■ Purpose of this book

Conditions continue to be difficult for corporations seeking to increase profits and survive in global competition. How do we increase profits in an environment like this? To answer that question I have put together my 14 years of experience in the research and development on and consultation for the Asprova Production Planning Scheduler.

At the beginning of 1990 I saw with my very own eyes how extremely difficult the work was for people who were making production schedulers. I realized that if this work could be aided by computerization it would make the job much easier for the people involved and so I set out on the development of the Asprova Production Planning Scheduler. Then as we installed more and more Asprova Production Planning Schedulers in manufacturing plants we began to realize that we had an important tool for increasing corporate profits.

In 2001 I completely redesigned the Asprova Production Planning Scheduler from the ground up. One of my objectives at that time was to have it work to increase manufacturing profits. The Virtuous Circle for Maximizing Profits that we have built will appear in this volume. The first step in maximum manufacturing profits is visualization. That makes us able to get a good look at BOM (parts table) production schedule plant and equipment load and inventory. Next is the "reduction in lead-time."

In November 2006 I went to study supply-chain management at the world's leading business school at MIT near Boston Massachusetts. The professors at MIT were unanimous in emphasizing the importance of visualization and lead-time reduction.

Right now in 2008 we continue to develop the Asprova Advanced Planning and Scheduling System targeting on an increase in company profits. In this book I will be giving information about that.

■ The production planning scheduler and the production scheduler

 I will use the term "Advanced Planning and Scheduling System" in this book. In Japan it is most common to say "production scheduler" but in these pages the term production planning scheduler will be used and it carries the sense of a scheduling system that includes medium- and long-term schedules and the schedules for ordering and purchasing.

■ About Asprova

 Asprova was established in 1994 as the first company in Japan dedicated to the research and development of production planning schedulers and we have now installed our schedulers in more than 1200 sites throughout the world.