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What is Advanced Production Scheduling (APS)?


Advanced production scheduling increases output and reuces waste.

What is Advanced Production Scheduling (APS)?

Did you know that operation inefficiencies could cost your manufacturing business between 20% and 30% of its revenue each year? This statistic is especially profound in the manufacturing industry, where companies look  frequently looking for new ways to increase output, reduce waste, and consistentlyand, ultimately, consistently produce a high-quality product using as few inputs as possible. 

A high level of operational efficiency is also the key to maintaining a competitive edge and remaining resilient in the face of supply chain disruption, inflation, geopolitical tension, and economic headwinds. If you’re interested in minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency, Advanced Production Scheduling (APS) could be transformational for your operations.

“Where Are My Manufacturing Inefficiencies Hiding?”

Inefficiencies come in many forms but one of the easiest to tackle, and most overlooked, is hiding on your factory floor. We’re talking about waste, a natural byproduct of most manufacturing processes that’s easy to minimize with the Fuuz MES Platform’s production scheduling capabilities. 

Most manufacturers use capacity planning to organize and schedule production across different departments involved in resource utilization, but you also need to use the right type of production scheduling to get the job done as efficiently as possible. You’re probably familiar with finite and infinite scheduling — also known as forward and backward scheduling — and may have even heard of a newer, digitized option known as Advanced Production Scheduling. 

Fuuz supports all three, giving you the flexibility to choose the best type of production scheduling for your unique operations. Our solution accommodates different rules that make it easy to dynamically reprioritize and move jobs. You also have several ways to do it, depending on what feels best for your team. 

In this article, we’ll discuss different types of scheduling available on the Fuuz MES Platform and how you can use each to maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and take control of your factory floor.

APS: Why It’s Being Called the Next Generation of Finite/Infinite Scheduling

APS is an integrated and sophisticated approach to production scheduling within MES that extends past the capabilities of finite and infinite scheduling. It does this by extending the principles of finite scheduling with a broader range of resources and constraints, including attributes such as color, size, and other relevant factors. 

APS helps determine optimal production schedules that minimize setup changeover times and lead times across various manufacturing processes. APS does not operate on an open-ended timeframe. APS usually uses a Today + X Number of Days model that is no greater than two weeks from the start date of work order steps.

Due to the complexities and intricacies of APS, it is typically implemented after finite scheduling has been deployed successfully. The workflow designs required to properly carry out APS are extensive and complex. Most commercial software packages that offer APS are typically hard coded to only allow certain factors to be included.

Advancing Planning and Scheduling Quick Facts

We do things differently here at Fuuz. We can be very detailed based on the end-user requirements, but it does take time to properly develop rules that the machine can interpret. Eliminating the human in the initial decision-making process of the APS engine is extremely challenging, but our experts specialize in these types of functions. Here are some at-a-glance facts about this tool:

  • Definition of Advancing Planning and Scheduling, also known as Advanced Production Scheduling:
    APS is a digital solution that helps manufacturers manage production planning and shop floor scheduling. Key concepts and characteristics of APS include:
    • Resource Diversity: APS considers a wide array of resources, including machines, labor, materials, tools, and equipment, each with distinct capabilities, capacities, and attributes.
    • Attribute-Based Scheduling: APS takes into account product attributes, such as color, size, or material type, which impact production setups and processing requirements. This allows for more accurate and specialized scheduling based on product characteristics.
    • Constraint Management: APS handles multiple types of constraints, including resource capacity, tool availability, material availability, and attribute-specific constraints. It ensures that schedules adhere to these limitations while optimizing production efficiency.
    • Optimization Algorithms: Advanced algorithms and optimization techniques are used to generate schedules that reduce setup changeover times, minimize production lead times, and improve overall resource utilization. 
    • Setup Reduction: APS aims to minimize changeover times between different product attributes or variants by intelligently sequencing production orders and grouping similar jobs to reduce transitions and setup activities.
    • Attribute Compatibility: The system considers the compatibility of attributes when scheduling production runs, ensuring that attributes align with available resources and machines. 
    • Scenario Analysis: Planners can perform scenario analysis to assess the impact of attribute-specific changes, resource availability, or demand fluctuations, enabling data-driven decision-making. 
    • Visualization Tools: APS often provides intuitive visual representations of schedules, allowing users to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks, and adjust as needed.

APS within MES is a powerful tool that goes beyond traditional finite scheduling by considering a broader range of resources and attributes. It optimizes production schedules to reduce setup changeover times, minimize lead times, and enhance overall manufacturing efficiency, especially in industries where product variations and attributes significantly impact production processes.

Fuuz Tools Used: Workcenters | Calendars | Gantts | Custom Schema | Custom Flows | Resources & Resource Calendars*

* APS is an optional Fuuz module available per workcenter. It includes additional resources/constraints and extra schema for product, process, and workcenter attributes.

