The Future Production Planner

Today’s Need for Digitally Enabled Production Planning & Scheduling

For an increasing number of companies, Industry 4.0 is now an imminent part of their strategic agenda. Manufacturers are realizing that adopting advanced, smart manufacturing technologies are a qualification to be in the game. Many advanced automation & cloud technologies are being explored and new products supporting new ideas and new technologies are gaining center stage.

PictographJust like how many aspects of business are evolving, the role of production planning in a manufacturing ecosystem is bound to change. Production planning has come a long way from being a misnomer that only big businesses need focus on automation of production planning processes whereas smaller businesses would hardly notice any benefits. Manufacturers who still rely on traditional ways to plan production, realize that they are simply not as effective as their competitors who align their processes with current trends and successful practices.

The present day manufacturing environment presents a unique set of requirements – Increased product variants & volume, complex production operations, individual customer requirements, quicker response to customer and not to mention tough competition. The ability of a production set-up to flexibly adopt to these requirements and change over production quickly as required can be a crucial game changer.

PictographIn the manufacturing industry, planning and scheduling are the cornerstones of a successful production process, with direct impact on the delivery and quality of services provided. Setting up a proper planning system can give manufacturers a strong competitive advantage they need.

In light of the new-age challenges like individualization, the production planning of the future will be a combination of increased focus on technology, personalization, and advanced planning techniques. Equipped with cloud-based planning systems, alerts/ deviations associated with machines (PLC, MES, IoT, RFID, etc…), real-time drill down to transactions and learning algorithms, the production planner of the future will be a business creator. Empowered to prioritize, analyze and solve supply-demand balancing problems at the transaction level, the production planner will be enabled to make informed trade-off decisions. Planning Excellence will not only be accurate forecast or perfect order, but will be defined by commercial impact.

How to find out if a production house is planning its supply chain activities effectively? A happy client is the indicator of proper production planning. Delivering orders on-time & in-full to these customers need not be a distant dream. While we raise a glass to digital transformation in every aspect of manufacturing, it is also essential to explore how digitally enabled planning & scheduling can help manufacturers towards better order fulfillment and gain customer satisfaction.

Challenges Faced In Typical Production Environment
Speed of Re-planning – In a perfect world when a planning team drafts a Production Plan, everything happens as per plan and there may not be a need for replanning. But in reality, there may be Pictographmultiple unexpected events that could go wrong in a single shift that could lead to a ‘Domino Impact’ in the supply chain. The flexibility or resilience of a production house comes to test when there is a need to re-plan and how soon a new ‘work-able’ plan is produced. Delay in the re-planning process can dramatically hurt the balance between demand and supply. Such an imbalance could cause an ‘out-of-synch’ situation, eventually resulting in excess inventory, misused capacities and poor customer service, all of which have a financial impact.

Knowledge in Islands – It is not surprising to see various functional departments in a company (procurement, sales, production and logistics) work in isolation and perform what is called “Island-planning”. In addition, the Production team does not know about goals of Sales team. Procurement team may not know how much of each item will be produced next. This creates numerous dependencies along the internal supply chain. Challenges like insufficient data transfer from one department to another and the latency involved need to be managed.

Even if a common level of knowledge is managed, the production plan still can be incorrect, because the numerous constraints and objectives of each department cannot be optimally coordinated in a normal step-by-step approach. A planning outcome that takes into account every single condition of the internal supply chain needs a concurrent planning approach. All constraints along the entire supply and production chain need to be considered at the beginning of the planning process.

Walking a Tight Rope – For an average production planner, every decision he/she takes has to save costs and increase efficiency or performance simultaneously in order to meet management’s profit goals. For example, machine set-ups when done rarely, saves time and reduces machine downtime. At the same time, occasional set ups mean large batch sizes and these require a lot of material and storage space. Prioritizing and making a trade-off between each of these factors while comparing outcome of each combination can be challenging. Limited visibility of how orders will get affected due to problems can disable the planner to commit a due date and stick to it. Also, it is essential to factor in the alerts/ deviations associated with machines for a more realistic and achievable plan tightly integrated with machines.

PictographData Management – Data plays a decisive role in production planning. Identify – Control – Monitor
– Maintain style of critical key figures will also be required. So, production planners need to have “Digital Skills”. To sum it all up, the goal is to have an integrated, information-based planning system that takes into account, all goals in every part of the internal supply chain, considers all real time constrains like material, capacity, WIP Inventory, demand, etc., & produces a common plan that is valuable and useable for all. This
should take into consideration, all interdependencies, and eliminate manual restructuring, delayed deliveries and unnecessary costs.

Need of the hour

Manufacturers need an Intelligent Planning system which carries out capacity planning, controls production resources, performs detailed production planning and prioritizes orders while managing stocks and production orders. It should enable the production planner to meet the goals of cost-effectiveness and also well-equipped to address the new challenges such as individualization and flexibility.

PictographBosch’s Digital Planning & Scheduling solution fills the bill for such a smart planning system. DPS resides over ERP to perform Production Planning taking into account material and capacity constraints. It pulls required data from ERP like BOM, Routing, Inventory and WIP data as input. The output of the result is sent back to ERP for execution. A company can become flexible and reliable and also at the same time keep inventory and resource downtime low by running production plan frequently. Through Bosch Digital Planning & scheduling Solution, work orders and procurement orders are automatically generated taking into account real time material and capacity constraints. The planning algorithm can be run frequently, to gain visibility over all the weak links in the supply chain. Preventive measure can be taken before the problem goes out of proportion.

Bosch DPS solution can also execute planning & scheduling based on real time alerts/deviations. In comparison to the traditional ERP systems, DPS can be tightly integrated with the machines to track deviations thereby generating real time alerts as a trigger for executing planning & scheduling run. The evolution of the planning system could mean more sophisticated algorithms can be used in determining the optimal plan with every trigger associated with machines. This effectively improves the customer satisfaction and decision making process.

With the right support in the form of an intelligent software for concurrent production planning, production planners will have complete control over the supply chain. By providing a holistic view of all the constraints along the supply chain, and through a management-by-exception approach, the really important and critical situations can be focused on.

About the author

Lokesh Payik

Lokesh Payik

Chief of Digital Enterprise and Connected Industry
Lokesh Payik is the Chief of Digital Enterprise and Connected Industry (Famously known as Industry 4.0 / Industrial IoT) for emerging markets at Bosch. He is responsible for establishing and scaling up the business in India, ASEAN, Mexico and Turkey countries. Lokesh has been instrumental in setting up the business leveraging Bosch competencies in IoT technologies, augmented reality, product development & user experience and now scaling up with customer centricity and a high performing team. Leveraging the proven manufacturing and technology know-how of Bosch from the developed economies, his team translates futuristic vision into digitalization initiatives for the emergent context. A strong proponent of the “People at the Centre” philosophy, Lokesh prides in bringing together “dynamic teams of intent and action” comprising of millennials and the vastly experienced. Lokesh is a Bachelor of Technology from BVB College of Engineering - India and holds a Master’s in Business Administration from La Trobe University, Australia.

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