Planning and scheduling play a major role in most businesses, however in the world of Fast Moving Consumer Goods with changing consumer demands and tight sell-by dates, it’s absolutely vital. The process of managing resources, production, and distribution requires a balancing act to meet customer demands while ensuring efficiency and maximising profits.
To achieve this delicate balance, many FMCG companies are turning to advanced scheduling software like Opcenter APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) to streamline their operations, support their planning and boost overall efficiency.
Planning vs scheduling in the FMCG industry
Before we look at the role scheduling software plays in the FMCG industry, let’s first distinguish between planning and scheduling.
Planning involves developing a comprehensive strategy to achieve the organisation’s long-term goals. It typically spans a longer timeframe and, in the FMCG industry, typically focuses on forecasting demand, allocating resources, and establishing production and distribution plans.
Scheduling, on the other hand, is the tactical process of assigning specific tasks and activities to resources within a defined time frame. It takes into account the real-time constraints and capacities of resources like production lines, machines, and labour in order to ensure smooth operations.
The challenges of traditional planning and scheduling methods
In the past, FMCG companies relied heavily on manual planning and scheduling processes. While this approach may have been sufficient for simpler operations, the growing complexities of modern supply chains have exposed its limitations. Traditional methods are time-consuming, error-prone (we’re only human after all!), and often struggle to adapt to unexpected changes in demand or production disruptions.
Additionally, as the FMCG industry experiences increasing pressure to deliver goods faster and more efficiently with less waste, a more sophisticated approach is required. This is where planning and scheduling software like Opcenter APS comes into play.
While planning and scheduling are distinct stages, they are interconnected and overlap in some areas. The success of scheduling depends on the accuracy and effectiveness of the planning phase. Timeline overlap includes:
The data collected during the planning phase serves as valuable input for scheduling activities.
Planning is usually conducted on a weekly or monthly basis, while scheduling is a daily task. However, adjustments to the schedule may occur due to changes in the long-term plan.
While scheduling is short-term, it needs to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in demand or unforeseen events, which may require adjustments to the long-term plan.
Bridging the gap between planning and scheduling
Whilst planning is important, it is done weeks in advance and often looks at a perfect case scenario without factoring in any last-minute changes. When using a tool like Opcenter APS, planners can ensure their plans are scheduled and carried out efficiently with quick reaction times to sudden issues or changes.
As the name suggests, Opcenter APS combines planning and scheduling into a single, integrated platform. It serves as a bridge between the long-term decisions made during the planning phase and the short-term operational decisions made during scheduling. Some of the key methods used to accomplish this include:
If used in combination with other software, Opcenter APS integrates data from various sources within the business, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and other relevant databases. By having access to real-time data, Opcenter APS ensures that the plans and schedules are based on accurate, up-to-date information.
During scheduling, Opcenter APS takes into account various constraints, such as machine capacities, labour shifts, and material availability. By considering these constraints, the scheduling phase ensures that the production process is feasible.
Opcenter APS enables what-if analysis, allowing manufacturers to simulate different scenarios and assess their potential impact. This capability helps in making informed decisions during both the planning and scheduling phases, as it provides insights into how changes in one area might affect the entire production process.
Real-time monitoring and adjusting
Opcenter APS provides real-time monitoring of the production process, allowing manufacturers to track progress, identify bottlenecks, and respond promptly to unexpected disruptions. This feature ensures that the production stays on track and aligns with the established schedules.
Wondering whether Opcenter APS could help your FMCG business plan and schedule more efficiently? Contact us today. With our decades of experience and deep understanding of the industry, we are well-equipped to provide you with the tailored solutions you need to get the most from your processes.