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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 capacity which, although not essential to the production process, is perhaps often overlooked by users.

Associated with a produced item are 2 key pieces of information: a bill of materials (BOM) that defines the component items which comprise the produced item and a routing that defines the process requirements. It is the routing that enables capacity planning and forms the basis of this article.

What is a routing?

A 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 scheduling of operations.

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 under used 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 centres and machine centres

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

The availability of a work centre is defined by the associated shop calendar. This specifies the start and end times for a standard working week and any standard holidays in a year.

The planned capacity of a work centre is governed by the availability of the centre (usually in minutes per day) and this value is adjusted by the capacity (expressed as a decimal value) and the efficiency of the centre (expressed as a percentage).

Step 2 – define the routing

A routing arranges production operations (represented by work centres 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 setup 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 a routing has been created it must be certified and can then 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 fulfil a known demand. An 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 definition of a routing can be applied to an active production order using the ‘refresh production order’ action.

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

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

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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