MES and APS: separate or united?

APS, Advanced Planning & Scheduling, is own software category like ERP or MES. APS covers strategic, tactical and operational planning. The last, operational use case, is many times seen as the core of APS. Here planning is daily based finite capacity planning and scheduling. Target is to produce feasible plans to minimize excessive inventories and cut down radically order lead times. There are plenty of APS systems providers you may find by googling: type e.g. Advanced Planning and Scheduling software. The main competitor of APS is what else - corporate own precious Excel. 

MES, on the other hand is for executing, controlling and monitoring. There are MES software without any planning functionality and then there are MES software which has finite capacity scheduling functionality. The functionality is not that rich as with pure APS software. In yearly "MES Product Survey" by CGI the proportion of FCS functionality with MES software is increasing. As MES is transactional software, it will be quite challenging to implement all rich planning features within MES context. Planning and scheduling requires simulations of different scenarios and should not automatically effect to execution. 

When integrating MES and APS systems tightly together (close loop) will open up the gate way to truth "Real-Time Enterprise". All rich APS functionalities are in use without any limitations. If APS system supports multi-site planning and industrial internet, the whole supply chain can be planned, executed and monitored with real-time fashion - globally without geographical restrictions. An example: when operation (work phase) in China is started a planner in US can see in real-time progressing of an order. Also a salesman can log in the MES/APS application via internet and browse when an order will be shipped to her/his customer - no phone calls, no emails. Note: salesman can't plan of course. This is restricted by role-based attributes.

Read the discussion at LinkedIn.

Heikki Aalto, 03.06.2015