Company management at ALPLA decided in 2016 to optimise the planning processes - to take a key step towards Industry 4.0. It was evident to management that much potential was still being left unexploited, in planning in particular.
Following an evaluation phase with subsequent, intensive test phase, 2017 saw the introduction of PlanTool from pro-PlanTool GmbH. In addition to functionality, ease of use and costs, seamless integration into the existing ERP system on site and the MES system from CERTA Systems was one of the key criteria. Now, with the introduction of PlanTool, information flows from Engineering to Production via manufacturing scheduling, and back, digitally, with time-consuming and unproductive paper printouts consigned to the past.
The time it takes to plan new tools has shortened over the long term. Approximate deadlines are scheduled in, and potential bottlenecks identified, in the early phase. Its ease of use means a detailed work schedule is compiled for every production component within a short time. PlanTool identifies scheduling conflicts based on priorities and necessary capacities over all on-going jobs. The clearly laid-out display of conflicts of all on-going projects means targeted and early reactions are possible. If the requirement is to change the deadline of a job, be it earlier or later, drag & drop is used to simply move the job in PlanTool.
All work steps with all dependencies are then rescheduled accordingly. The intelligent planning software is a major step in the right direction. But one thing is clear – it does not work without some human involvement. Manual interventions are required for conflicts in specific circumstances. The production and process knowledge of skilled workers is still called for here. Whilst skilled workers were previously only proficient in sub-processes in production, they will be growing increasingly into orchestrators of the entire value-add chain.