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What is a production planning system (PPS)?

Published: · Last updated: · 10 min reading time

In industry, the requirements for digital planning tools have been growing for years. This is because constantly increasing product ranges and new manufacturing processes are leading to more and more complexity. Competitive and price pressures continue to pick up speed, and the demand for individual products is increasing. As a result, companies feel compelled to improve their production and planning processes. This is the only way to ensure ongoing competitiveness. This is why more and more companies are turning to intelligent software solutions in production planning and control.

The production planning system (PPS) is a software tool that supports companies in planning, operational control, and monitoring production. The system is designed to support the user in the production planning & production control process and manage the data. The software system thus helps those responsible for production, purchasing, and sales to make better decisions by analyzing the processes. In doing so, the software delivers objective results.

PPS system is undoubtedly helpful for all companies – from SMEs to large corporations. The software gives planners more control over all planning steps. This leads to better response and delivery times. In addition, the software reduces lead times in production. A long lead time is one of the biggest problems companies face. The PPS helps to reduce the lead time significantly. In addition, a PPS offers other benefits as well. It is an effective tool to ensure that planning and production are working correctly and efficiently.

What are the tasks of a PPS system?

The tasks of PPS systems essentially consist of five sub-areas, which are explained below:

The main goals pursued with a PPS system are:

  • Make optimal use of resources
  • Reduce lead times
  • Meet production deadlines & delivery reliability

What does the market for PPS solutions look like?

Many software companies nowadays offer PPS systems as standard software solutions. The companies that use this software then only need to adapt it to their own needs. In most cases, various modules are made available from the software. A module in software is an individual component. In this way, the software can be put together or configured from different modules, just like a modular system. For larger companies, a standard software solution is often not enough. Therefore, they use individual software solutions that have been specially programmed for them. These are naturally more expensive than customizable standard solutions due to the higher complexity of programming. Globalization is advancing more and more these days, which is why many companies resort to a mixture between traditional PPS solutions and unique solutions. However, this type of deployment has the disadvantage of complicating interface management between the different software solutions used by companies.

Many ERP systems already have a PPS system onboard out of the box. ERP systems offer additional functionalities, such as personnel planning and finance. Procurement and sales processes are also often found in ERP systems.

Various industrial sectors are increasingly asking for unique software solutions for their PPS system. Therefore, some PPS providers have decided to offer modules for their PPS solutions specifically geared to the different sectors within the industries. However, there are also industries where a PPS solution, at least in a standard format, is insufficient or cannot be easily implemented. This includes, among others, the automotive industry, as the products here are becoming more and more complex.

PPS system cannot directly control production and its equipment. For example, the control of the output is taken over by MES systems (Manufacturing Executive System). The MES system receives the data for the production orders from the PPS system. These are referred to as target data. The actual data resulting from the production results are recorded by the shop floor data collection and transferred to the PPS system for further processing. The PPS system then takes this data into account in the upcoming planning process. This process ensures that a control loop is established which controls production.

APS means Advanced Planning and Scheduling System. APS is used to plan, manage and monitor supply chains. The entire supply chain of the company is considered. The APS system is used as a software solution in companies and maps the whole supply chain. With the help of an APS, improvements can be made along the supply chain. Errors that may occur in the processing of orders can also be detected and eliminated more quickly. APS systems, like PPS systems, have a modular structure and can therefore be used flexibly.

The prerequisite for an APS system is that it can model the entire process of a supply chain. These processes within the supply chain include, among others, the warehouse, the delivery with the associated supply chains as well as operations that are added from outside. Through this mapping of the processes, the potential for improvement can be identified, and thus, for example, costs can be reduced.

What is the difference between APS and PPS?

As with a PPS system, an APS system is also responsible for planning and scheduling production processes. The sequence of capacity planning plays an essential role in this. APS systems receive orders from production, which originate from an ERP system, and process and optimize them further.
APS and PPS systems differ in terms of the mathematical structure on which the optimization models are based. In most cases, the APS system takes fixed lead times, whereas a PPS system also includes other facts from production in the modeling. APS systems are geared to the entire supply chain. Since PPS systems tend to be more specialized, APS systems are considered a supplement to PPS systems.<

What do production planning and control look like within Industry 4.0?

Networked and largely automated production is a prerequisite for a company’s entire processes to be Industry 4.0-capable. For proper automation and networking, the appropriate software solution must be integrated into the company’s processes. In the age of Industry 4.0, outdated systems or solutions that were developed specifically for the company in the distant past quickly reached the end of their capabilities. Solutions must be created that achieve a high degree of automation.
In addition to production, other areas must be considered by the company. The PPS system must serve other departments such as sales planning, purchasing, materials management, and order management. As the supply chain becomes increasingly digitalized, it is essential to include suppliers, external manufacturing, and buyers in the digital supply chain process

What can a PPS system do?

Because of the complexity in production and manufacturing, the requirements for PPS systems for these areas are rich. PPS systems can include the following features:

Seamless communication between ERP and PPS systems

PPS systems realize their full potential when they are fed with as much information as possible about the company and its processes. It must be taken into account that various technical and organizational factors within the company also play a significant role. Therefore, the priority is to ensure that the plans that are to be implemented are also feasible.

Current PPS systems can effortlessly integrate all surrounding areas of the company, such as materials management. If, for example, another order has to be brought forward, a material bottleneck may occur that affects the entire production order. Therefore, there must be a constant exchange of communication between the PPS system and materials management.

If production orders are delayed for various reasons, real-time synchronization between the PPS and ERP systems is necessary. This is the only way to ensure that MRP (material requirements planning) can take the necessary measures as quickly as possible. Companies that are involved in order production must be able to communicate flawlessly with the order management system.

Why program interfaces must be easy to use and flexible

Many companies today still distinguish between rough and fine planning. Coarse planning provides an overview of the orders to be processed within a period. Good planning goes into more detail, as it carries out the sequence of operations and the grouping of resources.

To keep this complex information transparent, the dashboard of the PPS system must have a clear and concise program interface. For such purposes, the software must map and process a hierarchical structure of the data so that bottlenecks can be analyzed and avoided.

An innovative dashboard also needs to make it easy to make necessary changes. The software should show in an understandable way how delays in individual orders affect the various operational processes. A user interface that is well-designed and visually appealing makes it easy to see when bottlenecks and other difficulties are occurring.

Mapping external data in the PPS system

Other tools from the IT sector include time recording systems, which are used in addition to ERP and PPS systems in manufacturing companies. Production must also be integrated accordingly to provide feedback to the PPS system at runtime. Data on products and designs are equally relevant in many companies. However, it is problematic to keep data from production and development up to date in many cases, as this data requires complex processing.

Interfaces that create connections to CAD, PLM, and PDM solutions help here. This ensures that the development area is constantly supplied with up-to-date master data, drawings, and documents.

Advantages of a PPS system

Companies can benefit from the use of a PPS system. Here is a brief overview of the advantages:

  • Cost control
  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduction of stocks

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