Infinite Scheduling: A Dynamic, Continuous Approach

Infinite scheduling, also known as forward scheduling, is a dynamic and continuous approach to production scheduling within the realm of manufacturing. It involves creating and adjusting schedules in real -time, and considering various factors such as:

  • Machine availability
  • Resource constraints
  • Changing priorities by z human interfacing with Fuuz

Infinite Scheduling Quick Facts

Infinite scheduling is a powerful scheduling methodology that helps manufacturers enhance operational agility, improve resource utilization, and meet customer requirements in a dynamic and ever-changing production environment. Here are some at-a-glance facts about this tool.

  • Definition of Infinite Scheduling: The term “infinite” in infinite scheduling signifies that it continuously re-evaluates and adapts schedules based on evolving conditions, without fixed time horizons. Key characteristics include:
    • Real-Time Adjustments: Schedules are updated as new information becomes available, allowing for rapid responses to changes in production orders, materials, or equipment status.
    • Dynamic Prioritization: Production orders are prioritized based on various factors, such as customer due dates, order sizes, material availability, and production capacity.
    • Resource Optimization: The scheduling system optimizes the allocation of resources, including machines, labor, and materials, to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime.
    • Flexibility: It accommodates disruptions and unexpected events, such as machine breakdowns or rush orders, by adjusting schedules accordingly. 
    • Continuous Monitoring: The system constantly monitors the progress of each production order and adjusts schedules to ensure that work is completed on time.
    •  Reduced Lead Times: Infinite scheduling aims to minimize lead times, allowing manufacturers to respond quickly to changing market demands.

Fuuz Tools Used: Calendar | Work Order Status – Manual Updates via Work Order

Finite Scheduling: A Structured Approach to Finite Resources

Finite scheduling is a scheduling approach used within (MES) that focuses on precise planning and scheduling of production activities based on the availability of limited resources and time constraints. With finite scheduling, the objective is to allocate resources efficiently to ensure that production orders are completed on time while considering various constraints, such as machine capacity, labor availability, and material availability. 

Unlike infinite scheduling, finite scheduling typically works within fixed-time horizons. Finite scheduling typically is applied to Today + X Number of Days. This figure does not typically exceed two production weeks. Work orders that are created with due/start dates beyond the finite window are not considered in the scheduling process. They are available for reference or visibility, but the scheduling process will only assign work orders within the established time window to dispatch lists.

Finite Scheduling Quick Facts

Finite scheduling is usually a phase two activity, as many manufacturers do not have accurate enough data (beforeprior to implementing a real MES) to make this functional for them off the bat. Here are some at-a-glance facts about this tool.

  • Definition of Finite Scheduling: Finite scheduling in MES is a structured approach to production planning and scheduling that accounts for resource and time limitations. It helps manufacturers optimize resource utilization, meet production deadlines, and ensure efficient production operations. Key characteristics include:
    • Resource Constraints: Finite scheduling takes into account the finite nature of resources, such as machines, tools, labor, and materials. It ensures that these resources are allocated optimally to meet production goals.
    • Time Constraints: Schedules are created with specific timeframes in mind, aiming to complete production orders by their due dates or within predefined time limits.
    • Detailed Planning: It involves detailed planning of production sequences, specifying the start and end times for each operation, and sequencing tasks based on dependencies and setup times.
    • Realistic Planning: The system considers the practical aspects of production, including machine changeovers, material availability, and shift schedules.
    • Capacity Management: Capacity constraints are closely monitored, and the scheduling system helps prevent the overloading of resources.

It is common when working with finite scheduling for the system to generate production schedules that are not attainable due to improper data or production bottlenecks that prevent work from being completed in a timely fashion. Finite will not fix these issues but it will make them more visible. 

It should also be noted that material availability should not be a concern for manufacturers by the time they embrace finite scheduling because their enterprise resource planning (ERP) or material requirements planning (MRP) product should release work orders based on those constraints already being validated. Finite in MES typically evaluates workcenter capacity and material availability (date based).

Fuuz Tools Used: Workcenter Calendar | Workcenter Scheduling Method | Start or Due Date on Work Order Creation (does not work on update)

Plan Smarter, Not Harder, with Fuuz MES Production Scheduling

Change is constant in manufacturing, and you need a software solution that’s just as dynamic as your factory floor. Few, if any, of the other solutions on the market support both infinite and finite scheduling, much less APS. Here at Fuuz, we’re proud to support all three and make it easy to choose the right fit for your operations. 

Advanced scheduling capabilities are just one of the many ways we can help you take control of your factory floor. Explore the Fuuz MES Platform and get in touch with our team to learn more.