Whether you are a manufacturer with limited staff or a more extensive operation with hundreds of employees, manually managing production schedules is time-consuming and prone to errors. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to
MxAPS from Insight Works is an advanced finite capacity planning and scheduling app that generates a schedule that you can actually use on the shop floor. Often production schedules are managed by one or two people who really understand the process. MxAPS takes this knowledge and experience and automates the process.
MxAPS uses your data in Business Central to tell you precisely what you can build, when you can make it, when you can expect it to be done, if the order is going to be late, if it is going to be early, and other things.
With a simple click of a button, production schedules are automatically created. This dynamic scheduling means schedules are easily created as often as needed. Let’s take a closer look at some of the features of MxAPS.
Out-of-the-box, Business Central performs backward scheduling, which means Business Central is given a ship date and works the production schedule back from there. The result is that the production start date may be in the past or three weeks from now. But what if you have the manufacturing capacity today? With MxAPS, you define the start date, and MxAPS then schedules all your activities to figure out when they will be done.
Finite capacity scheduling ensures that you spread your work out over the appropriate machines and get your orders completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Scheduling Work and Machine Centers
MxAPS will automatically select the most suitable machine to use when choosing a machine during the scheduling process. For example, if you have a work center with four different machines, all you have to do is schedule your work at that work center, and MxAPS will choose the most appropriate machine for the job.
Speaking of machines centers, MxAPS will adapt if a specific machine or work center is unavailable. For example, MxAPS may recommend a task be subcontracted, and while this may not be ideal, subcontracting may be preferred over missing a deadline.
MxAPS is loaded with features, for example, sequencing, where MxAPS will consider priority, setup time, job parameters, and other variables to optimize schedules. Sequencing includes things like running jobs from light to dark or from hot to cold.
For some manufacturers, lot splitting is important when operating in a high-volume environment. Let’s say you have an order for 10,000 widgets, and you know you cannot run all of the units on one machine because it will tie up that machine for a week. MxAPS can split the job up in a few different ways, including smaller lots, specific lot quantities, across multiple machines, over several days, or other specified rules.
MxAPS is nothing if not flexible, and you’ll see this when it comes to net-change rescheduling. Should equipment breakdown or priorities change, MxAPS will quickly and easily adapt the production schedule accordingly.
Downtime and Machine Maintenance
When it comes to machine downtime and maintenance, MxAPS has you covered with the ability to adapt production schedules when equipment is unavailable. When it comes to machine maintenance, MxAPS calculates machine hours to help drive a predictive maintenance schedule.
For example, based on your production schedule, a specific machine may accumulate 1,000 hours by month-end and require maintenance. Or, maybe you schedule regular monthly maintenance without knowing run-hours. Perhaps the machine only has 600 hours and can go another 400 hours before maintenance is required. With MxAPS, maintenance downtime can be optimized and scheduled only when necessary.
MxAPS enables users to add parameters for those that require non-production scheduling. For example, maybe you need to move materials from one operation to another and have to account for this time. Or, perhaps you need to let equipment cool before being used again. MxAPS will create realistic and executable schedules.
For more sophisticated manufacturing processes, MxAPS will model different setup values to determine the optimal schedule. Take injection molding, for example. Re-tooling the injection molding equipment may take two hours, where a color change may only require 30 minutes. In this case, it will be more efficient to run the job with the color change before re-tooling for another job. MxAPS will consider the same tooling used for different production orders and group them when it makes sense.
Managing Fractional Labor
MxAPS will use fractional labor models when needed. For example, you may have enough orders to run on six machines; however, you only have enough labor to operate three machines. MxAPS will constrain production orders to the resources available.
So, I’ve highlighted a few of the features of MxAPS. As mentioned, whether you are a small manufacturer with simple scheduling requirements or an operation with lots of variables, MxAPS for Dynamics 365 Business Central will quickly generate accurate and actionable schedules. Other features include:
- True finite capacity scheduling that includes machinery, labor, tooling, and raw materials.
- The ability to quickly re-generate schedules to handle new or expedited orders and respond automatically to changing conditions like equipment breakdowns or absent staff.
- The advanced heuristics within MxAPS remove the grunt work from scheduling by pulling everything together for you.
- User-configurable scheduling rules help sequence work on machinery. Rules can be based on process attributes like color, physical dimensions, or any user-defined parameter.
- Transfer lot splitting to break a long-running operation into multiple smaller units with the possibility to run on different work centers or machine centers.
- Predicated ship dates based on your existing order load and capacities.
- Flexible order grouping lets you run multiple orders on the same equipment simultaneously or back to back based on them sharing a common setup or the need to ship at the same time.
- Powerful simulation capabilities to explore the impact of running overtime, purchasing additional capital equipment, or even just expediting a single production order on various metrics such as delivery performance and machine utilization.
- Integration with Insight Work’s Shop Floor Insight app for paperless schedule communication via shop floor terminals that capture production time and component consumption.
Getting started with MxAPS is simple. Visit