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Posted February 24 2022
Written by Mathieu Gagnon

Operations Planning 4.0: APS Empowering Performance

The growing pressure exerted on supply chains forces each link of the chain to modernize in order to remain competitive. Fortunately, the implementation of new Industry 4.0 applications enabled logistic functions to adapt using modern tools such as warehouse management systems (WMS) for distribution centers, transport management systems (TMS), and—more recently—advanced planning and scheduling systems (APS).

What is an APS?

APS are decision-making tools that work jointly with an enterprise resource planning system (ERP) to generate optimized planning solutions. These tools, such as DELMIA Ortems, were introduced to make sure organizations have the plan that best suits their needs, while taking into account production constraints.

DELMIA Ortems, from software publisher Dassault Systems, is an APS that can plan and model production constraints to cover needs ranging from long-term planning to fine capacity scheduling on the production floor, all while meeting the requirements of the organization.

Should Planning Be Done via ERP or Ortems?

The majority of companies already have an ERP system boasting material requirements planning (MRP) functions to meet planning needs, but these tools are mainly used in an infinite capacity model. It’s in such a context that Ortems really shines and allows for a migration to finite capacity scheduling, with algorithms that take account of the various planning constraints specific to each organization.

However, the role of the APS is not to replace ERPs, but to complete them by implementing decision-making functions. In that sense, APS work jointly with MRP systems to optimize planning, ensure maximum use of resources, and manage the update of work order dates in ERPs.

Finite Capacity Planning

Finite capacity planning is instrumental in an efficient planning process. The main challenge revolves around the fact that a plan can only be viable if all the resources necessary for its achievement are available at the expected time. Ortems is called upon working in finite capacity to meet this need, all while abiding by the actual capacity of multiple, simultaneous constraints such as:

  • Machine/work center availability
  • Labor availability
  • Specialized tools
  • Production and maintenance schedule
  • Variable adjustment times depending on the sequence
  • Machine capacity depending on the period
  • Machine/work center performance
  • Materials

1_Planification en capacité finie_Planification opérationnelle 4.0 - la performance grâce aux APS_Createch

Shifting Bottleneck Management via Ortems

Managing shifting bottlenecks is a major planning problem; it is hard to deal with them using traditional methods and tools (e.g., MRP systems and Excel components). It is as though the planner is forced into a domino effect where moving a production operation only shifts the bottleneck to another point without actually solving the problem.

2.Ortems pour gérer des goulots changeants_Planification opérationnelle 4.0 - la performance grâce aux APS_Createch_EN

APS can easily solve these issues. Ortems can generate a plan based on shifting bottlenecks: labor shortage, machine unavailability, limited resources, etc.

Planning via Algorithms

An APS can plan using algorithms that manage the remarkable volumetrics required to position each operation in an optimal way, in a plan spanning several weeks or months.

A planner that needs to deal with thousands of operations has no other choice than to handle only critical situations. However, Ortems runs using algorithms that helps in the planning of each operation individually. These algorithms cover fine scheduling and load leveling needs, and can be adjusted according to each organization’s priorities and realities.

Planning via Algorithms_Operations Planning 4.0: APS Empowering Performance_Createch

Load Leveling

Ortem’s load leveling algorithm can prioritize production operations (e.g., by expected date, customer priority, forecasts, etc.). The goal of the software is to generate a sustainable finite capacity plan for a given time horizon ranging from a few hours to several months.


On the other hand, Ortem’s scheduling algorithm can generate a plan to overcome the production constraints that will have a major impact on performance and profitability (exchange of die time, work in progress inventory, deadline compliance).

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Gantt Planning to Review and Adjust the Plan

Albeit difficult to manage without the right tools, planning with a Gantt diagram has always had the advantage of providing simple, intelligible visuals. Ortems can look for the missing visual references in several ERPs, and find the tools required to adjust the plan. Thanks to the following features, the handling of data is made fairly easy for the planner:

  • Convenient visualization of the cause-effect relationships generated by the moving of operations
  • Moving of operations on machines using drag-and-drop
  • Identification of the critical path of an order
  • Work order indicators with delay and reason for delay
  • Lack of material indicators
  • Relationships between work orders

3.La planification en Gantt pour visualiser et rectifier le plan_Planification opérationnelle 4.0 - la performance grâce aux APS_Createch

Simulating Planning Scenarios

Unlike traditional ERPs, which perform in single, fixed environments, APS have the significant advantage of simulating various planning scenarios. Planning simulations can help solve various questions such as:

  • Should we work overtime?
  • What period works best for the maintenance of a given machine?
  • Should we close the plant during holiday periods, or operate at reduced capacity? Can we close a department without creating delays?

Solutions such as Ortems help the planner to generate a variety of simulations, and to record them without affecting the data in the ERP system, all while remaining in a separate, parallel environment.

4_Simulation de scénarios de planification_Planification opérationnelle 4.0 - la performance grâce aux APS_Createch

Performance analysis tools can then assess the KPIs of the different scenarios examined, and help in choosing the scenario that best suits the organization’s needs. The plan is only accepted when it is deemed satisfactory by the planner. Ortems then changes the dates in the ERP system.

5_Simulation de scénarios de planification_Planification opérationnelle 4.0 - la performance grâce aux APS_Createch

Eliminate Siloed Planning

The lack of integrated tools in organizations often leads to siloed planning where each department aims to meet local rather than overall performance goals, with the resulting consequences:

  • Lack of work in a given department
  • Production lot too large to optimize planning
  • Delayed deliveries caused by a lack of synchronization between departments or production steps

Unfortunately, optimizing each service individually seldom generates an effective plan since it does not take account of the entire chain and external factors.

Ortems can generate a scheduling to ensure the performance of each department, and the achievement of the organization’s overall goals that are not necessarily visible by production-related resources (inventory levels, service levels, optimization of costly exchanges of die, etc.).

Collaborative Planning

Production floors are dynamic environments with several variables. Collaboration between many stakeholders is often required to establish an effective planning.

In that matter, Ortems allows for a collaborative planning where several users can simultaneously work on the same plan to resolve unexpected issues such as machine failure, decrease in capacity, production delays, etc.


In the end, manufacturing companies are exposed to an increasing number of planning constraints. Rapid adaptation is of the essence when facing the vagaries of supply chains.

Fortunately, Ortems can help you regain control of your planning processes to promote a proactive management of your supply chain.

Contact us if you wish to learn more about this solution!

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