Production Planning and Scheduling

Production Planning and Scheduling

April 26, 2021

Production scheduling is one of those main intersections in a well-run manufactory. Keeping it running at peak output is just as crucial as any tool on the shop floor. But because your schedule data is fed from other departments, it can quickly become a pain point in your daily production plan. After all, are you sure that your scheduling team has all the information they need to ensure your customer orders are out the door on time?

So, what issues could be impacting scheduling? Well, based on experience helping customers in OnRamp ERP, here are the main culprits of scheduling delays:

  • Incorrect inventory
  • Bad purchasing data
  • Inefficient operations
  • Poor training

Incorrect Inventory

Let’s start with a few questions:

  • Does the scheduling team have all the data they need?
  • Do they know what’s in stock?
  • Are your inventory records being updated in real time?

If the answer to either of these is “No” or “I don’t know”, then you have a disaster in the making. The scheduling team must know what you have in stock and on hand at any given moment to ensure they schedule orders for maximum efficiency. Any number of variables can have a negative impact on scheduling. From fragile parts made too soon to part stock that only exists on paper, all the part information should be available to scheduling to ensure that they get the right work orders out at the best time to minimize your costs while maximizing your productivity.

Bad Purchasing Data

The purchasing team should have access to the following data:

  • How reliable are the vendors and what is their lead time?
  • How many parts must be ordered from the vendor? Is there a minimum or a multiplier?
  • What is the best EOQ for the part?

Because scheduling has to know the raw material is in stock, it has a very close relationship with purchasing, meaning that any inefficient, ineffective, or outdated information that purchasing has when it comes to placing orders will negatively impact your schedule. Once you have this data, you also have to be sure that it is kept up-to-date. For example, how is purchasing notified when shipments come in so that they can ensure that the orders are being delivered in the time promised by the vendor?

Here, you have the same solution as with incorrect inventory: better data means better decisions.

Inefficient Operations

When it comes to operations, the following can impact your schedule:

  • Are the operation lead times set correctly?
  • Is the current operator properly trained to ensure those lead times are adhered to?
  • Is there any scheduled downtime for the work center?

Here, poorly timed operations can lead scheduling to have the wrong idea on how long it takes your team to go from raw material to shipped. Of course, this can’t really include unexpected downtime, though that should be rare enough already. Simply put, the data on how long an operation will take and if there is an alternate option (and what the time difference is) should be readily available for the scheduling team. This includes new hires that are just learning their station, or scheduled maintenance.

Poor Training

Keeping staff aware of their responsibilities is a crucial component for any firm:

  • Does your staff know the next steps in their assigned processes?
  • Are they aware of any due dates?
  • Are your staff engaged and completing all their tasks, including data entry?
    • If no, why not?
  • Are staff informed in a timely manner of changes to their duties and responsibilities?

Since staff training encompasses the whole firm, instead of just a department, this issue can be difficult to clear, but keeping proper records of employee training, performance, and having multiple ways to communicate, and keep track of that comm, are a critical part of ownership and accountability. Ensuring that your staff have ‘buy-in’ and those that don’t are properly actioned are important points in improving all the processes at your firm, which includes scheduling.

Conclusion

To summarize, by having all this data at their fingertips, your scheduling department will be sure to always schedule your orders so that lates become a thing of the past.

The best way to get all this data available to the departments that need it is with a single point database and an all-in-one ERP that can tell any person, team, or department, of what is going on elsewhere in your firm that will impact them. And getting all of this data together in a way that is easy to read and easy to understand is imperative in helping you make your products better.

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