Aerospace and Defense : Scheduling processes and finite capacity planning tool

How to improve customer service by re-engineering the planning process and implementing a finite capacity planning tool?
Case study
07/16/2015

Assignement context and objective

Faced with the substantial growth of its business, this regular customer of Argon Consulting, a leader in the aerospace industry, needed to significantly improve the control of its production management processes.
Their goal was to identify and deploy the means required to meet customer deadlines, while making optimal use of their human and material production resources.
A new planning framework was necessary. The site management decided that this change could not be made without overhauling the processes and without implementing a finite capacity planning tool.

Approach and methodology

To begin with, in just a few weeks, Argon Consulting diagnosed the practices together with the key players from Production, Supply Chain, Marketing and Manufacturing. The main points covered by the diagnostic were :

  • Measurement of the performance of the current processes and any gaps with best practices
  • The identification of the impact and the feasibility of the implementation of a finite capacity planning tool on the existing organization and information systems
  • The identification of the impacts of the deployment of a new planning system, in terms of change management and needs for support
  • Construction of an implementation project plan : project team, internal and external contributors, key milestones and control mechanisms

The main points covered by the diagnostic were : a forecasting process that is insufficient for medium-term production purposes, a lack of knowledge and command of critical resources, management focused on the short term and not enough on the medium term, failure to take sufficient account of available supplies when issuing WOs, incomplete technical data (no machine times in the procedures), multiple monitoring systems.

A production process prototype was developed with a publisher of finite capacity planning and production scheduling solutions. Further to the process diagnostic, this prototype allowed us to:

  • Demonstrate the relevance of planning with constraints
  • Persuade management of the feasibility and the relevance of the initiative, despite the significant number of constraints to be modeled in the production process

The site approved the recommendations made by Argon Consulting: implementation of a 6-month change process covering mainly:

  • The re-engineering of business processes for forecasting, tactical and operational planning and the management of technical production data
  • The collection or production of technical manufacturing data
  • The implementation of a planning tool with constraints
  • Support in business change management

The deployment was organized around three projects :

  • The information system and interfaces, and data preparation
  • Overhaul of the business processes
  • Change control and management

Results

The transformation of site planning processes and tools enabled the site to professionalize its practices and to federate the different players around coherent data, rather than the previous individual monitoring processes.
The planning unit and the management team now have reliable information on the overload of critical means of production (personnel and equipment), which enables them to:

  • Validate the deadlines proposed to customers
  • Anticipate peaks in workload, identify medium- and short-term room for maneuver and better anticipate capital outlay needs
  • Better manage imponderables resulting from customer priorities

“Argon Consulting helped us to get to the essential point and to finally reap the rewards of finite capacity planning. Their consultants were determined to understand the specifics of our production processes and they were prepared to cooperate closely with our staff. This was the key factor in the success of the project.”