What is production scheduling?
Scheduling refers to the arrangement and
planning of various processes involved in the production process or
manufacturing process which includes the arrangement, control, and optimization
of work, labor allocation and workloads.
Scheduling exists for the purpose of allocating general resources within factories, as well as managing and allocating resources for machines, the planning of human resources, the planning of production processes, and the purchasing of materials used for production.
What is production planning?
Production planning refers to the planning of manufacturing and production within a manufacturing firm. It ensures that firms have enough raw materials, human resources, etc to make sure that they are able to develop and finalize products, within a predefined and agreed schedule.
Production planning involves making decisions for and figuring out what types of products need to be produced for a given period, the amount of a product that needs to be produced, the time-frame for when this production needs to occur (and the length of it), which raw materials are required to achieve this, and then the scheduling of this product once all of the aforementioned things have been established.
More information about production planning.
Why is production planning and scheduling important?
Production planning and scheduling exist so that manufacturers can optimize their process flows, ensuring that they achieve the maximum level of efficiency. This is achieved by ensuring that all orders that are received are completed with absolute efficiency, as well as minimizing or removing any chance of delays or potential interruptions that might occur.
A comprehensive production planning process will involve tracking and monitoring your team members, raw materials, workstations, processes, and supplies, making sure that they are tracked with complete accuracy. It is not enough to simply possess figures or measurements. You must also have a clear understanding of how every aspect and part of your manufacturing processes work and interact with each other, and how they can be made to work together in the most optimal way possible.
Therefore, manufacturing firms require
production planning tools that work for them, meaning that they find software
which can cater to their unique needs, and which do not require them to adjust
their processes, but rather, get them to optimize and improve.
There is an extensive range of production
planning tools available to manufacturing companies in the markets; however,
the vast majority of them are targeted at large-scale manufacturing
Moreover, these systems are often far too complex to be used for smaller manufacturers. Elsewhere, manufacturers have the option of spreadsheet-style software (also known as ‘off-the-shelf software’) such as Microsoft Excel. This type of software is simply not complex or flexible enough to accommodate manufacturers if they are aiming to achieve greater efficiency within their production planning, as it provides very little opportunities to analyze or optimize your processes.
Why is scheduling important for production processes?
Scheduling is an important stage when planning a
production process. By scheduling, the
organizations can allocate resources within a given timeframe in the most
The raw materials, inputs and spare parts are evenly distributed within the timeframe. Imagine that your company buys an item in a given lot size, just because it was a good deal, but you don’t know if it is going to be used or not. Rather than being a good deal, it would be an inefficient purchasing. Since there was no coordination with other areas of the company to determine the moment the goods are required.
The labor is distributed evenly along a month, a week and a day, according to the production needs and product volumes. You can manage properly the labor hours by assigning in anticipation of extra hours. You can increase the shift dimension when the company foresees an increasing product demand. So, you will take the opportunity to provide training or discard the temporal labor when product demand decreases.
The warehouses and distribution centers have the right amount of stock. The stocks won't be too less to incur on merchandise stock-out nor too many to carry inventory cost in excess. On the other side, the products will be in the right position. Your warehouse corridors won’t be full of obstacles or you won’t store the coming goods in the most unexpected rooms!
There’s a room for R&D and Marketing to introduce innovative products. Operations can coordinate with them to find the most suitable time to make tests, use the production lines and give place to the innovation.
The financial resources and investments are assigned correctly to the right project or the right product. By considering this, you will ensure the highest return. At the same time, it allows the organization to have enough financial resources to afford the day-to-day functioning. That will prevent the company from falling into a lack of funds or recurring to high-interest rate loans in the market.
What are the main things to consider when scheduling the production of products?
When scheduling the production of products consider the following points
Labor. Ensure that your labor is available in the needed quantity and not absent. Ensure they have the proper training and they know how to operate the machinery and the equipment.
Material. Ensure that you have all the raw materials and sub-assemblies on hand, with the right quality. Have the material waiting on hand and foot. It’s a goal that every company needs to achieve.
Spare Parts. The previous point considered the materials that conform to the final product. What about all the machinery spare parts, inputs that equipment needs to run properly, like lubricants? Ensure all the spare parts and inputs are in place in the quality and quantity required.
Machinery and Equipment. Is the machinery available and ready to be used?
An effective maintenance team has to be in place to ensure the machinery runs when the company decides and not vice versa. A proper mix of preventive and predictive maintenance may help to reduce machinery failures and breakdowns. Ensure that the machinery is available and operates under the basic conditions.
- The bearings are running properly.
- The equipment is clean.
- The filters are clean.
- There is lubrication maintenance done.
- The wearable parts had been changed.
A suitable maintenance planning is highly recommended!
Energy. The machinery runs with compressed air, but the compressor is broken. There are continuous blackouts and a lack of electricity or not enough gas pressure in the pipelines. These simple examples help to understand undesired situations that often happen. A mix of correct maintenance and engineering planning needs to be in place to ensure all the energy services are available.
Management. It’s very important to consider this point. Many times, the machinery, the staff, and the materials are waiting for the management decision.
“What are we going to produce now and how many pieces
do we need?”
MRP system help with solving this issue. Yet, it requires the presence and commitment of the manufacturing planning team.
Space. Ensure that the spaces within and around the workstations are free of obstacles. This is part of the good manufacturing practices that every organization needs to have in place. Thus, the machinery and the work-in-progress materials are in the right place, and the materials stored in the warehouse.
Time. Finally, but not the least important, is the resource call timing. This is the heart of the production scheduling process and, by taking this in mind; organizations will gain productivity and efficiency.
Why is Excel & spreadsheet-based software inefficient for production planning and scheduling?
Excel is a very well-known and flexible tool to be used for production planning and scheduling. But when you go deeper into the planning and scheduling process, you’ll figure out that there are some disadvantages. The software becomes inefficient. Here are some of the highlighted disadvantages:
Files became too heavy
You see how Excel software is becoming heavier and heavier by adding more functions. You may have lots of vlookups, macros and at the same time, you see your Excel file sizing tons of megabytes or even gigabytes. This converts the production planning and scheduling improper and difficult to handle. You wait a long time until the Excel is opened or the software is unable to open because the Excel file is too large. This is a sign that Excel is not useful and you need to take some actions by implementing an MRP software solution.
There’s a lack of function integration
Let’s say that the Manufacturing Planning Team is running the MRP. They expect to get the material explosion and to release the work orders. As you’ll see, the integration with Purchasing and Production becomes more difficult. The communication is not effective since the data tends to go in a one-way direction.
You might find the article about how to go from Excel to Manufacturing Software / MRP System helpful.
Both, the Purchasing department and the Production department are active planning members. Consider that they also contribute real-time to get the best production output.
Difficulties when many people manage the software
Let’s assume that you don’t struggle with the file size or with the lack of integration. Yet there´s a problem of time overlap. Two different members cannot see the software updated in real-time as they need the other to save and close the file. When more than two members take part in this, the synchronization becomes a crucial problem. It reduces the valuable time that the managers and planners have. The organization will lose time and the outdated information will lead to erroneous results.