Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) software empowers businesses to optimize their manufacturing processes by efficiently allocating resources and synchronizing production workflows. Utilizing sophisticated algorithms, APS solutions enhance operational visibility, improve on-time delivery, and minimize waste, ultimately boosting profitability and competitiveness.
We’ve examined 20+ providers across 7 metrics to rank the best APS software. Our ratings take into account factors such usability, support, scalability, security, value, performance, and the range of features offered. All ratings are determined solely by us, enabling you to make the most informed decisions for your business’s needs.
1 TACTIC - Best Overall
TACTIC is APS software that you can use in conjunction with your existing ERP/MRP system to improve competetiveness in your business’s operations. Features include automated scheduling, capacity planning, material requirements planning, and everything your company needs to improve inventory, supply costs, and customer service.
2 FEDRA - Also Great
FEDRA is a platform-based APS software developed by MPDV. Features include energy demand planning, predictive material planning, integrated workforce planning, and workforce planning. Advanced analytics tools allow users to execute predictive and quality analysis to assist with production planning. FEDRA is best suited to medical device manufacturers, automotive manufacturers, food processing, furniture manufacturing and more.
3 Kinetic - Best End-to-End Solution
Kinetic is an ERP solution created for manufacturing businesses and includes advanced planning and scheduling tools. This is the perfect solution for companies that need an all-in-one software to manage manufacturing operations with minimal interruptions. Kinetic offers all of the features you would come to expect from a standalone APS software with the added benefit of it being a feature built into your business’s ERP.
What Is Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software?
Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software helps manufacturers designate raw materials and production capacity to balance demand and plant capacity to their most optimal fulfillment level. APS software will plan and schedule production based on available materials, labor, and plant capacity. The solutions track the costs involved in the production process, measures overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and improve material requirements planning (MRP).
APS software creates optimal production schedules while minimizing downtime and errors. Visual schedules and GANTT charts can give a view of your entire production planning process, which identifies the best start times, the best machines to use, and the availability of workers, tools, and sub-assemblies.
APS software coordinates a manufacturer’s sales, production, purchasing, and transportation. Companies can calculate demand, monitor raw material availability, create production schedules based on this demand and any constraints they have, optimize their production schedules within their resource availability constraints, and fluctuate production plans and schedules based on demand.
The planning part of APS software looks at the long-term while the scheduling part of APS software looks at the short-term.
- Planning aggregates the forecast and the supply while putting them into time slots. The objective is to determine what to make or produce in each time slot, how to make it, and how much to make.
- Scheduling sequences the jobs and creates a list that is released to the shop floor while honoring any and all constraints.
Features of APS Software
- Demand Planning: Collects historical data on order volumes and inventory turns while mixing it with continually updated forecasts from separate units of the business (primarily sales, marketing, and operations) to make more informed supply chain decisions.
- Production Scheduling: Generate resource and material constrained schedules. Determines the need for materials and capacity in order to complete a manufacturing production order. Includes drag and drop capabilities for “what-if” analysis.
- Constraint Management: Includes visual identification of activities that are delayed due to resource capacity and/or material availability limits (capacity and material bottlenecks).
- Order Management: Captures, tracks, and fulfills orders across multiple sales channels by connecting inventory and sales orders, creating shipping schedules, tracking fulfillment, and creating reports. Includes alerts, pegging views, statuses, and watches.
- KPIs: Includes impact analysis and analytics surrounding your order management, capacity, productivity, and financial commitments.
Benefits of Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software
Advanced planning and scheduling software solves the issues of:
- Late deliveries due to manufacturing delays
- Missed sales due to demand exceeding capacity
- Lost orders due to excessive work-in-process
- High production costs due to machine ineffectiveness (such as downtime)
- Excessive overhead due to managing scheduling changes and the impact on delivery schedule
- Difficult to plan for future capacity requirements
The more resources you have to manage, the more overwhelming the planning and scheduling process becomes. Each business will have different ideas of what benefits they want out of an advanced planning and scheduling software. In reading some of the top benefits of APS software, businesses should find out how flexible the solution needs to be (does it need to be rigid with predefined features, or can you live without some benefits while you address key concerns?).
Improve Your Manufacturing Process with APS Software
Advanced planning and scheduling software will help you generate manufacturing orders or purchase orders in order to satisfy your demand. This goes hand in hand with creating production and purchase plans to ensure you can meet any current or anticipated demand.
