In the challenge series, we delve into the most common challenges facing manufacturers today and how they can be solved. The second challenge:
How to move away from manual, excel based scheduling? What are the benefits of implementing an MES, APS or MRP solution instead?
The manufacturing challenge
Having used excel spreadsheets for years to plan production, along with a whiteboard on the shop-floor and a paper-based order system, the manufacturing company is struggling with time consuming processes, the costs of maintaining a paper-based system and the constant fire-fighting as human errors occur almost daily, throwing the production schedule intro disarray.
Recognising the need for digitalisation and justifying the ROI in implementing manufacturing technology is the first step for a manufacturer to take. This can be done by calculating the recurring savings a company would make on simply not having to buy paper anymore, the time (and hence money) saved by using an online planning tool rather than spending hours on excel and the digital footprint of a manufacturing system, providing one version of the truth for all employees to work from, online, updated in real-time and therefore reducing the chances of human-error.
An MES solution equips a manufacturer with the tools to plan online, create a production schedule that the whole team is working from and provide visibility into weeks/ months production capacity moving forward. The level of data visibility and user-friendly analytics received through an MES solution would be near impossible to achieve through excel spreadsheets alone.
By using an MES solution to achieve effective scheduling a manufacturer can maximise the loading of resources and achieve higher levels of order fulfilment.
With an online planning tool, one that includes features such as a graphical planning board, manufacturers are able to view their plan in minute by minute detail as well as zooming out to see the schedule months in advance. This type of visibility and flexibility would be very difficult to achieve in excel. The online plan also fosters greater plan adherence, as everyone is working to the same online plan with interactive job lists dispatched to the shop floor for easy execution. This dynamic plan is also integrated with the company’s ERP solution (such as Acumatica, SAP Business One, SAGE X3 or ECi Macola), feeding back dates for job completions and manufacturing operational data for further analysis and process improvement.
Through an MES solution rather than using excel spreadsheets, a manufacturer will gain:
- Increased visibility and plan adherence
- Reduction of human error through one online, dynamic, production plan for the whole team
- Improved delivery to customers
- Increased utilisation of resources
- A competitive, business advantage through technology