Posted 10 June 2016
"Why schedule with Access Orchestrate?" might seem a facile question in a manufacturing environment. After all, every manufacturer, to a greater or lesser degree, has to plan and schedule production. In fact, this simply just scratches the surface.
For most, their MRP or production systems simply do not provide the level of detail they need to manage right down to their own process complexities. No account is taken of current available capacity or constraints. That's why most companies end up 'cooking their own soup'. Over-stressed planners end up spending too much time working with Excel spreadsheets, flowcharts and manual work-arounds.
Even the simplest finished product can go through complex stages that compete for resources, stages that are time and sequence dependent. And every planner has to cope with the unexpected - machine breakdowns, bottlenecks, rework, rush orders, and key personnel not being available.
That's why smart production scheduling software - used for day-to-day scheduling, capacity planning and 'what if' analysis - can deliver such remarkable results.
The short answer to ""Why schedule"" is that rather than having to invest in new plant, modern scheduling software helps manufacturers get more out of existing facilities.
Longer term it helps companies rationalise manufacturing. And as a bonus, it also reduces errors and increases the productivity of planning staff.
Let's see how…
Production scheduling in the real world
Intelligent scheduling systems reflect the real world. Real world constraints such as machine availability, people, their skills, tool changes, technical support, colour sequencing and sterile hold times.
They recognise how batches mesh together, how products can take alternative routes in the production process and how multiple products can use the same facility. Here are some examples:
We will start with the batch footprint. At its simplest, a batch footprint is little more than a list of consecutive processes, often portrayed on planning charts as 'floating chimneys'.
Modern production scheduling software goes much further. It can recognise that, for a single batch, the tasks have to occur on the same equipment. This is important because in a scheduling problem we need to view more than a single batch. We need to see how the batches mesh together.
What's more, modern systems can manage multiple products in the same facility - different products, with a different batch footprint and a different choice of alternatives for routing. Real world.
And they can schedule all resources at the same time. Unlike most project management tools, intelligent production scheduling systems tell us what resources we need for each task and when they are needed. No conflicts.
Being able to manage complex sequencing, reducing the number of setups and making changes as circumstances dictate, all adds up to a significant improvement in plant and resource utilization. See our case studies.
Effective production scheduling software can provide real visibility, across any number of planners and managers. Some systems can also integrate easily with existing ERP and planning systems, which means that planners are able to pick up feedback from execution systems with a live view of the production.
Such feedback alone can be sufficient justification for moving from Excel-type models to production scheduling systems. And KPIs can be built-in to ensure that whenever live decisions are made, any adverse ramifications are flagged up.
By defining views that are user-specific, smart scheduling systems can highlight different areas of the plan to different people. Views that automatically, when integrated with execution systems, keep pace with real time and highlight tasks that have been started, completed and so on.
Visibility of customer orders is a major tool that allows planners to improve on-time-in-full deliveries. And once companies feel more confident with the reliability of their planning data, it quickly becomes possible to improve lead times and cut WIP.
As an example, Nolato Jaycare, users of our own Orchestrate production scheduling software have reported a reduction in WIP of 25% and a reduction in lead times of around 30%. Wastage has been cut significantly, simply because they now have fewer tool changes. More…
Taking the long view
Production scheduling systems can often be used to enhance longer term Capacity Planning, or Sales & Operations Planning - an area traditionally plagued with unrealistic and over confident plans.
The level of detail and deep understanding of specific production processes possible within smart scheduling systems makes 'What if?' scenario planning a reality.
Boosting planner productivity
Finally, breaking free from time consuming, inflexible and error-prone Excel-type scheduling, boosts planner productivity.
In the words of one of our own customers, Steve Brownlee, IT Director, Vernagroup: ""What used to take a whole day for a planner can now be accomplished in twenty minutes. That doesn't just mean eliminating the hassle; it means we can afford to run alternative scenarios, knowing that built-in KPI alerts will keep us on track. All that from a system that cost one third the cost of competitive systems. A system implemented in just six weeks and getting absolute benefits." More…
ERP and production execution systems offer very real advantages to manufacturing companies. However, when it comes to complex scheduling - and even simple finished products can involve complex interactions, routings and resource constraints - they are too generic.
They cannot take cognizance of each company's very specialized interactions between operations and resource constraints. And they often fall at the first hurdle, unable to cope with infinite capacity planning.
In the real world, there is no finite capacity of machines, tooling, materials, labour or other resources. And in the real world, change is the only constant.
Advanced planning and scheduling software eliminates most of the hassle associated with semi-manual planning systems. It is responsive to change and is nimble enough to provide alternatives whenever unplanned constraints occur - always with a close eye on KPIs. That is why it is so valuable, squeezing the most out of existing resources. Improving operational performance as well as planner performance.
Visibility of customer orders allows planners to improve OTIF deliveries. And once companies feel more confident with the reliability of their scheduling, it quickly becomes possible to improve lead times and cut WIP.
Read our whitepaper, Break Free From Cells, to see how you can replace spreadsheets with advanced planning and scheduling software in your business, or request a demonstration of Access Orchestrate below.