Using the Right PCBA Planning Tool to Optimize Your Production Process and Maximize Available Resources

August 09, 2022
Factory intelligence analytics historical analysis

In this short article, we’ll cover how electronics manufacturers can leverage intelligent, dynamic, and advanced planning & scheduling tools to get better control over production. In the current market, all factories need to maximize available resources – and that includes employees as well as components.

Why should you use an Advanced Planning & Scheduling tool?

Even with the variety of proven, advanced, and relevant planning tools available to help PCBA manufacturers better plan and organize supply-chains, production schedules, and the overall manufacturing process, too many continue to rely on what’s comfortable and familiar: Excel. It’s not cutting it. We know this. And that’s not to bash Excel – it’s a great tool for certain functions, it just wasn’t developed for the complexities of modern PCBA manufacturing.

Given today’s global challenges – more specifically both component and labor shortages for electronics manufacturers – we must start looking beyond a static spreadsheet to address the numerous nuances and complications to achieving a smooth-running production operation. One of the key ingredients to a seamless manufacturing operation is a clear, adaptable, dynamic, and robust planning & scheduling tool.

Historically outside of Cogiscan’s scope, we recently added iTAC Software AG's Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS)
product to our portfolio because we saw the need for an intelligent and dynamic tool from so many of our current clients.

The APS tool considers multiple requirements in the planning process – including on-time delivery, available resources, current demand, cost considerations – and based on user input, will then put together the ideal plan and schedule weighting what the user deems as most important – whether that’s on-time delivery or available employee resources.

Easing the pain of Allocation for electronics manufacturers

And since plans are apt to change, especially given the current challenges related to component allocation and extended supply-chain lead times, the Advanced Planning & Scheduling tool will update the schedule in real-time if a critical component doesn’t show up when it was originally planned to do so.

Users can get creative and play with different options to plan out potential ways to get production going even without all the materials – maybe cutting the job in half based on available material and running that order through to the testing process and then holding the units at mechanical assembly until the rest of the order is ready to be built when the remaining material is in-house.

Screenshot from the Gantt-Chart view within APS

The human element of a PCBA

We’re all feeling the pain of the global staffing crisis – whether it’s something minor like your local coffee shop closes earlier than expected when you really need that afternoon pick-me-up, or a positive COVID-19 employee infects all the staff assigned to your rework and repair department – it has disrupted our lives in one way or another.

The APS tool takes into consideration all resources needed for the production of a PCBA, not just machinery and materials, and will consider employee availability when putting together the production schedule. Due to the dynamic, real-time nature of the Advanced Planning & Scheduling tool, users can re-run the schedule if staffing availability changes last minute.

Taking it one step further, the APS tool even takes staff training into consideration – say you’re manufacturing an aerospace product that requires the repair technician to have a specific certification, you can make sure to heavily weight that technician’s availability into the plan and schedule for that job.

Screenshot from the Multi-Resource Planning view within APS


These are just two of the many examples of how the APS, or any other dynamic, intelligent, and modular advanced planning tool, can help modern electronics manufacturers take better control over production based on what’s actually available in the moment.

Eager to hear the other benefits to leaving Excel behind for your manufacturing planning – speak with one of our experts today!

Interested? Contact one of our experts today!

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