Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software for Engineer to Order Businesses
We define an engineer to order (ETO) business as one that creates a unique product to a customer’s specification. Examples of those unique products range from complicated electronics or machinery with thousands of parts, to much more simple items such as printing or packaging.
If you run an ETO business, regardless of your product complexity, you know that managing customer’s delivery expectations is critical to your success. Customers order unique product to fit a specific business need. Therefore, it only stands to reason that they are very concerned with when that product will be available. Often customers not only expect you to make and keep delivery promises, but also want you to report progress against important engineering and manufacturing milestones.
The key to promising delivery is future visibility into when customer orders will finish. Software that provides this visibility must schedule in a manner that explicitly considers constraints, and schedule work out in time based on real capacity.
Furthermore, good customer commitments in ETO environments need to consider both engineering and manufacturing. Tasks in either of these areas can take longer than expected, delaying overall delivery to customers. Lack of commonality between engineering and manufacturing complicates the situation. Time in engineering can be influenced by the amount of engineering required, and scarce, highly skilled engineering resources. Time in manufacturing can be influenced by a host of factors such as limits on machines, tooling, and material, as well as skilled manufacturing labor. Manufacturers have historically turned to two disparate tools to help; Project Management Software which helps plan engineering, and ERP Software which helps plan manufacturing.
Project Management Software allows engineering projects to be broken into an almost unlimited number of tasks, with complicated relationships (dependencies) between the tasks. There is some debate as to how well Project Management Software handles a single finite constraint (typically it uses a post schedule “leveling algorithm”). However, Project Management Software has little or no capability to handle the multiple finite constraints that occur in manufacturing. Project management software also is not designed for the intricacies of manufacturing environments. For instance, Project Management Software doesn’t do a good job of handling large volumes of orders. It also is not designed to handle alternate resources, automatic splitting of operations, batch machines (ovens), time per piece calculations, sequence dependent set up times, bills of material, etc.
While more suited to manufacturing environments, ERP Software also has serious deficiencies when scheduling. ERP Software traditionally schedules \ plans in a backward infinite manner, considering estimated lead times rather than real production constraints. ERP Software is also notoriously weak when considering the complicated task dependencies that occur in engineering. ERP’s lack of flexibility in handling task dependencies also impacts its ability to effectively handle ETO manufacturing. For example, rather than modeling complicated operation relationships (e.g. a top and bottom of a tool being processed in parallel) directly, ERP forces these relationships to be specified with bills of material.
Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software gives you the best of both worlds. Like Project Management Software, Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software can model the complicated task dependencies that occur in both ETO engineering and manufacturing. Like ERP Software, Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software can handle large volumes of orders, bills of material, and time per piece calculations. Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software also has the capability to address manufacturing complexities such as alternate resources, automatic splitting of operations, batch machines (ovens), and sequence dependent set up times.
Most importantly Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software can accurately model and schedule all constraints (e.g. machines, tooling, material, engineering and manufacturing skills) in a finite manner. Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software’s finite scheduling features give you the future visibility you require. Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software helps you make and keep customer delivery promises. Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software also allows you to report to your customers’ progress against important engineering and manufacturing milestones.