Production Scheduling

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Production scheduling refers to the detailed planning of the production process in order to optimize workflow for a specific time-period. It is an integral part of production management and a key tool for ensuring the timely and optimal execution of production plans.

What is production scheduling?

Production or manufacturing scheduling is the process of maximizing the efficiency of production for a specific time-period. It is aimed at preventing stock-outs, spotting bottlenecks, matching production with demand, as well as balancing inputs and outputs between workstations.

A production or manufacturing schedule is a flexible document that details all variables relevant to production. It contains information on what must be produced in a given time-period, as well as who will produce it, where and how. A production schedule is geared toward optimizing workforce and machinery allocation, inventory movement and other production processes, in order to shorten lead times, reduce costs, and meet production targets.

What is production planning?

Production planning is the general process of allocating and designating human resources, raw materials, and workstations to organize and optimize production and meet strategic goals. A coherent production plan ensures that the company can develop, manufacture, and finalize work orders in an efficient way and within predefined time frames.

Production planning involves deciding:

  • what types and quantities of products need to be produced for a given time period;
  • what time-frame this production needs to occur in;
  • which raw materials, workers, and workstations need to be utilized to achieve this.

Read more about production planning.

Production-scheduling

Why is production scheduling important?

Production planning and scheduling exist so that manufacturers could optimize their process flows, ensuring that they achieve the maximum level of efficiency while minimizing or eliminating any chance of delays or potential interruptions.

Scheduling is an important stage when planning a production process. By using production scheduling, organizations can allocate resources within a given timeframe in the most efficient way.

The raw materials, inputs and spare parts are appropriately distributed within a timeframe. Production needs and available resources are balanced so that shop floor workers have everything they need at hand when they need it. Unexpected downtime and bottlenecks are brought to a bare minimum.

The labor is distributed evenly along a month, a week and a day, according to the production needs and production volumes. You can better manage the working hours and assign overtime in advance. You can assign more workers to a shift when the company foresees increasing product demand. When demand decreases, you can take this opportunity to provide training to the excess staff, assign them to other tasks, or make them redundant.

The warehouses and distribution centers have the right amount of stock. The stock levels won’t be too low to cause a stock-out nor too high to cause excessive inventory costs. All the materials, parts, and products will be in the right place at the right time. Your warehouse spaces will not be full of obstacles and you won’t be having to store the incoming goods in random places.

There’s 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 space for 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 day-to-day functioning. That will prevent the company from falling into a lack of funds or relenting to high-interest loans.

Aspects of production scheduling

When scheduling your production, consider the following points:

Labor. Ensure that your labor is available in the needed volume. 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, in the right quality.

Spare Parts. The previous point considered the materials that make up the final product. What about all the machinery spare parts and materials that your equipment needs in order to run properly, like lubricants? Ensure all the spare parts and materials are available in the quality and quantity required.

Machinery and Equipment. Is the machinery available and ready for use? An effective maintenance team has to be in place to ensure the machinery runs when the company decides it should 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 operational.

  • The bearings are running properly
  • The equipment is clean
  • The filters are clean
  • Lubrication maintenance is done
  • The wearable parts have been changed

Good maintenance management practices are invaluable!

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 are simple examples of undesired situations that often occur. A mix of correct maintenance and engineering planning needs to be in place to ensure all the energy services are available.

Management. It is very important to consider this point. Many times, the machinery, the staff, and the materials are waiting behind the management’s decision.

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. It means that the machinery and the work-in-process materials are in the right place, and the materials as well as the finished goods are stored in the warehouse.

Time. Time is the heart of the production scheduling process and, by taking this into consideration, organizations will gain in productivity and efficiency. How much time does an operation take? When does an operation finish so that another one can begin? How much time does it take to set up the workstation? These are only some of the questions you need to answer in order to manage the time in your production schedule wisely.

See the functionality description of our production scheduling software.

Why is Excel & spreadsheet-based software inefficient for production planning and scheduling?

Excel is a very well-known tool 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 more inefficient the more you use it. Here are some of the highlighted disadvantages:

Files become too bulky

You will see Excel becoming heavier and bulkier when adding more functions. You may have lots of lookups and macros and due to this, you’ll see your Excel file sizing tons of megabytes or even gigabytes. This makes production planning and scheduling difficult to handle. Finally, the file could take a long time to open, or it may become unable to open because of its size. This is a clear sign that you have outgrown Excel and need to look for more sophisticated manufacturing software.

There’s a lack of functionality integration

Let’s say that the Manufacturing Planning Team is running the Materials Requirements Planning. They expect to get the material explosion and to release the work orders. However, communication with Purchasing and Production is not functional since the data tends to go in a one-way direction. Both the Purchasing department and the Production department are active planning members whose real-time input is fundamental for achieving 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, but with an even simpler problem. 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, synchronization becomes a crucial problem. It eats up valuable time of managers and planners. In turn, the organization will lose time and the outdated information will lead to erroneous results.

Read more in our article about How to Go from Excel to Manufacturing Software / MRP System.

MRPeasy is a cloud-based ERP software for small manufacturers (10-200 employees)

A simple yet powerful manufacturing ERP/MRP system. Seamless management of production, stock, customers, purchases, finances, and the team.

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Integrated Manufacturing Software for Business Growth

  • Production Planning

    Accurate automatic planning and realistic production schedule. Reschedule dynamically by just dragging and dropping manufacturing orders and operations in the calendar or Gantt chart.

  • Stock

    Inventory management, stock movements, batch and serial number tracking. Set and optimize stock levels and avoid stock-outs. Have a clear history of your stock operations.

  • CRM (Sales Management)

    Just a few clicks to calculate the product cost and the best delivery time. Send quotations and invoices, prepare shipments. Send confirmed customer order to production. Track the sales process all the way from quotation right down to delivery using a simple pipeline view.

  • Team

    Simple environment for line workers to follow tasks on desktop or mobile device. Real-time shop floor reporting. Real-time overview of the need and availability of human resources.

  • Purchasing

    Manage purchases and raise pre-filled purchase orders with a single click. Vendors, prices, lead times, it’s all there. Manage your supply chain with the help of accurate statistics. Forecast your procurement needs.

  • Accounting

    Enjoy clear visibility to your business performance. Follow your cash flow, balance sheet and profit/loss in real time. Understand the profitability of the business, and more.

More than 1000 manufacturers and distributors trust MRPeasy

Reviews

Brandon Ames

CEO, Anicell Biotech

MRPeasy gives us the ability to track all of our manufacturing lot costs right down to the individual serial number of our products. MRPeasy provides the software as a remote service and has never been unavailable to us except in very rare maintenance windows.

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Tim Grant

CEO, Business Solution Providers, Inc

“Ahead of its time” Easy of use and simplicity to understand. This is one of the best programmed software out there for this industry. We setup, train and implement manufacturing software for multiple companies, and clients find it easy to understand and operate.

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Benjamin Raffiani

CEO, Sox Trot LLC

Best value in the small manufacturing space by far. With MRPeasy our capacity doubled. It streamlined our production, and procurement so well that I’m now able to spend a lot more time on growth and sales. Extremely comprehensive and works seamlessly with Xero and Shopify.

Some of our customers

  • AniCell Biotech
  • Nielsen
  • Skin Actives Scientific
  • Starship

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