Advanced planning and scheduling capability primes MESTEC solution for Industry 4.0

Advanced planning and scheduling capability primes MESTEC solution for Industry 4.0

The latest addition to MESTEC’s plant optimisation suite joins up several critical business processes to support factories aiming for 100% efficiency through smart manufacturing. Business outcomes include improved on-time delivery, better resource utilisation, greater capacity and higher profits.

There’s a familiar conversation that is repeated throughout factories up and down the UK. It sounds something like this…

Sales: “If I get this order, when can we deliver it?”

Operations: “Uh, yes – that’ll be an eight-week lead time…”

Of course, Operations has quoted one of several ‘standard’ delivery times based on a combination of guesswork and leaving some margin in the schedule, just in case the machine on the critical path isn’t available.

What if you could quote say three weeks lead time with the confidence to guarantee on-time delivery? Would that help your manufacturing business to compete and close orders?

Being in complete control of your manufacturing operations drives efficiency throughout the business, from creating customer demand to fulfilling it through production execution.

MESTEC has integrated advanced planning and scheduling (APS) into its manufacturing solution to improve on-time delivery, utilisation, capacity and profit – putting you back in control of your manufacturing operations.

Joining up critical business processes

To thrive in a competitive landscape, manufacturing businesses need to fulfil a number of core activities. These include generating customer demand; fulfilling that demand by assembling the resources, labour, material and plant required to manufacture the product; coordinating those resources to execute the production process; and finally, tracking progress by measuring and benchmarking certain metrics or key performance indicators.

Manufacturers that we talk to often struggle to link up these critical business processes, even when they have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in place. This is a problem because sharing accurate data between these tasks is key to delivering better on-time delivery, utilisation, capacity and profitability.

Adding value to ERP

While many manufacturers have already invested in an ERP system, they are more often than not looking for ways to enhance it with additional capabilities and functionality to help move their factories further towards 100% efficiency.

A lot of ERP vendors claim that their platforms perform planning and scheduling. In practice, they fall short of having the advanced capabilities required to create accurate production schedules. Inevitably, manufacturers that have invested in ERP fill this scheduling gap by using spreadsheets to plan, visualise and make sense of their production requirements.

The traditional ‘spreadsheet’ approach is overly complex, time consuming and error prone. Even when you hand over the responsibility to expert production planners, they still have the challenge of getting the right data into the spreadsheet, manipulating it to produce an optimal schedule based on resource availability and then circulating it so that everyone is working on the latest version. It’s often impracticable (just too much work) to perform any ‘what if’ analysis, or to optimise the schedule, and even a simple change to a constraint can create a lot of repeat analysis work.

Advanced planning and scheduling: the MESTEC’s difference

For effective shop floor planning and scheduling you need some key data and capabilities in place:

  • A realistic estimate of how long it takes to complete each task
  • Your current, real-time progress against a work-to list
  • An accurate model of all the constraints (for example, resources, materials) that affect when the factory can carry out different tasks
  • The ability to communicate the plan, clearly to everyone, from a single source of truth

By combining accurate shop floor data collection with advanced planning and scheduling, MESTEC now provides a single solution for predictable day-to-day scheduling, capacity planning what-if analysis and production execution. By bringing together the key data and capabilities it provides the perfect platform for optimising manufacturing operations.

MESTEC’s APS key features

MESTEC provides intelligent Gantt-based planning in and around delivery dates, materials, labour and any other resource constraints whilst allowing the planner some flexibility to determine the optimum schedule to meet customer deadlines. MESTEC communicates work-to lists to the factory floor touch-screens, ensuring that the whole factory is working to the same set of priorities. Dashboards in the factory provide visibility of adherence to schedule and early warning of where intervention is needed. The live progress of operations is recorded and the status fed directly back to the APS module, closing the loop between planning and execution and allowing the plan to be updated in response to real-time events.

Master data such as works orders, deadline dates, routings, BoMs and material availability typically come from integration with your ERP.

By using MESTEC APS, your planning team will be able to quickly and accurately assess the effects of implementing overtime, additional machine capacity and so on, enabling you to make decisions based on fact rather than guesswork.

Because MESTEC APS automates planning and scheduling, you will get an updated schedule as soon as you make changes to any constraint, without having to spend additional time manipulating or re-entering data.

MESTEC APS gives manufacturers the ability to take complex, real-life production scenarios with multiple variables and quickly see what they can achieve in terms of schedules. The user interface enables planners to simply ‘drag and drop’ jobs onto machines to run the schedule, while the system maintains an understanding of which machines are busy at any time. Unlike spreadsheets, MESTEC APS lets multiple users manage scheduling across multiple resources.

Proven benefits

By integrating MESTEC’s solution with its existing ERP system, Martin’s Rubber takes advantage of advanced planning and scheduling capabilities within a system that manages the whole shop floor experience, starting with accurate shop floor data collection (SFDC). Adam Hooper, Operations Director explains: “APS gives us visibility of all the jobs that we have in the system, including the time that those jobs should take and the resources they require in terms of machines and people. It juggles those various constraints and comes up with the most effective manufacturing sequence. MESTEC then sends work-to lists to operators’ portable tablets in this priority order at a work-centre level.

“When we re-schedule, which we do several times during the day, APS takes the next snapshot from the shop floor and updates the plan. The system lets us know where we are and what capacity we have to fit in further work during that day/week/month.

“As a result, capacity utilisation has gone up significantly. We have an easy way to communicate information back to the shop floor and if we see a production bottleneck or slippage in the plan, MESTEC gives us the means to investigate it and do something about it.

Smart manufacturing journey

Being in control of your manufacturing operations means moving away from a world where whoever shouts loudest gets priority, and where ops teams spend their time firefighting instead of planning.

With MESTEC’s integrated smart manufacturing, your conversations will begin to sound like this:

Sales: “If I get this order, when can we deliver it?”

Operations: “When does the customer need it?”

As well as predictable on-time delivery, MESTEC’s APS will enable:

  • One production schedule that everyone follows
  • A smooth handover process between shifts
  • Planners to produce robust, optimised work schedules
  • Improved visibility of your entire shop floor, giving you advanced warning of potential problems in meeting demand

Ready to find out more?

Please contact us as we would be delighted to discuss your manufacturing challenges and demonstrate how our rapid, low-risk solution could bring major cost savings and performance improvements to your business.

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