It’s pretty amazing how technology has driven efficiency, even in our personal lives. Ten years ago, few would have thought that they’d be able to play and pause a TV show, place an Amazon order, and send a text to a friend all with only their voice. When the mobile phone first came out, who could have imagined that in just two short decades, the device would have access for voice, video, and text to individuals around the world, not to mention games, cameras, banking, and endless videos of cats riding automatic vacuums?

Technology-driven efficiency has been equally important in driving improvement in the manufacturing environment, streamlining every stage in the production process and answering four simple—yet vital—questions: What do I make? What do I buy? When do I buy? When do I make?

The Two Big Acronyms

Two of the biggest manufacturing planning software types are manufacturing resource planning software (MRP) and advanced planning and scheduling software (APS). These two solutions might sound similar in name, but they have different capabilities and use cases. Understanding these two solutions is important to finding and implementing the right one for your business.

MRP Systems: The Steady Application

Originally conceived in the mid-1960s, MRP software is one of the oldest applications in manufacturing software. It is capable of automating multiple key planning functions, including inventor control and production forecasting. Users can also access some level of production insight for every step of manufacturing.

MRP is a “cradle to grave” application, covering every step from product conception to inventory control, production forecasting, and planning. Once a product is designed, an MRP system can plan and source the parts required to complete the job. Key steps that are automated include:

  • Determining on-hand inventory
  • Identifying materials to procure
  • Lead time vs. production time comparison for part ordering
  • Production forecast creation for estimating total project time

MRP planning and sourcing is perfect for manufacturers that create high volumes of similar products or have a very limited product line. But in a world that is constantly demanding more and more customization, an MRP will struggle to plan production on frequently changing order quantities or variations of most sorts.

APS: Augment or Stand Alone

Fortunately, that’s where APS comes in. Advanced planning and scheduling software picks up where MRP drops the ball by creating a more realistic production schedule, accounting for how and when to produce within capacity limitations. Indeed, many APS’ are not created to replace MRP, but instead to augment its capabilities. Adding APS to your MRP means that you can now:

  • Factor in real-time production limitations
  • Model multiple production scenarios for more accurate planning projections
  • Account for lead times of ordered parts
  • Prioritize jobs by profitability level

The true beauty of APS is in the way it plans capacity. Using finite capacity models, APS will set each manufacturing job into the schedule in a pattern that optimizes each work center. Instead of creating schedules based on standard lead times, APS draws up schedules around the reality of the actual load. This improves efficiency over just the MRP, which must plan and re-plan and re-plan again in order to achieve similar results. Companies with complex processes, multiple changes within normal lead times, or capacity issues will benefit greatly from APS’ ability to create realistic and achievable schedules and plans.

As stated above, for organizations with limited product lines or those who create large volumes of very similar products, adding or moving to an APS likely won’t garner much improvement over current processes. But those looking to improve on-time completions, efficiency, and utilization while reducing or even eliminating overtime, APS might be the miracle they’ve needed.

APS and Acumatica

Software designers are starting to take notice of this, and updates such as Acumatica 2019 R1 are cropping up in the marketplace. Released in mid-March, Acumatica 2019 R1 includes a host of new features and usability enhancements, including augmented APS capabilities. Added to the product line capability in 2018, APS is ready to make a bigger splash with 2019 R1.

Ready to find out how these engineering change control and finite capacity planning enhancements make 2019 R1 the Acumatica version to be on? The team of experts at Accounting Software Incorporated is ready to start building a partnership with your business. Whether you need MRP, an APS addition, or an APS replacement, ASI has the expertise and tools you need to get ahead and stay ahead of the curve. We excel in creating custom software solutions for improved productivity and profitability. If it’s time to get APS added to your manufacturing software, please contact us.