If you have Infor SyteLine or CloudSuite Industrial as your ERP system, then you’ll know it’s expansive or – as we like to say – ‘a bit of a beast’.
What we mean by this is that we know it can do a lot for us, but we may not necessarily be making the most of its attributes.
For example, most of you will be familiar with MRP, but APS does offer a broader range of benefits. As ever, though, this is subject to us getting our act together up front and making sure the ‘good data in – good data out’ mantra is adhered to. So we’d like to touch on what APS offers us, what its benefits are but also, and what we need to do to get the best from it.
What does APS offer?
APS will, using the data* you’ve given it (*and we’ll go into this a little more shortly), plan for you what your business needs to buy, from whom, by which date and at what price (cost). In addition – and this is where MRP is left behind – it will also tell you what to manufacture, how to make it, when the Job needs to start, what needs to be issued to the Job, by which date, and how much this will cost you. It does this essentially by ‘backwards planning’ (I won’t go into the backwards/forwards/backwards planning method here, but you should be aware of this by now) to advise on buying/making what you need and when you need it.
Considering what we need to buy or make, APS will fundamentally look at three demand paths: Safety Stock, Forecasts, and Customer Orders. Once it has data for any or all of these, it will do its thing. Many businesses, we find, have stock on the shelf that has massive value. Much of this is ‘just in case’ but is not officially tied to any demand. Allowing us to load forecasts for ‘top-level’ items lets APS plan for things that we either expect to sell based on historical patterns, ‘loose’ agreements with customers, or a mix of both. We don’t have to stock up unnecessarily but can plan a little more realistically. Safety stock will cover short-notice orders, but some thought also needs to go into what these are set at and why, whilst avoiding over-using this and falling back into expensive stock holding for the sake of it.
Let’s break this down into two areas: Buying things and making things.
When we are looking at buying, SyteLine allows us to add lots of useful detail regarding who/what/when etc. When we add a ‘purchased’ item to the system, we can enhance this by adding MOQs, order multiples, a cost and a lead-time. We can further enhance this by making this data vendor-specific. We create a ‘contract’ (a systemic relationship) between the item and a vendor. This then enables us to add specific detail regarding costs and MOQs. etc., and lead times from this vendor. More vendors can be added, and a hierarchy created to ‘rank’ them for the purchase of this product.
When a part comes up in APS due to a demand, SyteLine looks at this detail and works back from the due date to suggest what to buy, from which vendor (as the preferred), how much to pay, in what quantity, and on which date – allowing for lead-times. This information can then be managed as you see fit through consolidation of POs/PO lines, looking ahead, making informed decisions, or simply converting the PO/PO lines suggested at face value.
Manufacturing set-up offers the equal capability to plan efficiently through APS. Once APS runs and takes into account the demand loaded – as previously detailed – as with purchased parts, it will suggest Jobs to be raised and released according to lead times.
It is important to remember that APS now accounts for your routings, which is why the data loaded up-front needs to be accurate. As we give a manufactured part a routing – operations through which an item will pass to add value and ultimately create the FG part to sell – this will inherently include timings through each individual operation, including machine and/or labour input.
APS will look at these, assess how many are required to be made on a Job and, using the operation details loaded into the routing, calculate backwards from the due date when the Job should begin. APS will also have looked at any sub-assembly or component data and planned either POs or Jobs for these too. All of this will be accounted for in suggesting the Job and its start date.
The aim of APS is to allow a business to plan things when they are needed and deliver on time.
However, in order for this to work, we must have already done our homework to ensure that the detail loaded for APS to work with is relevant and accurate. Let us consider what this entails:
- We need to load the purchased and manufactured Items into SyteLine
- We need to add lead times, MOQs, etc., vendors and costs to purchased Items
- We need to add a routing to manufactured Items
- The routing must include the relevant work centres, machine and labour throughput times, lot (batch) sizes, and component parts added.
This has been simplified but, even so, you can see that a lot of work up-front is needed for APS to offer realistic and workable plans.
Tangible APS benefits
We only buy what we need when we need it; we only make what we need when we need to make it; we can be flexible in how we use the APS data and plans – ultimately, we are still in charge but are using APS as a tool – it will not execute a plan – that’s up to us. But it will give us a useful, accurate, and time/cost-effective plan. We will have minimal unnecessary stock and, therefore, minimal value ‘sat on the shelf’.
Here at Gradient, we have extensive experience in this extensive and powerful part of SyteLine and CSI and can work with your business to streamline the APS process, clean up your data and routings and help you work towards minimising stock value whilst maximising efficiency.
If you want to maximise your usage of APS but are unsure where to start, contact us to find out more about how we can support you!