ERP, Excel, APS and MES – why we use the software and for what. ERP is corporate software and serves well for business processes. Excel is necessity to fill in caps of ERP in production planning and scheduling. According to Gartner (AMR Research) in 2000 some 60% of US companies were using Excel in planning. In IFS (Mint Jutras) study in 2011 over 75% of companies were using Excel. One could imagine the number of users would have reduced in more than ten years but instead it was growing. Reasons could be more complex and more customer driven production – and when it comes to software tools; most of the companies do not know much about APS and MES software.
APS (Advanced Planning & Scheduling) and MES (Manufacturing Execution System) software should be used instead of Excel, for production scheduling and planning – they are dedicated for that purpose. ERP customization combined with excel will lead only to small improvements. It’s like tuning a truck for an F1 race. APS on the other hand brings productivity improvements which are measered in tens of percentages – 50% improvement in lead times is typical value. .
Many times Excel is home grown and has strong internal support as the developers naturally support their own outcomes. But Excel is inefficient, slow, error-sensitive and opaque (not transparent). ERP technology, OLTP (On-Line-Transaction-Processing) at the same time does not allow planning with different scenarios. ERP does not either support for planning of supply chains over factory boundaries in global operations. A web-based, combined APS – MES solution is effective, fast in planning, accurate and transparent. The software also supports multi-site planning in global manufacturing.
According to ANSI/ISA 95 standard, ERP is for Operations Management (OM), and APS/MES is for Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM). ERP and MES are not competing with each other but complement each other. Stop tuning your truck for F1 – there are special cars and much, much faster for this.
Heikki Aalto, 10.5.2015