Scheduling software that reflects reality
APCI has developed the Virtually Exhaustive Combinatorial System (VirtECS) to help manage resources over a timeline. The VirtECS timeline focus provides a direct, goal-oriented way of organizing business data. VirtECS has capabilities to address the past, present, and future portions of the timeline.
Detailed virtual process models that allow you to quickly try what-ifs with confidence.
Manage your process or plant by exploring process changes, minimizing cost, reducing labor, maximizing customer service, or any objective important to your business.
VirtECS Scheduler projects are structured so that you do not pay for the software until you know it works.
Process scheduling really is all about the constraints
- Equipment Allocation – Equipment can only run one task at a time.
- Material Balances – Materials must be produced or purchase before they are used.
- Transitions – Processing and storage equipment must sometimes be cleaned between tasks.
- Resources – Labor and other limited resources must be available to execute tasks.
- Storage – Intermediate liquids and powders must reside in a vessel.
- Material Hold Times – Some materials are subject to minimum or maximum hold times.
- Purchase Material Availability – Materials with long lead times can limit feasible production.
- Auxiliary Equipment – Some tasks require multiple pieces of equipment.
- Co-Production – Sometimes products are made in sets of co-products by single tasks.
- Multiple Recipes – Products sometimes have several possible alternative recipes.
- Batch Integrity – Inability to combine multiple batches of certain products.
- Flushing of “tails” – Material left over in tanks may need to be flushed before the tank can be used again.
None of these are trivial to enforce and all of them can be critical to producing truly feasible schedules that can be executed in real world processes. Enforcing all necessary constraints in concert is what automated process scheduling is all about.
APCI’s specialty is dealing with these, often inconvenient, details.
Finite Capacity Scheduling
VirtECS Scheduler projects are structured to play out in a series of well-defined manageable steps, each with clearly understood costs and goals.
- Develop process model
- Work closely with customer to ensure detailed model validity
- Fine tune optimization algorithm to improve schedule quality
- Deliver initial version of tool suitable for process analysis
- Determine methodology for live plant scheduling (e.g. tracking in-plant inventories)
- Deliver final version of tool for live scheduling
- Train users
Discovery - Charting the Path To Success
Our experience through many projects has shown that successful implementations depend upon a mutual understanding of value proposition, business and tool usage workflows, and process complexity and constraints. Each VirtECS implementation begins with a Discovery project. We work with our customers to characterize their manufacturing process, identify data sources, and develop and demonstrate an initial VirtECS process model and use cases.
The benefits of a Discovery project are substantial:
- Customers are able to verify the capabilities of VirtECS on their process and with their data
- Customers develop a good understanding of VirtECS usage and can map their new business workflows
- A phased approach for implementation is developed, aimed at minimizing the time required for initial roll-out and value creation to begin
- The customer has the opportunity to work with the APCI team to develop technical specifications that best meet their needs in the event that VirtECS capability must be extended to meet a unique requirement
- Based on learnings from the Discovery project, tool scope and requirements may be changed before cost is committed
- Having established data sources and evaluated the manufacturing process characteristics, APCI is able to provide a more accurate project budget and savings for the customer
- The effort to organize process data and build the initial process model is directly applicable to the full implementation project…there is no loss of efficiency
A Discovery project is the fast and effective way to get an implementation off to a great start and ensure success.