10 Myths on programming to finite capacity

For more than 20 years we have improved the production management of our customers’ factories. We know that behind a significant change in an organization there are always fears and doubts, and we are happy to tell you that for every question there is an answer.

If you are thinking of starting a project to digitize your production, surely you have already asked for information from different software providers, but how to differentiate the expert from “sell fumes”? What is true about the promises of manufacturers and implanters?

Whether you are currently planning with Excel spreadsheets, Outlook or your ERP, today we want to dismantle the myths surrounding finite capacity sequencing software, the famous APS. Let us begin:

finite capacity programming

1) My ERP can solve my programming problems (scheduling)

Unless your ERP comes with an APS installed, this statement is incorrect. Solving programming problems with the logic of a standard ERP or MRP is equivalent to trying to solve a three-dimensional problem with two-dimensional logic: it simply can not be done in a timely manner.

2) If I buy a programming software from my ERP provider, I will not have data integration problems

Although it may seem like a good idea, it is not. The reason is that few ERP providers have the necessary capacity to develop and implement their own advanced programming modules, in fact, they usually offer static modules with some options.

In cases where they have successfully integrated the APS into their offer (and this is not a fact), most ERP companies do not have the necessary skills to continue developing the APS software, nor to implement it properly.

This approach does not work in the APS world where you need to work at a level of detail that allows you to model the real world, otherwise your APS system will have no value for you.

3) Since I have so many changes, my programming is usually outdated before it is published

This is correct, because anyone can create a schedule once a week. The main benefit of a good programming system is that it can reflect priorities that always change, while providing information in real time. This is what allows to make intelligent and rapid decisions systematically. Being able to understand the cause and effect at high speed will differentiate you from your competition.

4) My planners know that our ERP software does not help them to sequence, so they have developed their own solution using Excel sheets

Once again, it seems a good idea (but it is not). The illusion that your Excel sheets give some control, is quickly dissipated by the amount of time necessary to maintain sequencing without any of the benefits of an APS system, such as a visual programming system, data integration simple, and the ability to use sequencing rules. If the programming does not reflect reality, your homegrown solution will not do you any good.

5) As we are implementing Lean concepts, my consultants tell me that we do not need software based on a sequencing system

Replacing the complex logic of an ERP with a Kanban and a manual system based on demand is very tempting, but it has its limitations. The reason is that manual systems do not give you the ability to plan according to your capacity constraints. This will be critical when deadlines and inventory are out of the equation. In general, an APS system will support your lean initiative.

6) APS systems are too expensive

This myth is true if you have a bad sequencing system that does not reflect your reality. Good APS systems can pay for themselves almost overnight and are able to increase your profits every year. And if you sell capacity, what other tools do you have to manage this process? If you do not manage it, you will find a very good way to lose your key customers.

7) I can implement my own sequencing system

Although there are some who can do it, you will need someone with a great knowledge about the manufacturing and the software that is being implemented. Ultimately, the success of the system depends on your ability to adapt the capabilities of the software to the needs of your business. Know what works and what can not save you a lot of money.

You will succeed if the implementation is done well and the schedule is closely linked to the processes and limitations of your business, so you have no need to take any risks.

8) My business is different from all others

Yes, this is almost certainly true and, although the basic concepts and root problems are always the same, the solutions will vary enormously. One of the advantages of a good sequencing system is that it can be easily adapted to meet your needs, so you do not have to change the way you do business to adapt to the system. The trick is to find someone who has the expertise to guide you through the process.

9) I do not want to keep my data in two systems

Of course, this is a valid concern. A good finite capacity programming system will have the ability to seamlessly integrate the data with your ERP, your data collection system in the workshop and any other system that shares data with your programming data, such as your purchasing system.

10) What happens when my needs change and I have made important changes? Will I be orphaned by newer versions of the programming software?

This is really a big question and the answer is that, unlike most ERP systems, the best programming systems are designed to be customized just like Excel. This means that updates to new versions can be implemented with minimal effort because complex changes can be made without changing the actual central system. If you have selected the correct APS system, updating to the latest version should not be more difficult than installing a newer version of Excel.


Have you felt identified in any of these points? Do you have more myths in mind that deserve to be demolished? And more importantly: From now on, how will you plan your production?


Source: “The Little Blue Book on Scheduling” by Mike Liddell

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