providing a 360 degree view of your business as it relates to production scheduling.
“Our instrument division is 40% of our business, with an average lot size of 34 units, so it is a very complex manufacturing scheduling environment… we really look to Epicor to help us with advanced scheduling.”

– Symmetry Medical-

Some of the major features available in enterprise class APS software include:

  • Finite and/or infinite scheduling of resources
  • Scheduling for multiple resource constraints – machine, tooling, and labor
  • Preventative maintenance schedules
  • Drag-and-drop schedule boards
  • Automated schedule generation based on rules
  • APS integration with sales order entry for capable to promise (CTP) calculations so you know what quantity will be available when or when a specified quantity of product will be available.
  • Scheduling overlapping operations
  • Scheduling queue times (drying, cooling, curing times)
  • Move time schedules between operations, facilities, or outside processors
  • Ability to lock operations on the schedule and regenerate prior and upstream operations around the locked operation on the schedule board.
  • Labor schedules for shop floor employees with real-time start job and stop job entry integrated with production costing and human resources.
  • Lean scheduling techniques such as drum-buffer-rope (DBR) and cellular manufacturing schedules.
  • Integration with demand forecasting to evaluate resource constraints based on both actual and forecasted demand for finished goods and subassemblies.
  • Schedule alerts when material, labor, or tooling are not available, when machines are down for planned or unplanned maintenance, and when jobs are falling behind schedule.
  • Scheduling dependent work orders where subassembly work orders must be completed prior to work orders for multi-level finished goods.
  • What-if analysis for strategic planning based on demand forecasts, resource plans, etc. to identify capital investments needed to support long-term goals.
  • Work Order prioritization whereby higher priority work orders are given preference by the APS rules engine.
  • Integration with the Engineering Change Order (ECO) process to ensure that manufacturing schedules are based on the current, approved manufacturing labor instructions.
  • Forward scheduling from an available start date or backward scheduling from a customer or material requirement date.
  • Change Impact Analysis whereby changes made to existing schedules can be evaluated in real time to see what work orders and resources are impacted by the potential changes.
  • Multi-plant communication and scheduling integration.
  • Scheduling for co-products and by-products
  • Integration with shop floor machinery and equipment for automated data capture during the production process with updates to production schedules and work orders.
  • Ability to utilize APS in a Kanban pull-system environment.

Sage ERP X3 is another core ERP solution available from e2b teknologies. Unlike Epicor, Sage ERP X3 does not provide “native” APS features. However, a number of third party products are available with deep integration to the ERP system providing similar features as those found in Epicor’s APS module.

Demand forecasts for Sage ERP X3 are provided by Demand Planning and traditional APS scheduling is available from the endorsed APS solution provider, Preactor APS 400 which is by far one of the best options available on the market for best-of-breed APS.

Sage 500 ERP includes a module called Advanced Planning & Scheduling which has some nice features to schedule work order steps. It is integrated with the Sage 500 ERP Material Requirements Planning (MRP) module and has some basic capable to promise (CTP) features as well. The APS software within Sage 500 ERP is good for most manufacturers with basic needs but does have some limitations. Companies using Sage 500 ERP that require more advanced APS software should consider Preactor and Planet Together – the two leading third party APS solutions available for Sage 500 ERP. A brochure is available with more information or you may want to watch our overview video here.

Sage 100 ERP is a nice solution for smaller and less sophisticated manufacturers. However, there are only a few very basic APS capabilities available within Sage 100 ERP such as work order schedule reports. Preactor is also available as an integrated APS solution for Sage 100 ERP customers that need a more sophisticated scheduling and resource management application. Galaxy APS by Planet Together is an alternative third party APS solution available for both Sage 100 ERP as well as Epicor and Sage ERP X3.

You may be using other APS solutions already and considering a change to Sage ERP X3, Epicor ERP, or Sage 100 ERP. If you love your advanced planning and scheduling software solution then you may not have to throw it out when you replace your core business software. e2b teknologies specializes in business software integration and can work with you to integrate your favorite APS software with any of the ERP products we represent. Contact us today for more information.

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