ERP or MRP? SAP or APS…What’s the difference?

8/20/15 11:59 AM

erp, aps, mrp, sap

If you’re in the market for manufacturing planning software, then you’ve probably seen many acronyms in the process. Terms such as ERP and MRP refer to particular systems of planning, but can be a little confusing if you've never dealt with them before. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand what each of these terms mean to compare the different software programs and packages.


An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is a program that provides a fully integrated manufacturing experience. ERP programs allow information to be transmitted instantaneously from the production floor to accounting to HR. Modules for each department within a facility are transmitted through the ERP central processing system, giving facility managers complete transparency between departments.

Because these systems control practically every process in a manufacturing facility, they can sometimes have hundreds of users. The best programs can coordinate functions between multiple facilities and optimize the production process.


MRP (Material Requirements Planning) and MRP II (Manufacturing Resource Planning) are systems that control production and inventory. This means they are usually only utilized by the purchasing, production, and delivery departments. 

Many people assume that MRP programs are just a part of an ERP program. While MRP can integrate within an ERP system, they also function perfectly fine on their own. MRP programs, however, rely heavily on manual input from their users to create production schedules.


Systems, Application & Products is a business software brand. Though they specialize in ERP software, they focus mainly on the service end of the process. They offer a program with mobile functionality and cloud solutions so salespeople can have the most up-to-date information while on the road.

SAP (like most ERP systems) is module based. Each separate module (such as Shipping or Purchasing) can be completely integrated with other modules, but there is no need to purchase modules that a company doesn’t need. This flexibility allows the software to grow along with a user company.


Advanced Planning and Scheduling software systems are designed to optimize the scheduling process. It can take input from different departments and cross reference them to create simulation models and projections. Because of this, APS is proactive (unlike ERP and MRP, which are reactive). This software can alert project managers when to expect surges or lulls in demand to schedule their workforce and machinery accordingly. It can also schedule purchasing orders based on predicted future orders and raw material market prices.

Like MRP, APS can be seamlessly integrated into an ERP program. When used in concordance with ERP, APS can suggest optimized schedules across multiple facilities, streamlining the sales, production and transportation process throughout an enterprise.

These four acronyms show up in almost every discussion or article that concerns manufacturing scheduling software. Becoming familiar with these terms is a crucial part of doing your research before deciding which software to implement in your manufacturing process.

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Topics: Advanced Planning and Scheduling, manufacturing, PlanetTogether, Implementation, APS, APS, manufacturing technology, APS benefits


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