Production order scheduling is a technique that is used in pretty much every manufacturing company in the world, and especially in the United States. Every company that manufactures a product typically needs to not only plan for the raw materials to be available, but the resource (machine, people and vendor time) as well. You can’t make something if you don’t have both the materials and the resources.
In some industries, companies make the same product over and over with very little change in production output and materials. This is typical in a repetitive manufacturing environment. Of course resources are important, but there are very few setup changes and the product goes through the same resources or work centers most of the time. The challenge is to keep the equipment up and running, as well as improving the production process to manufacture more in less time.
A lot of other companies can still manufacture large production runs or quantities of a specific part number, but they need to be aware of machine setup times, resource availability when competing for time on other production orders making different part numbers. When they do start the manufacture, some can stay on production for a number of days, weeks or even months.
Then there are the job shop companies, where they manufacture a small quantity either frequently, periodically or even just one time. Production Orders compete for valuable resources, typically a key piece of equipment or person, in order to produce the parts when they are needed. A company needs not only fully utilize the resource, they must also delivery the parts when the customer needs them with absolute quality control. Any rework of produced parts tend to interrupt the production process even more, since it may not be planned.
Why use production order scheduling?
Every manufacturing company has a production schedule, whether it is system generated, manually created on paper or in excel or in someone’s head based on their experience and knowledge. If you are fortunate enough to be in an industry and company that can enter in the production parameters and a system generates a schedule that can be followed (the majority of the time), then it is obvious how an automated production scheduling system can benefit you. In this scenario, one can concentrate on making sure the raw materials and components are where they need to be to support the production schedule. Also, one has to make sure the equipment is running and preventative maintenance is being done to insure there are no, or very little, unplanned down times.
If not in an above type industry or organization, then some tool to help you with production scheduling is imperative. You may not be able to perfectly schedule your resources for a lot of reasons: people don’t show up for work, setup time, customer priority changes, rework, short lead-time orders, etc. You still need a list of production orders, what resources they use (and for how long), material availability, priorities and a lot of other information. Use a production schedule system to manage the data so you don’t have to rekey and update data from other sources.
Let the production scheduling software schedule production in the mid and long term future (1 week to 6 months) automatically with some manual review and adjustments. This will allow purchasing and procurement to have a better idea as to what materials are needed and when. It will also allow for mid-to-high level analysis of capacity requirements in the future.
As you get into the short-term horizon, a few days to a week or so, manually take over the scheduling of the production orders from the automated system by freezing the schedule, manually setting the priority and reducing the scheduling chaos that an machine operator or vendor is exposed to.
Is there an easy way?
Sometimes and sometimes not. If it is easy, what you manufacture is a candidate for competitors and even management to make you product elsewhere. Perhaps where long lead times and access to needed resources is not that important?
If what you manufacture is not easy and requires a fair amount of expertise, then you need a set of tools to help you manage. You need to eliminate the re-keying of mundane and repetitive information so you can spend time managing the schedule and dealing with exceptions.
To find out more about production order scheduling and SAP Business One, contact us.
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