Skip to Content

Infor CloudSuite Industrial APS Best Practices #10 – Think showers, not baths

July 3, 2018

Customers who use APS optimally report that it not only improves their on-time shipment rates, it also helps them reduce lead times. This, in turn, has wider effects on their business because delivering on shorter lead times can make an impact on sales.

But how does APS help with that? APS is about planning, not changing our BOMs.

The answer is simple. The vast majority of time that a job sits on the floor is non-productive queue time. One main driver of that queue time is the practice of releasing jobs too early. When we fill up the shop floor with stuff that doesn’t need to be worked on yet, we cause huge delays with jobs that do need to be finished now. APS helps us avoid that, and it does it through what we call launch control.

There are two parts to launch control, releasing jobs only when APS tells us:

  • It’s the right time
  • We have all the materials available in inventory

In this post, Jim Black, former director of consulting at Infor, explains more about using APS to release jobs at the proper time.

“Release orders on time and according to APS release dates (launch control)” by Jim Black

Today we’ll take a refreshing dip into another commandment—launching, or releasing, supply orders.

When APS creates planned supply orders (PLNs), it establishes the planned date of receipt and the planned date of release. Both of those dates are the result of many considerations.

Furthermore, the quantity and timing of the PLNs have implications on many aspects of the supply chain including:

  • Customer service
  • Factory load and manufacturing cycle times
  • Supplier lead time and supplier performance
  • Receiving
  • Cash flow

Failure to follow the scheduled rate of release will negatively impact the entire supply chain. Fortunately, CloudSuite Industrial has simplified the regulation of these releases with the Material Planners Workbench.

It is incumbent upon you to launch supply orders (jobs or POs) only from the Material Planner Workbench. In other words, rogue jobs or POs cannot be tolerated. The only authorized source of jobs or POs must be PLNs. Only the APS process creates PLNs. Strict adherence to this commandment will ensure the supply chain remains in harmony, and that the procurement plan will support the production plan and the production plan will support the demand plan.

An equally critical but seldom-considered benefit of adhering to the launch plan is that it will minimize your WIP. A key design philosophy of APS is its just-in-time scheduling algorithm. With it, APS creates PLNs which will yield the lowest possible WIP.

The lower the WIP, the better the chance of completing work in the right priority and therefore, the better the chance of work being completed on time. The better chance of jobs being completed on time, the better the chance of shipping customer order lines on time. And that makes happy customers.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Jobs that you release on time are more likely to consume the purchased parts on time and thereby accelerate the cycle time through the supply chain. This reduces the time from AP (receiving) to AR (shipping). A shorter time between paying and receiving cash means a better cash flow, and cash flow is even more important than profit for a company’s financial well-being.

Perhaps the imagery of a bathtub would help to make the point. Assume both tubs have the same rate of output (the drain) but different rates of input (the faucet). The tub on the left is full of water because the operator isn’t controlling the rate of input to match the rate of output. The near-empty tub on the right has the input rate controlled through the faucet (the Material Planners Workbench) to match the output rate.

APS will plan for harmony and minimal WIP naturally. Having water (WIP) back up in the tub is wasteful. It just sits there getting stale and cold. We encourage you to use APS to make your queue run like a shower, not a bath.

When shop floors are bloated with WIP, things go horribly wrong. All that WIP masks the real problems. More often than not, management wrongly jumps to the conclusion that they have a problem controlling priorities and pursue fruitless attempts to just get the priority right. Some of these fruitless attempts include fiddling with all kinds of complex dials and switches in the software in an attempt to control things. Almost always, such fiddling only makes problems worse.

Sadly, this almost always takes a toll on people. But it’s not the people or the priorities. The problem is with the process. It’s with simply having too many things in the queue.

Starve the queue through launch control, and it will be amazing how quickly things emerge in the right priority.

Jobs will not only flow through the shop faster (with the same touch time), they will be the right jobs—the ones we need to support the demand plan and achieve the on-time shipment of customer order lines.

When thinking of supply, think showers—not baths.

What’s next?

Launch control is so important, we recorded a whole webinar about it. In the webinar, Jim explains how he discovered this when he was working as a production supervisor at 3M and the dramatic results it had. It’s called “How to stop drowning in a sea of WIP”: Watch now (Outside US).

In the first posts in the series, we shared practices for keeping your data accurate. In this post, we moved to the commandment of following the plan. In the next post, we’ll talk about the next practice of following the plan that helps you avoid tons of wasted time.

Stay tuned.

As you read these posts, if you feel you want to dig into APS in more detail with hands-on exercises, take one of our Infor courses.

Take the Infor course to learn how to use APS

APS is designed to help you distinguish yourself in the marketplace with faster lead times and higher on-time shipment rates. Learn how to use APS by taking one of our hands-on Infor Campus courses. Start today!

Self-directed hands-on course: Register now (Outside US)

Instructor-assisted hands-on course: Register now (Outside US)

About the author:

John Brown | Education Product Manager, Infor

Filed Under
  • Education & Transformation Services
  • Industrial Manufacturing
  • SyteLine
  • Worldwide
Let’s Connect

Contact us and we'll have a Business Development Representative contact you within 24 business hours

Infor values your privacy.