How can you optimize a production process

The factory of the future is smart and efficient. Your production is optimally aligned: less costs and time with more output at the same time. But how does production optimization work? Which levers do you have to turn? And how can intelligent detailed planning systems (APS) provide useful support?

Increased competition, increasing cost pressure and changing customer requirements are forcing companies to optimize their production even more. In addition to various target criteria, it is important in production optimization to simultaneously oversee and control all planning-relevant resources and restrictions in production. To make matters worse, optimization goals often compete with one another.

For those responsible for planning, the challenge is to create a feasible production plan that

  1. includes all relevant target criteria,
  2. their complex interaction is taken into account and
  3. these are weighted according to preference.

Conventional planning methods such as Excel are no longer able to master such a complex task. An intelligent planning solution provides a remedy: an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system enables smooth order processing, short delivery times and cost optimization. The hallmarks of the smart and efficient factory of tomorrow.

In the following, we will show you 7 target criteria for your production optimization and how you can align them perfectly for your company with the help of an APS system.

1.) Optimize set-up times

Setup times offer enormous and often underestimated savings potential. Because short set-up times give companies the opportunity to increase production capacities and reduce throughput times and production batch sizes at short notice.

The practice is often different: Setup processes often take a lot of time, can sometimes only be carried out by certain qualified employees (setup engineers) and are therefore very cost-intensive.

In order to minimize set-up times, the APS system optimizes the order of the orders to be produced and distributes them as best as possible to the existing machines or systems (if several alternative machines are available).

For the Optimizing the order the APS system groups all orders in such a way that they can be produced one after the other. The aim is to always find the best follow-up order that minimizes set-up times and interruptions as much as possible. For this purpose, the APS system combines orders with the same set-up processes, taking into account restrictions such as shift models or delivery dates, as production lots in a cost-effective manner. A production lot then contains, for example, all the same items, all items manufactured with the same tool or items with the same properties (such as color, material or shape).

Since machines can have different set-up times, the APS system always selects the Alternative with the shorter set-up time. In a simplified form, with two machines, all items with the color red are manufactured on machine 1 and all items with the color blue on machine 2.

For example, if you can shorten the set-up time of a machine by one hour, four set-up operations per week result in additional production capacity of half a working day per week.

Minimal set-up times can, under certain circumstances, endanger the goal of adherence to deadlines. This means that an order can be completed more quickly if several machines are occupied at the same time. In return, there is a significant additional effort in order to then convert all machines for the subsequent orders.

2.) Optimize personnel costs

A basic requirement for optimizing personnel costs are current data on qualifications, cost rates and working time models of the workforce in production. Using the APS system, this valuable data can be easily maintained and employees can be planned in a cost-effective manner.

In the APS system, you can assign different qualifications or machine jobs to the individual employees with different hourly rates. By assigning priorities, you control the activities for which a production employee should be preferred. If there is free capacity, this is also available for other activities if the qualifications required for this are stored accordingly.

The Subdivision into armor and operator is a typical example in manufacturing. Equipment workers are often a bottleneck resource and, due to their high level of equipment qualification, should be optimally planned in production for precisely this purpose. If free capacities are still available, it would also be conceivable to plan an armor to operate machines for an optimal personnel deployment plan. In this case, the personnel costs are higher, but no time is lost in production.

With the optimization of personnel costs, you plan all employees according to their working hours and their qualifications in production. You recognize overcapacities or bottlenecks in the early planning stage and thus optimize the utilization of the existing pool of employees.

3.) Optimize manufacturing costs

Often, productions consist of different machines or workplaces. Due to their performance parameters and production options, these can alternatively be used for the order stock to be planned.

If the priority in your production planning is to optimize production costs, an APS system plans the orders on the resources so that production is as cost-effective as possible. The result will be Machines with low cost rates planned.

With lower performance parameters and corresponding production quantities, longer lead times and thus delays can certainly occur. If the production plan still adheres to all deadlines or quality standards, this strategy can be quite suitable for your production optimization.

