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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central provides a small to medium-sized business with a rich range of functionalities to support manufacturing. Included is the ability to plan production production capacity, which is often overlooked by users, although isn't essential to the production process.

A produced item is associated with two key pieces of information: a) a bill of materials (BOM) that defines the component items that comprise the produced item and, b) routing that defines the process requirements. It is the routing that enables capacity planning and forms the basis of this article.

What is routing?

Routing is a link between the item that is to be produced and the operations that are required to produce the item. When a production order is created for a produced item, the associated routing will govern the operations' scheduling.

What are the benefits of production routing?

Production routing provides a business with the ability to review the efficiency of a production process. This allows the identification of those steps in the production process that represent a bottle-neck because demand exceeds capacity or are underused because capacity is available.

Using a routing?

The steps associated with the use of a routing are outlined in the following sections:

Step 1 – Set up work and machine centers

The resources to support production are work and machine centers. These form a hierarchical structure with a work center at the top and multiple machine centers at the bottom.

The associated shop calendar defines the availability of a work center. All this specifies the start and end times for a standard working week and any usual holidays in a year.

The center's availability (usually in minutes per day) governs a work center's planned capacity. The capacity (expressed as a decimal value) and the center's efficiency (expressed as a percentage) adjust this value.

Step 2 – Define the routing

A routing arranges production operations (represented by work and machine centers) in a list to represent the order in which they will occur. In most cases, the operations for a routing occur in series, but they can be set up to occur in parallel.

Timings can be defined for each production step, such as setup time (at the production order level) and run time (at the production item level). These values affect the capacity of each production operation.

Step 3 – Associate the routing with a production item

After routing has been created, it must be certified. Only then can it be associated with a production item. Any production orders which are then created for the production item will use the specified routing.

Step 4 – Raise a production order

A production order can be created manually, although typically, it is created automatically by a planning function to fulfill a known demand. Action on the production order allows details of the associated planned routing to be viewed, including the start and end times for each operation. A subsequent change to the routing definition can be applied to an active production order using the 'refresh production order' action.

Step 5 – View the task and loading for a work or machine center

Work and machine centers provide a function to enable the usage of a to-be-reviewed center.

Active production orders associated with a production operation can be viewed as a task list and availability (including capacity and allocated quantity) can be viewed as daily load statistics.

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