Production Planning and Scheduling for Manufacturers

What Is Production Planning and Scheduling?

production planning and scheduling

Production planning and scheduling is the supply chain management function that takes existing or forecasted purchase orders and optimizes the raw materials, work-in-process (WIP), inventories, machinery, and staffing resources to fulfill these goods while reducing costs.  Production planning and scheduling is also synonymous with advanced planning and scheduling (APS) and the process is managed with the help of an advanced planning and scheduling software system.

APS systems integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP systems), manufacturing resource planning (MRP systems), and manufacturing execution systems (MES) to level up the detailed scheduling and manufacturing planning functionality of these manufacturing information systems.  They enhance these production management systems and extending their functionality, enabling enterprise manufacturing companies to cope with the complexity of the modern production environment.

Difference Between Production Planning and Scheduling

Production planning and production scheduling in manufacturing are very similar, but they are not the same. The production plan sets out everything from the raw materials required to make the product, the processes involved, etc. Essentially, it is breaking down each step involved in making the product, and then organizing it into a logical sequence of events that will make the production run smoothly. It's the how and the what of production. You're looking at the product you want to create and thinking how do I get there, and what do I need?

Production scheduling, on the other hand, deals with the when. The production schedule takes all the steps that you have broken the production process into for your product and looks at when it is best to get it done. So your schedule will factor in time restraints based on customer orders, the number of resources and/or employees available on a given date, and then try to organize that in to a logical timeline that will result in a finished order on time. It takes the production plan and adds targets to it so that as a business owner you can reliably see whether you are on track, and if not, then you can start asking why.

Advantages of Production Planning and Scheduling Software

Implementing modern production planning and scheduling software allows enterprise manufacturers to:

  • Increase adherence to order due dates, ensuring on-time delivery of finished goods
  • Increase throughput
  • Improve machine utilization
  • Reduce time and resource-consuming changeovers
  • Reduce the time production planner and scheduler teams take to create plans
  • Generate feasible plans and schedules that minimize bottlenecks

In the past, it was difficult to realize these benefits because planning and scheduling were simply too complex for the available planning tools.  Many production planners are still suffering through manual scheduling in excel spreadsheets.

Thankfully, software is available to help you with this process. By using production planning and scheduling software with modeling and optimization capabilities, you are taking the pressure off yourself to ensure that the production runs completely smoothly. Rather than thinking of the how, the what, and the when, you can focus on the why.

As a manufacturing business, you should not have to be bogged down with creating complicated plans constantly, because how will you then be able to monitor progress effectively? If you have software that can create these complex plans for you in far less time, then you can head out onto the shop floor and be more involved in tracking the progress of the production line to ensure everything is running as it should, and if it isn't, you can investigate why that is and, more importantly, fix it.

There's also another key advantage too. Production planning and scheduling software don't think like you or me, and that's a great thing. We have a tendency as humans to focus on what we know, to repeat what we've learned. But the software doesn't.

It can look at everything you have available from a completely fresh, objective perspective, and then figure out what is best. It might challenge your old way of thinking about production planning and scheduling, but that's a good thing, especially if it leads to a smoother, more efficient manufacturing process. And the thing with production planning and scheduling software is that it always does.

Advanced Planning and Scheduling

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