APS software will also provide better visibility into your inventory. Visual charts and inventory grids can help identify shortages in your inventory which can alert staff to reorder or even trigger an automatic reorder point. Likewise, excess inventory can be recorded and given proper attention.
Inventory planning can let you search for adjustments with items, item quantity, total supply, final quantity, and whether or not those items are being used by any MRP system.
Support Important Managerial Decision Making
Advanced planning and scheduling solutions are used by managers to better improve their decision making when it comes to production demands, production sequences, and any predicted changes in production. APS software helps your business react to real-time production efficiency changes or the impact that changes in your scheduling may have on your business.
Examples include machine breakdown or parts being scrapped. Advanced scheduling supports what-if scenarios such as:
- “What is the cost of accepting an urgent order?”
- “Will prioritizing a new urgent order hurt our completion time for other pending orders?”
- “Can we afford to pay our employees overtime to complete this job?”
- “When can we move a machine into a maintenance stage without slowing down production?”
APS software will help you see the true effect of each scenario. Most solutions will be able to provide a dashboard or KPIs that can help visually show managers the effect their decisions will have.
Integrate Your Operations With ERP, MES, and Supply Chain Systems
Advanced planning and scheduling systems are a great addition to existing manufacturing software environments. They help aid in managing your manufacturing processes that are usually performed by one or multiple:
Integration wizards are included in a few APS solutions. Other times, an APS software vendor may specialize in integrating their solution with a specific ERP or MES. The biggest benefit of having complete integration with other business management systems is to have a complete view of your operations.
Anytime you receive new sales orders, hire new workers, or purchase new machines, businesses will want to avoid duplicate entry or having to transfer data from one system to another. Businesses will want a system that can seamlessly transfer data from the planning and scheduling phase into their ERP solution.
Production Planning with APS Software
Proper production planning will utilize the resource allocation of employees, materials, and capacity to ensure the wants and needs of all customers can be met. A production planning module in APS software has the goal of determining the required product mix, matching the desired production level to existing resources, scheduling the work, and creating orders for your employees and facilities to follow.
Once orders have been planned, production starts. However, urgent requests or rushes may come through which can throw a wrench into your original production plan. How will you meet your existing deadlines? How can we avoid the costs involved with late deliveries? How do we schedule new urgent orders with confidence?
Proper production planning with APS software can avoid these headaches by ensuring a smooth production order processing, reliable planning and delivery dates, and optimized costs and resource utilization. APS software will let you plan orders based on current production stages while maximizes the throughput to ensure all orders are delivered on time.
MRP Improvements with APS Software
Material requirements planning, or MRP software, helps streamline the manufacturing process through production planning, scheduling, and inventory control. Similar to APS software, MRP also aids in inventory and production schedules to produce products and complete manufacturing jobs. An MRP system determines which assemblies must be built, what materials must be purchased, and the order in which to build products to meet customer due dates.
APS software can be thought of as an enhancement to an MRP process. The information that goes into APS software includes your forecast, your stock levels, and your sales orders. You also need to include your resource capabilities and your target stock levels defined by stock-keeping units (SKUs). The output in APS software is an achievable production load for the desired product.
When your forecast for shipments exceeds your capacity, you must change the scheduled production, or move the production to another area or facility that can meet production within any time constraints. To determine the best movement for your production, you’ll need software that can handle “what if” scenarios, which will let you find the best fit with no capacity issues.
In comparison to MRP software, APS software can increase throughput while reducing work in process and your raw material inventory.
Production Scheduling Software vs. APS Software
The biggest difference between production scheduling software and advanced planning and scheduling software is in the name. Both options will be able to provide near-identical functionality but are likely being marketed under different terms.
Other synonyms for the software include production planning software and advanced production scheduling software. Some argue that production scheduling is just one of the many features included within APS software, which implies that APS software is (as the name implies) an advanced version of production scheduling software.
At their core, both production scheduling software and APS software will have the capability to upload a number of orders that need to be processed according to specific operations and specific product routings. Both systems will be able to create a schedule that can be viewed in various ways but typically viewed as a GANTT chart. These charts will detail how production of orders will take place across different processes.
In many cases, the end-user can modify the production schedule and use various “what-if” scenarios to play around with different situations on the production floor. In addition to calculating material consumption, APS systems can prevent the scheduling of production orders after any material has run out, as well as automatically generate supply orders once any material has partially run out.