Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice has helped hundreds of manufacturers choose the right advanced planning and scheduling software to organize their production tasks more efficiently.

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NetSuite

NetSuite is a business management software suite offered as a service that performs enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) functions. It is a horizontal package designed for an extensive rang... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 96 recommendations

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Prodsmart

Prodsmart is a cloud-based real-time production tracking and management solution designed for businesses in the manufacturing and fabrication industries. Features include shop floor real-time data collection, production analysis, ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 49 recommendations

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Striven

Striven is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution suitable for many industries and organizations of all sizes. It offers features for accounting, inventory management, human resources, customer relationship mana... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 37 recommendations

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JobBOSS

JobBOSS Shop Management Solutions, an ECi Software Solutions company, is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution built for small and midsize manufacturers in North America. It allows key office and production staff to manag... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

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M1 ERP

ECi M1 is a subscription-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, available on-premise or via the cloud, that automates financials, inventory, production, sales/quoting and production planning. The solution is suitable for... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 27 recommendations

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DELMIAworks

DELMIAworks (formerly IQMS) ERP is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging, and elec... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 22 recommendations

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E2 Shop System

E2 by Shoptech Corporation is a manufacturing solution that offers scheduling, purchasing, shipping, customer management and accounting. It’s designed specifically for job shops, contract and a variety of make-to-order manufacture... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

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Acumatica Cloud ERP

Acumatica Construction Edition is true cloud construction and accounting software that provides office and field teams real-time data including job costing, change orders, project management, dashboards and more. With field and of... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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Visual EstiTrack

Henning Software has helped small to midsize manufacturers and job shops for 30 years. Visual EstiTrack ERP has complete material requirements planning, product lifecycle, supply chain, customer relationship, human resource and ma... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

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Global Shop Solutions

Global Shop Solutions offers ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application is comprised of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Visibility ERP

Visibility ERP is a fully integrated and modern ERP solution designed to meet the unique needs of manufacturers of complex products (including To-Order, ETO, CTO, MTO, Project Based, Discrete and Hybrid). It provides manufacturers... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 11 recommendations

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Brahmin Solutions

Brahmin Solutions is a cloud-based Inventory and MRP software for fast-growing SMBs. The product is designed for manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers to manage all operations dealing with purchasing, sales, inventory, and man... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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OptiProERP with Sap Business One

OptiProERP with SAP Business One is a complete ERP solution for small and midsize manufacturers and distributors. SAP Business One is an ERP platform designed for small and midsize companies with over 70,000 customers. OptiProERP ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

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Aquilon ERP

Aquilon Software offers a combined supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, and financial management system that is deployable either on the cloud or on-premise. All modules integrate with each other, allowing users to gain full... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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MIE Trak Pro

One word sums up MIE Trak Pro: flexibility. You may be using tired old spreadsheets or an ERP system that can't scale with your manufacturing company. When your organization grows, MIE Trak Pro adapts to your needs, striking a bal... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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SYSPRO

SYSPRO is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution designed for manufacturers and distributors. SYSPRO can be deployed in the cloud, on premise or through a hybrid model, and it can be accessed from any device. SYSPRO is lic... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Kinetic

Epicor ERP is a comprehensive on-prem and cloud-based ERP solution that provides manufacturers with robust capabilities for job costing, supply chain, inventory control, pre-production materials planning and manufacturing executio... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Made2Manage ERP

Aptean Industrial Manufacturing is designed for manufacturers in job shops and dynamic "to-order" and mixed-mode environments. It's suitable for SMB manufacturers in industries like industrial equipment, electronics and fabricated... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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LillyWorks

LillyWorks cloud-based Manufacturing ERP is designed specifically for small manufacturers. It increases visibility to the shop floor & helps manufacturers deliver on time by considering unplanned variability on the shop floor. Bui... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Fulcrum

Fulcrum is a cloud-based platform serving small/mid-sized manufacturers and job shops looking for a software platform that truly understands them and their unique, complicated processes. Humans weren’t meant to transcribe data fro... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Buyers guide

As manufacturing operations grow, complex demands often outpace standard manufacturing resource planning (MRP) tools. Production managers can address these growing pains using advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software. These best-of-breed platforms improve production efficiency using mathematical modeling based on more variables than basic MRP software.

Choosing a software solution can feel daunting when there are so many similar MRPs, APSs, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) options to choose from. This guide will explain what makes APSs unique and how to select the right solution for your business.

