Boost Manufacturing Productivity Through Digital Solutions

Improving Access to Production Information

January 19, 2023

As McKinsey noted in a 2022 article: “Robust productivity performance remains one of the fundamental components of a healthy economy and broad-based prosperity.” When designing our digital manufacturing collaboration platform, Aspen Schedule ExplorerTM (ASE), one of the main goals was to help improve our clients’ employee productivity. We could achieve this by making information and conversations related to the production schedule and associated operations execution much more widely available to manufacturing stakeholders. The key to success was to ensure that untrained users would be able to learn how to use Aspen Schedule Explorer on their own; with little-to-no training.  

A Bevy of Productivity Success Stories 
Since first releasing this digital manufacturing collaboration platform four years ago, we have received enthusiastic feedback from scores of end-users. They have shared with us first-hand experiences of how ASE has contributed to increasing their productivity, decreasing delays and reducing bottlenecks. The most cited reason is how it enables them to quickly and easily access a wider range of manufacturing information related to the production schedule and operations execution compared to their typical Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Aspen Schedule Explorer — designed to work in conjunction with our market-leading production scheduling solution, Aspen Plant SchedulerTM—drives ongoing daily collaboration and alignment across a wide range of manufacturing personnel.  

A Chemicals Company Success Story
An ASE user, who works in manufacturing operations for a global specialty chemicals company, stated that he loves using it because “all of the schedule and manufacturing related information needed to do daily tasks are available at the user’s fingertips.”

He was new to the company and, as a part of his job, he needed to have access to the bill of materials for every batch scheduled to be produced that day. This was to ensure that the batches would be made correctly and on time. He shared with us that having the bill of materials information tied directly to an activity on the schedule in ASE was incredibly useful. He also enjoyed that all conversations and clarifications related to a particular batch to be manufactured are tied directly to the scheduled activity. Most importantly, he didn’t have to memorize numerous ERP table names and transaction codes to get data, in order to figure out what happened.

“Everything is so visual and intuitive in ASE. It makes it so easy for me to keep up to date on what is happening in manufacturing and what I need to do any given day.” 

Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) Company Success Story
At a Fortune 500 CPG company, our digital collaboration manufacturing platform is utilized by a Production Planner and his team to communicate information about extending capacity and moving orders related to the production schedule. This requires looking up information about their inventories along with the bills of materials for the affected products. Before they had ASE, the Production Planner needed to go into their ERP system to pull the relevant information. To collaborate within their team, they relied on exchanging this information via email with the goal of making sure they had enough inventory on-hand for the planned changes. This could be a lengthy process. The team needed to wait for the planner to send them the inventory information. The Production Planner then would wait while his team used that information to look up inventory levels and reply to him. This slowed down the entire process of implementing planned changes and meant that the team wasn’t always working with the most up-to-date information.  

Now, with ASE, everyone has the information they need. They are no longer reliant on a single person to send them data, thus enabling the entire team to do their jobs more efficiently and with greater visibility to the whole picture.  

“I simply need to put a comment on the affected scheduled activity, stating the planned change— everyone on my team has access to the bill of materials with a single click!” 

A Tool Designed for Manufacturing Operations Collaboration Makes a Big Difference
These stories highlight the ways in which easier access to vital information related to the production schedule and operations execution can be transformative for individuals and their teams –  whether they be in operations, scheduling and planning, procurement, or any of a number of different manufacturing-related roles.  

By adopting Aspen Schedule Explorer, they have taken their manufacturing processes to a new level and reported tremendous positive effects on their employee productivity. 

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