Success Stories from Deployment of an APS Software: A Practical Example

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Success Stories from Deployment of an APS Software: A Practical Example

Most suppliers of scheduling software offer a fragmented approach of systems that consist of functionally independent application modules. These are not intertwined seamlessly and thus do not enable production in a continuous flow. It is essential for Industry 4.0, however, that fully automatic APS/SCP software systems are deployed, as they are the basis on which intricately intertwined processes can be “orchestrated” seamlessly.

A software that fulfills these prerequisites is the Asprova APS and SCP system. It features advanced algorithms that enable 100 % dynamic management of the shop floor – in real time.

In Japan, the country with the highest requirements in JIT-manufacturing standards, Asprova holds a market share of more than 60 %.

Die Erfolge beim Einsatz einer APS Software ein The efficiency of an APS software for scheduling shows in its ability to synchronize all manufacturing processes.

In order to present to you the extensive array of practical advantages that this system offers in a concise and understandable way, we would like to present a real, practical example of a customer. The conveyor technology company GEBHARDT faced challenges in 2016 that are typical for middle-sized machinery manufacturers.

Initial Situation: Using the SAP ERP System

GEBHARDT has been using the SAP ERP System; until implementation of Asprova APS 2016 the company was forced to plan and control their manufacturing processes with Excel.

The GEBHARDT company has great in-house manufacturing depth. Complex processes (such as laser cutting, punching, bending, turning, milling, welding, pre-/final assembly, electric assembly, etc.) including outsourced operations for galvanizing and varnishing, make it impossible for the human brain to deduce an optimal sequence schedule, even with the assistance of Excel.

In light of this, the following challenges at the GEBHARDT Company needed to be overcome:

  • The scheduling knowhow remained exclusively in the heads of production managers.
  • Complexity of the scheduling process increased continually with increasing number of projects and a growing product portfolio.
  • Non-synchronous production of individual components resulted in long production lead times.
  • Stagnation everywherecaused great inventory, especially of work-in-progress parts.

These challenges became increasingly difficult as the company grew in size. A growing number of customer orders increased the scheduling complexity, which made it critically important to optimize all processes; the primary goal was to greatly improve effectiveness and efficiency of the manufacturing process.

Challenges in Implementing the APS System

The first challenge in implementing the Asprova scheduling system has been mapping all rules and restrictions that are specific to the GEBHARDT Company. These haven been, in part:

  • Multi-level finite-capacity scheduling: Main resources and sub resources must be scheduled for every process while considering their limited capacities.
  • Automatic selection of alternative resources
  • Synchronizing parallel processes and merging processes
  • Considering availability of raw materials and work-in-progress parts
  • Considering employee availability: Shift calendar and holidays
  • Outsourced manufacturing

The most important requirement for the scheduling software is that it is capable of mapping the factory’s “reality” to a degree of 100 % and in real time. All product specifications, processes, process rules and restrictions as well as scheduling restrictions need to be considered. If a supposedly minor issue cannot be mapped, logical continuity and consistency of the system is disrupted. Therefore, scheduling results won’t be realistic and you’re back to manual scheduling: There is no middle way.

Important Settings/Function of the Production Scheduling Software at GEBHARDT

In January 2016 a kick-off workshop was held. Then settings to establish an Interface to SAP were completed. Go-live commenced timely in early July of 2016 (including writeback of newly terminated manufacturing orders from Asprova in SAP).

100 % mapping of processes, process rules and restrictions means:

  • Capabilities and capacities and restrictions of individual manufacturing resources (machinery, workplaces and employees) are registered in the software.
  • Certain assembly spaces are usable depending on the type of device used. SAP determines the workspace groups, Asprova chooses the optimal assembly space.
  • Process times, changeover times and waiting times between processes have individual rules which does not require unnecessarily arduous data management.
  • Twenty outsource manufacturers (galvanizing, varnishing, etc.): Every outsourced manufacturing process has a different lead time. Asprova calculates pickup and return delivery dates automatically.
  • In case of an overload of in-house resource capacities the planner can decide through digital simulation which orders (components) are given to which outsource manufacturer.

