Composites Planning and Scheduling System
COMPASS is an Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) solution for composites manufacturers, providing a host of decision support features to assist in either planning or scheduling, or both. Using a finite-capacity Production Model, COMPASS captures your process to the precise level of detailed required (including autoclave batches, changeover rules, labour availability, etc.) to produce accurate and feasible schedules.
Designed to integrate with legacy and commercial ERP systems, COMPASS is a real-time support tool embedded with intelligent scheduling logic to take the guesswork out of schedule creation and production planning. See how COMPASS can help your organization achieve its planning and scheduling objectives today.
The Production Model lies at the heart of any COMPASS implementation. Developed using a discrete-event, finite-capacity platform, it details the physical workings of the plant including operating rules, product routings, process times, materials and resource requirements. Constraints such as lot sizing, resource shift patterns, batch constraints, travel/transfer times, and setup considerations are captured in the embedded data structure, resulting in schedules that are realistic at both the shop-floor and station level.
Furthermore, station and resource lists can be maintained by the plant manager through the built-in input screens to accommodate changes in plant capacity. This ease of scalability ensures that COMPASS customers retain full ownership and control over the system as their facility and operations continue to grow.
The Planning Module uses a backwards-looking process to establish approximate launch and due dates for new production orders while largely using the same constraints as the Production Model. COMPASS takes it a step further and uses the Production Model to then further refine the estimated launch/completion dates and to ensure plan feasibility. By linking directly to existing ERP systems, COMPASS automatically imports customer demand in the form of outstanding sales orders or forecasts and generates a list of new production orders with validated launch dates. Production orders approved by the Planning manager can be exported back into ERP, at which point the Scheduling Engine works on a day-to-day basis steering these orders towards their expected completion dates.
The benefits of this order planning approach include:
- Reduction of unnecessary WIP and finished goods inventories
- Automation of the re-planning process around scrapped or delayed parts
- Improvement in raw material requirement date estimates
COMPASS also features long-term capacity planning giving users the ability to experiment with production scenarios with greater efficiency and accuracy than can be captured using pen-and-paper machine hour calculations. This module gives access to define programs (including new products, bill of materials, and routings etc.) and resources (stations, workers, shift availability, etc.) in a closed, risk-free environment to prevent inadvertent changes to the daily scheduling results. This approach makes it easier to:
- Identify bottlenecks as a result of changes in forecasted demand and production mix
- Make decisions on new equipment purchases or proposed shift pattern changes
- Assess the feasibility of adding new product families
The Scheduling Engine makes use of the Production Model to generate feasible schedules and work flow sequences within departments and across the entire plant. Depending on system design, the Scheduling Engine may consider one or several objectives, at either the station or plant-wide level. Examples of scheduling goals could include:
- Maximize order due-date compliance
- Maximize throughput
- Minimize work-in-progress
- Maximize resource utilization
Both global and station-specific scheduling algorithms ensure that the overall scheduling objective for the facility is met. Station-specific scheduling features include Autoclave Batchmaking, a 3-dimensional bin packing heuristic that maximizes projected autoclave load sizes while considering cycle compatibility, tool dimensions, racking, material expiry, and order priority. As each plant is unique, the parameters considered by each of the scheduling algorithms may vary. However the overall approach focuses on synchronization and flow of work through the facility in order to achieve the best possible plant-wide schedule.
COMPASS can transfer data to and from almost any information system, often in real-time, and displays this information in one of many reports. An integrated APS system requires accurate and timely data both in order to generate schedules and KPI reports appropriate for current demand, as well as gathering system constraints such as planned maintenance and raw material availability. This level of connectivity allows COMPASS to monitor and respond to changing conditions in a production system as they happen.
While commercial information systems typically provide large amounts of valuable process data, most implementations do not possess detailed modeling and scheduling capabilities nor the ease-of-use of COMPASS. Important process details not stored on existing information systems (such autoclave cycles, skills matrices, batching rules, etc.) are stored within an application database as part of the COMPASS solution, and can be modified by the user through one of several intuitive input screens. This database resides on client servers located either locally at the plant or at a central administration facility.
COMPASS interfaces are designed based on our experience working directly with composites manufacturers, emphasizing delivery performance on both the individual part and shipset levels. Managers can quickly assess the health of their operations at a high level through dashboard interfaces. Modern features such as drag-and-drop, instant search, and multi-level grouping provide easy-to-use yet extremely powerful access to input parameters and reporting data. Customized reports can also be embedded within any COMPASS implementation in cases where the customer requires additional, specific reporting or enhancements to existing screens.
Some of the reports offered by COMPASS include:
- Expected shipset completion by manufacturing program
- Production Order management
- Interactive gantt charts and scheduling interfaces
- Operator and machine conformance to standard job processing times
- Department productivity and conformance to production plan
The system also provides support for simultaneous access by multiple users, with defined permissions by user name or role used to enable or disable features as required. This level of control streamlines facility-wide deployment, for example advanced users can modify and publish schedules for shop floor operator to see provided they have access to either a computer terminal or a printer.