A wide variety of businesses must grapple with capacity management. Leaders can't simply drop a massive workload on employees and expect to meet a deadline without considering dozens of factors.
In manufacturing production, labor hours, raw materials, tools and equipment, storage and other resources must be carefully assessed before work even begins. All of these moving parts make up capacity—a critical element for production efficiency.
Software can assist companies in applying the complex algorithms to disparate aspects of production operations to meet demand seamlessly. This buyer's guide is designed to help you learn more about the capabilities of capacity planning systems.
In the most basic terms, capacity planning systems help companies compare production loads with available capacity within a specific time frame. The process of planning for capacity helps avoid bottlenecks in production, which can impact the entire supply chain.
With data about required materials, equipment availability and man hours and costs, the software is able to spread out production needs across available machine capacity in order to meet demand, on time.
Capacity planning in Infor Visual ERP
There are some important terms related to capacity planning:
These systems only have a few individual components, but each one provides useful insights about how to arrange your available capacity to meet production goals. These features often include:
|Calendar production view||As orders come in, the system can place work into a schedule, and planners can view and edit schedules by dragging and dropping items on a calendar-style workflow chart.
Users can also set priority levels for work orders and assign the total capacity available each day.
|Finite capacity management||As mentioned above, this functionality allows the system to factor in other planned work schedules, inventory, man hours, material levels and other factors to optimize production plans.|
|Real-time capacity planning||Users can make on-the-fly changes to work order schedules or priorities if problems occur during production, instead of resetting the entire plan.|
|Scenario testing and modeling||Capacity planning tools can help users test unfavorable supply chain scenarios by entering various values to optimize contingency plans.|
|Reporting||As a system is used over time, it collects loads of valuable data. Reporting tools can arrange and visualize that data so managers can identify trends in production and address issues.|
Any software purchase comes with several considerations and questions to ask. Identifying the type of buyer you are helps answer many of those. Below are some of the most common buyer types:
ERP suite buyer. Enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) are complex platforms to assist manufacturers (and a wide variety of other types of businesses) by integrating data from all departments to gain a holistic view of operations. This software takes into account the many seemingly unrelated factors that can impact production schedules.
Many modern ERP systems offer capacity planning functionality, and use the wealth of collected data to predict potential issues in production that could impact capacity decisions.
MES buyer. Similarly, stand-alone manufacturing execution systems (MESs) typically offer a capacity planning component. Where an ERP gathers and analyzes information about an entire organization, an MES is hyper specific to that company's manufacturing process—maintaining production assets, dispatching production plans and improving quality of the finished product.
Since this type of software is so particular to the manufacturing type, it's often purchased by itself to integrate with an existing ERP. If you're buying an MES, you likely have the capacity planning functionality you need.
Make-to-order manufacturer. These types of companies begin production only after receiving a work order, so capacity planning is more crucial for these organizations than for those that continuously produce units.
In these situations, manufacturers have a short window to plan for capacity, but software can assist with leveling the load and factoring in other available resources necessary to meet production deadlines.
We've talked about the key benefit of automating the complex issue of capacity planning, but the software also offers some complementary benefits:
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