Considering Material Inventory:

  • The final product consists of up to 100,000 components. Asprova schedules and considers current inventories, inventory fluctuations and material income dates.
  • Asprova APS dynamically links individual components/parts with individual manufacturing orders. This enables One-Piece-Flow Production that is synchronized with sub assembly components.
  • Schedules the timing (completion and demand) of all work-in-progress parts.
  • Material availability check through bill of material (material demand) and inventory / orders / order requirements
  • Remaining required quantity in the BOM
  • Booked quantity of current inventory
  • Orders with quantity specification and delivery at assured material income dates
  • Order requisition with quantity and desired delivery date
  • Calculation of the earliest possible start date for processes: Once material becomes available, a process may start.
  • Consider processing time of received goods
  • Missing parts list: If no inventory / orders / order requisitions to cover demand exist or if such are late, then they are listed in a Pivot Table – per material number of per order (in day of week grid). Asprova provides a requirements date for such missing parts.


Sequence Optimization in the Folding and Turning Areas

  • A changeover matrix is created in Asprova.
  • The order sequence is optimized. Alternative folding and turning machines are selected automatically while changeover times are minimized.


Scheduling Logic and Dispatch Rules

  • In Asprova, complex dispatch rules are set for individual manufacturing orders, resources, customer and more.
  • Sorting of multiple scheduling loops, different sequence results (e.g. postprocessing orders come first; after that priority for delivery date; finally make-to-stock production)
  • Components manufacturing and other areas – according to the sequence and deadlines of assembly at the customer
  • Asprova links sub assembly parts with the assembly order. The delivery date of the customer’s order trickles down into all sub orders which influences sequencing of the mechanical manufacturing area and assembly area (pre-/ end-electric).
asprova aps production planning and scheduling The ability to map 100 % of the shop floor in real time is the most important function of an APS Software.

Interface to SAP

  • Data from SAP is imported into Asprova (differentially) daily: Customer orders, planned and manufacturing orders, work plans, BOMs, material master data, material inventories, material orders, shop floor order progress, etc.


Scheduling Run (rough)


  • The scheduling run is prepared, operations are created, and all orders become interlinked.
  • Data feedback is considered and fixed operations are assigned.

Scheduling order heads and assembly:

  • The dispatch rule determines sorting of operations.
  • Forwards with finite capacity if material availability is provided for up to the delivery date; otherwise, forward and earlier
  • If scheduled too early, adjust backwards.


Sub-Component Scheduling, Assembly Adjustment

  • Sub-components are sorted forwards according to the order head.
  • Operations in the mechanical manufacturing are sorted anew according to individual properties such as sheet metal parameter, CNC programs (within day of operation start from previous assignment), etc.
  • Operations of non-bottleneck resources (Trumpf laser machines, electrical workshop, outsourced manufacturing) are scheduled once more backwards – towards the start date of the next processes / operations / manufacturing order; depending on the start date of the downstream process, orders are pulled (1 to 3 days buffer employed)
  • KPI (plan evaluation)

Schedule Optimization with Asprova APS

Within four years of using Asprova APS, drastically reduced lead time has been achieved. Productivity has been increased by 100 %, leading to a doubling in turnover without the need to increase the production area!

This success can be attributed, in detail, to significant improvements in the production scheduling process:

  • Highly realistic and feasible sequence schedule for every resource
  • Synchronized processes
  • Material availability considered
  • Daily updated schedule containing more than 30,000 manufacturing orders spanning a scheduling horizon of 24 months in advance. Calculation takes less than two minutes.
  • Visualized status of individual orders 24 months in advance via order-GANTT-diagrams, resource-GANTT-diagrams, tables for sequence manufacturing, capacity-load diagram, and much more.
  • Reliable statements about individual customer order completion dates.

For the implementation of an APS scheduling system, function scope and results such as from this practical example must be the benchmark that every other APS system is compared to.