AX How To: Setup MRP in the New Dynamics AX for a High Volume Multi-shift Product Environment

Since the release of Dynamics AX 2012, Microsoft has made it easier for high volume manufacturing companies to configure their ERP, helping to ease the pains of companies that have multiple lines able to produce a single product, with multiple shifts. As we all know there are many ways to configure Dynamics AX to solve business issues. Today, I will talk about a fictional manufacturing company with several pain points that we will help solve by simply changing some basic setups in Dynamics AX 2012 or the new Dynamics AX (AX 7).

Our fictional company produces a high volume of products that can be assembled on multiple product lines with only a 3 day lead time from order to shipment. This company operates around the clock to meet the demand. The company has several pain points they would like solved:
  • They do not want planners manually moving hundreds of orders due to capacity issues.
  • They do not want order quantity to exceed a single machine’s run rate in a day.
  • The do not want to fully schedule each shift in order to allow for expedited orders.
  • They DO want orders out the door ASAP instead of just in time.
Let’s look how Dynamics AX 2012 and AX 7 can help this manufacturing company solve their four main issues listed above:

Capacity issues: Due to the high volume of orders and quantities produced by the company daily, the production planner does not have time to run MRP in an infinite capacity model. All customers want their product within 3 days or less, so the first step would be to enable finite scheduling on the resource group/resources. This will load the resource to the desired capacity and move the next orders to the next day/shift. (I’ll talk about this later.)

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Production order quantity exceeds capacity in a single day: This can be solved a few ways depending on the full requirements but here are a few suggestions:
  • Create a maximum order quantity for the item on the release product table: This will create multiple production orders for a single line of demand. For example, run capacity of resource A is 1000 units a shift and the sales order line quantity was for 2500. This will create 3 planned production orders, 2 order for 1000 units, and 1 order for 500 units.
  • Create multiple routings: Create multiple routings based on quantity to help the MRP engine schedule the correct quantity to the slower machines and the correct orders to the quicker machines. (This will be used in conjunction with capabilities.)
  • Use Capability functionality in the Routes: With the release of Dynamics AX 2012 which is also included in AX 7, there is a feature called ‘capability’ on the resource and routings. At the resource level, you can define its capabilities. Prior releases of Dynamics AX only allowed users to create Routes with defined resources or resource groups. This means if those resources were at capacity it was up to the production planner to manually offload that work to an alternative resource to get the job done on time. With capabilities you can have multiple resources with the same capability as well as a single resource with multiple capabilities. Each capability can also have a ‘skill’ level and priority associated. When creating your route for the item, instead of associating an operation to a discrete resource or resource group you can define a capability. This logic will allow Dynamics AX to automatically offload work to alternative resources without manual intervention.
    • i. Example – You have a total of 8 resources. Of those 8 resources, 3 can polish and 5 can assemble. Of those 5 that normally assemble, 2 can also polish but at a slower and less skill level pace.
    • ii. Under organizational administration>resources you can define those resources with all the capabilities, skills and priorities so that MRP can automatically schedule work.

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Allow for expedited orders: The concept of multiple shifts for production and MRP logic is not fully baked yet. However, there is a workaround that can help with open capacity per shift. With the expansion of Calendars in Dynamics AX 2012, which was carried over to AX 7, we can now have a unique calendar for each resource. This calendar can have the working times loaded. This has a limitation of Dynamics AX, as the calendars don’t have shift logic. If you put 24 hours on your calendar, then MRP will load up shift 1 to capacity before loading up shift 2. With the following workaround we can help reduce this issue: You create a unique resource per shift. For example, if you had a saw that was a 24 hour resource – you would create 3 record for that resource. Saw shift 1, Saw shift 2 and Saw shift 3. Each resource would have a unique calendar with its working times. You would then put in the capabilities of that resource as well as the priorities and reduce the operations scheduling percentage to allow for expedited orders. If you don’t create these 3 resources then the open capacity will always be on shift 3 as the calendar will leave the open percentage at the end of the shift.

Getting orders out the door ASAP: Currently, Dynamics AX (both 2012 and the new AX) scheduling direction defaults to ‘backward from delivery date’. This was done to help with the speed of the MRP generation. The ‘backward from delivery date’ scheduling takes your delivery date and starts scheduling your order backwards. Once the scheduling engine hits the current date, it flips to forward scheduling.

Normally this would not be an issue, but when you have finite checked on your resource there is an issue with the dates on the operations. If you have a 3 step routing and the engine on step 2 switches from backwards to forward you will get a 7 day gap in the operation scheduling detail. To solve this you must do forward scheduling. However, for companies that want to do forward scheduling you need to manually schedule each order and chose from many of the scheduling directions (forward from today as example). This can be a huge burden on companies that have hundreds of production orders a day.

There is good news. If you want multiple shifts, forward scheduling and a graphical scheduling ability to easily view capacity by shift, offload by group or resource without all the above work you may be interested in Hitachi AX for Planning and Scheduling. This product was developed for companies like our fictional company to help the production planner work on exceptions and issues instead of manually scheduling orders and changing dates to move and offload orders MRP couldn’t.

Hitachi AX for Planning and Scheduling:
  • Will allow you to simulate and do “what if” schedule planning
  • Will give your planners a visual representation of what is happening on the shop floor
  • Will allow you to manage shifting priorities
  • Will allow you to level resources automatically (including across shifts)
  • Will allow you to manage shifts
  • Is the only Advanced Planning and Scheduling in Dynamics AX
  • Has been built on years of experience with 4000+ clients
  • Has the ability to support “what if” scenarios
  • Provides the ability to create Planner / Planning dashboards
  • Gives you access to visual resource management
  • Offers a single screen view of all plans
  • Will allow the creation of new “what if” scenarios
  • Provides a view of planned orders in a “BOM” view
  • Gives you a view of stock status
  • Maintains planned orders
  • Enables you to act on MRP message in bulk or individual
  • Provides visual resource screens

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That’s it for now. I hope this blog gave you some things to think about when approaching MPR challenges for a high volume multi-shift product environment in Dynamics AX and the new cloud version. If you have any questions and suggestions for future blog material, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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