Here's what we'll cover:

What is advanced planning and scheduling software?

APS software collects complex production data and uses mathematical modeling to suggest production strategies that improve efficiency and profitability. These systems give production managers predictions and data visualizations to inform their decisions. APS software offers enough flexibility to manage multiple production streams in a single platform.

Common features of advanced planning and scheduling software

While advanced planning and scheduling tools often target different markets or user niches, most platforms offer some version of the following features:

Capacity planning

Organize production capacity based on changing manufacturing demands. Prioritize manufacturing runs based on profitability, urgency, raw material availability, and other factors.

Production scheduling

Assign jobs to specific machinery based on factors such as available capacity and current workload. Avoid scheduling conflicts and wasted downtime using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Material requirements planning

Control manufacturing inventory and scheduling to meet production goals.

Quality management

Improve production processes by collecting data to identify manufacturing challenges such as bottlenecks, delays, and inefficiencies.>

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Establish and track performance indicators to evaluate progress and results. Use these metrics to plan future capacity and consider capital investments in new infrastructure.

Gantt charts

Create appealing visualizations to illustrate and coordinate project benchmarks and dependencies.

Order management

Organize, track, and execute complex make-to-order (MTO) and assemble-to-order (ATO) production runs.

What type of buyer are you?

Finding the right production software solution begins with knowing what kind of buyer you are. Here's a breakdown of APS buyers versus MRP and ERP buyers so you can figure out which group you're a part of, and the type of software you need:

Manufacturing resource planning software buyers: MRP buyers manage production using scheduling models that compare each run against constant total capacity, rather than the variable available capacity remaining after considering other tasks on the same equipment. MRPs use simple formulas to predict completion times. Order fulfillment is a linear process that does not incorporate lead time into planning. MRP buyers treat all orders as equal without prioritizing profitability. MRP software tends to be a good fit for manufacturers that perform large production runs with little product variability.

Advanced planning and scheduling software buyers: APS buyers manage production based on actual available capacity, which can change at any time. APSs use complex mathematical models to simulate alternative production scenarios, which helps managers choose the best schedule. APSs also factor in order lead time into fulfillment processes. APS buyers prioritize the most profitable jobs and production scenarios. APS software tends to be a good fit for manufacturers that make or assemble products to order, manage many parts, have unusually complicated tasks, or schedule product lines that compete for resources.>

Enterprise resource planning software buyers: ERP buyers are able to take advantage of all that APSs have to offer, in addition to a few key features for large organizations. ERPs offer seamless data integration to merge many functions into a single platform. ERPs have more tools for business functions such as estimation, work-in-progress management, and accounting. ERP buyers can use the software's estimates to export project management budgets with invoice matching and cost allocation.

Benefits

Advanced planning and scheduling software improves production in several ways:

Prioritize equipment use. APS software lets you schedule production and assembly events around equipment that is more expensive to operate. This strategy ensures that expensive equipment is only used when needed. Users can also prioritize equipment that is cheaper to operate, which saves money. Some systems can even suggest machinery use schedules based on repair cycles and consumables to avoid equipment downtime.

Increase profitability. Comparing production scenarios based on profitability in APS software allows you to focus on production of your most valuable products. Choosing the most profitable production schedule avoids wasteful opportunity costs that come from producing products with narrower margins at the expense of products with better margins.

Identify production bottlenecks. Get a big-picture perspective of your entire production environment to predict possible delays and schedule operations to avoid them.

Key considerations for purchasing advanced planning and scheduling software

APS software allows managers to change or ignore the system's recommendations. However, these modifications often introduce unexpected inefficiencies. Persistent disagreements with APS recommendations may suggest that the system was configured with false assumptions or that your operations manager should receive additional APS software training.

Market trends to understand

Understanding the following trends can help you select advanced planning and scheduling software that will grow with your organization:

  • More and more APSs directly integrate with production floor equipment. Some APS solutions offer integrations that collect real-time data from your equipment. This data can refine production predictions and recommendations, even in the middle of a production run. These integrations also save time and prevent errors by collecting data automatically.
  • Visualizations are becoming more robust. Most APS platforms can produce Gantt charts to display production timelines and illustrate steps that must be completed before other steps can begin (such as assembly). In addition, some platforms now explain production scenarios using a graphical display. This makes it easier for managers to interpret system recommendations at a glance.