4.) Optimize lead times

The total duration of all processing steps of an order from the start of the first step to the last step is referred to as the processing time (DLZ). Optimizing throughput times is primarily aimed at minimizing unnecessary idle times between individual work steps of an order and producing correspondingly more orders in the same period.

For shorter service centers, the APS system therefore preferably uses faster machines in order to shorten the individual steps of an order. There Machines with higher performance parameters usually have higher hourly rates, the production costs increase.

In order to minimize the idle times between individual work steps of an order, the APS system selects the next free machine. Since this method neglects production batches that are optimal for setup, setup times or setup costs may increase.

In addition, the APS system plans a work step at the point in time at which the next work step can follow as immediately as possible.

5.) Optimize capacity utilization

Optimal capacity utilization aims to make optimal use of all available resources such as personnel, machines or equipment. It is important to be short-term Idle times between operations too avoid.

The target criterion evaluates a short-term occupancy stronger than long-term utilization. It therefore always competes with the target criterion of capital commitment. If there are currently free production capacities available, the APS system automatically brings forward an order that is actually scheduled for a later point in time. In this way you immediately use the available resources optimally and create free capacities for future orders. Since you tie up capital at an earlier point in time with this strategy to optimize production, your capital tie-up costs may increase.

6.) Optimize capital commitment

Production processes often result in longer idle or storage times for products, be it due to inaccurate material planning during procurement or due to production orders that are triggered too early. These idle times result in a corresponding capital commitment for raw materials or semi-finished and finished products.

If the top priority in production planning is to optimize capital tied up, the APS system plans the orders in such a way that, if possible, no long storage times occur between the start of production and the requirement date. The aim is to complete all orders as close to the delivery date as possible and thus to minimize or even avoid inventory costs. Through one in the APS system integrated material requirements planning you can schedule the order times optimally for the subsequent production.

An optimized capital commitment usually goes hand in hand with a shortened DLZ, but is the opposite of adherence to deadlines. In order to avoid possible delays, it may be necessary to start production at an earlier point in time and thus tie up capital. Otherwise, the risk of not being able to deliver on time increases if even small disruptions lead to delays.

7.) Optimize adherence to deadlines

Unconditional adherence to deadlines and precise statements on delivery dates are among the main criteria for a modern production company in order to position itself successfully on the market. When selecting the optimization criterion “adherence to deadlines”, particular attention is paid to the specified Customer appointments to hold and thus Late fees to avoid.

If orders cannot be scheduled on time, these delays can be seen promptly. An intelligent planning solution (APS system) shows that Causes of these delays on. These can be internal (too few employees or machines) or external (late delivery of material).

in the Scenario mode With the APS system, you can test and evaluate various solution options, such as increasing production capacity or hiring new production employees, in order to find and implement the best option for your production optimization. This means that you can see today whether bottlenecks can occur at a later point in time. At the same time, you ensure the goal of adherence to deadlines, as there is still enough time to react.

By transferring priorities in the system, you can also increase or decrease the weighting of individual orders. If, for example, not all orders can be completed by a certain date, a slight delay in an "unimportant" order is more likely to be accepted if this means that a "chief order" meets its deadline.

With an APS system to the right production plan

There is no such thing as a “one” product plan (the egg-laying woolly milk pig, so to speak) that works equally for all companies. Rather, it is based on weighing the pros and cons of the target criteria. These are often in opposite directions and therefore cannot be optimized in production at the same time.

A multi-criteria detailed planning tool (APS system) therefore checks all target criteria in order to better cope with their complex interaction. If you weight the target criteria based on your preferences, you will receive the right production plan for your company. An APS system provides you with all the relevant information for this.

Register now for our free webinar and find out how you can use our multi-criteria planning solution GANTTPLAN to set all 7 target criteria for your production optimization.

Abbreviations used: PZR = planning period APS = Advanced Planning and Scheduling DLZ = lead time

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