New areas of application for Qualicision® technology

Optimisation for the process industry

The Qualicision® product family portfolio has grown recently through the addition of the production planning system PSIaps, and the staff planning system PSIpep. These solutions are based on reference applications used in the chemicals and pharmaceutical industry and offer comprehensive optimisation and simulation facilities for the process industry, thereby enabling the planner to implement an automated KPI-oriented process optimisation. Interactive planning tables and a comprehensive reporting system round off the portfolio.

Planners responsible for planning and controlling production processes in the process industry face significant challenges. Consider, for instance, some of the complex formulas used in the production of active medical substances or special chemicals. Alternative bills of materials and the cyclic use of by-products are by no means rare occurrences. It soon becomes apparent that only the targeted use of efficient planning and optimisation software allows the planner to determine feasible start solutions in consideration of all technical restrictions and constraints and followed by an optimisation process with regard to different key performance indicators (KPIs).

It is not uncommon for the various indicators to be contradictory in practice. Think about factors such as efficient machine utilisation versus on-time delivery for individual orders, or also the tradeoff between the cost of changeovers and storage associated with batch size optimisation. A holistic modelling approach, such as the one realized in PSIaps, can help.


Dr. Tobias Gerken
Manager Key Accounts
Planning and Process Optimisation
F/L/S Fuzzy Logik Systeme GmbH, Munich,

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Holistic and flexible production planning

PSIaps allows forward-looking planning and optimisation of production and logistics processes along the entire intercompany value chain. The abbreviation aps stands for Advanced Planning and Scheduling, a name befitting the design of the module as it is intended to determine practicable production plans, even for the complex process constellations that often occur in practice. Industry- specific optimisation techniques allow planning times to be minimised, resource consumption to be reduced and the utilisation of equipment to be optimised. The approach is always holistic, taking into account all restrictions and conditions.

Optimised planning in the process industry.

To this end, the relevant value chain information is mapped from BOMs through production alternatives, setup times and operating time models to detailed cost models. All relevant cost factors, such as production costs, material costs, changeover and storage costs, transport costs or penalties for delays are taken into consideration. Modelling with PSIaps supports all multi-stage production processes. It also enables products whose production comprises many process steps to be realistically mapped and successfully optimised. Based on an integrated data model, PSIaps has interfaces to the ERP world. Modelling is a one-off process, whilst data synchronisation in day-today business occurs on a continuous basis. All-in-all, the module accompanies the full planning cycle from sales and capacity planning to detailed planning and scheduling.

Production planning from a strategic and operational perspective: from capacity planning to detailed planning

Long-term and medium-term planning are an integral part of the planning tasks in the production environment of the process industry. This is because they determine the long-term structural conditions for cleverly exploiting consolidation effects, as well as reaching decisions on inventory management and achievable service levels. The time period to which these considerations apply often covers several months or even years. PSIaps is ideal for calculating the best possible assignments of product lines to plants or local facilities, whereby site-specific sales forecasts and logistical restrictions are taken into account in the long term. Long-term capacity requirements can also be determined, for instance by comparing seasonal shift frequencies with the anticipated inventory flow. It also enables the verification of corresponding strategies for the range of coverage. Very often it is necessary to compare these and other related issues ad-hoc in example simulations in order to make the right longterm decisions on the basis of a quantitatively accurate evaluation.

PSIaps—a companion throughout the entire planning cycle.

In addition, PSIaps offers a range of functions for the optimisation of short-term, daily or weekly production planning and production control. This can be performed both for rough production and campaign planning with a mid-term horizon as well as for the short-term focus of detailed production planning. Both planning levels can be linked, as the use of the PSIaps ensures data and model integrity and enables links. The plan obtained is visualized in the form of a Gantt chart; the PSIaps Visual Planning Assistant allows interactive intervention in the planning process and visualizes the process flow according to the desired level of detail. Extensive tabular and graphical analyses for each scenario provide transparency with regard to costs, resource utilisation and inventory flow. Thus, all planning information required for organizing day-to-day business is available.

Depending on the planning horizon, the input variables for planning can come from the pipeline of customer orders or forecast data or, quite often, a combination of both, as well as inventory data and planned deliveries of raw materials. Data is collected via a web client that enables in particular distributed teams from purchasing and production to feed in data from different sites around the world into a central planning process. Statistical functions that allow an interpolation on the basis of historical developments are also available to the planner for forecasting purposes. Last but not least, status confirmations from current production also flows into the model.

This is the only way to ensure that the basic conditions for scheduling new orders are set correctly. Advanced concepts such as Available-to-Promise and Vendor Managed Inventory are supported. PSIaps ensures that inventory and demand are always well-balanced—at the lowest possible cost.

The availability of qualified personnel for individual process steps is a significant factor in the determination of feasible production schedules. Initially, planning may still be anonymous and only consider the number of employees available at any given time. The second step comprises the concrete assignment of employees to process stations. Modern software again supports the planners dealing with this task by making appropriate planning proposals based on availability, qualifications and cost factors.

Resource efficiency and demographic change—challenges in staff planning

Resource efficiency and demographic change currently count among the main challenges to be addressed in intralogistics and production. Against this background, a comprehensive staff management is becoming increasingly more important in the process industry as well. The forward-looking, demand-based staff planning of the PSIpep software enables a far-reaching automation of staff planning processes—both for short-term planning on a daily basis as well as for long-term, utilisation-based strategic budget and capacity planning.

PSIpep—strategic and operational staff planning.

The efficient use of internal and external staff is based firstly on the workload and, secondly, on the specific utilisation of individual employees. Making the best use of existing staff resources, means avoiding bottlenecks and reducing excess capacity. Operational staff deployment planning is based on previously determined staff requirements that specify the required staff capacities for all time units and workspaces. It is converted to individual employees and shifts and is therefore used mainly by shift supervisors and team leaders. Comparing the required staff capacities, e. g. on the basis of feedback from production and incoming orders with the associassociated activities, against the available employee resources creates transparency for planning and therefore allows the early detection of potential bottlenecks, congestion and even idle times.

Medium- and long-term plans are of importance not only for machinery and inventory planning. In particular, forward- looking staff planning as part of management and controlling focuses on long-term budget and capacity planning with a planning horizon based on quarterly or fiscal year requirements. This is based on forecasts for future demand which in turn are based on various sources of information such as projected planned sales or marketing figures or seasonal campaigns. Requirements for external staff can be determined by comparing the available staff resources with forecasts for future demand. Recurring shortages of specific skills can lead to the introduction of recruitment or training measures at an early stage.

The PSIpep and PSIaps solutions described here give the planner powerful tools that enable him to determine and evaluate viable alternatives for the respective planning task at any time and thus derive the best plan for the underlying process.