Linked orders have been introduced to let PC-Topp handle products that are not produced by converting a piece of corrugated board into a box (or similar), but that require several separate elements to be assembled, each of them converted from its own piece of corrugated board.
A good example for this type of order is a display stand that may require one front, two feet, and several trays or drawers: Each of these elements is an order in PC-Topp's usual sense. The finished display can be assembled when each of those elements is ready, and may require one or several operations by itself.
PC-Topp models this by a separate order with its own order key for each of the elements, plus one order for the assembled display, again with its own order number. (The order numbers of all orders linked together must be different, but of course they can all have the same main part of the order number with different suffixes.)
Obviously, production of the assembled display can only start when all components are ready. PC-Topp shows that information just like it shows the date (and time) when an ordinary order will be ready from the previous machine: The date and status reflect the combined status of availability of all required components.
Thus, the planner sees that the last component required to start working on assembly is scheduled to be ready the next morning, for example, or that all parts are ready (i.e. produced on their respective last operation).
The use of linked orders goes beyond assembled displays, however: A pair of linked orders can much better model an order that is stitched together from two identical (or non-identical) parts. Or, if an order needs more than the six operations supported by PC-Topp, then it can be broken up into two linked orders, where the first feeds the missing operations stored in the second order.
In the following example, an order of 50 boxes requiring eight operations is divided into order 5689A for the first five operations and order 5678 for the remaining three operations.
In all examples above, linked orders had N parts feeding 1 final order (in the last example, N was equal to 1). But also the opposite is possible, where 1 original order feeds several final orders. This is useful, for example, if the same box is ordered by several customers, and should be manufactured in one large job. Or, to run identical sheets for several different articles on the corrugator in one large run.
Please also see the document PC-Topp.NET Linked Orders for more information.