How To Optimize Production Capacity And Scheduling

How to Optimize Production Scheduling

To help optimize production capacity and scheduling, manufacturers turn to integrated ERP systems to find new insights into how they can solve complex scheduling conflicts. When production management teams settle for “just good enough” scheduling decisions, everything from machine capacity to customer delivery dates suffers. Staying competitive in manufacturing means always striving to optimize production capacity and scheduling in real-time. And that needs to start by automating these two core production processes.

Signs It’s Time To Optimize Production Capacity & Scheduling 

Scheduling production manually or with spreadsheets is a complex, calculation-intensive job. It can also lead to accidental errors or omissions that create shock waves across the shop floor, stopping production. Factoring in a diverse series of inputs, including demand forecasts, raw materials availability, tools and equipment availability, required delivery time, production rates, and more, requires an automated approach.

Machinery capacity and availability determine a plant’s potential to produce revenue. Scheduling inefficiencies, unplanned downtime, and underutilized machine capacity can reduce a plant’s productivity by 25%, potentially leaving a typical business with $3 to $5 million a year in unrealized revenue.

Sure signs a manufacturer’s facilities need to move away from manually-based scheduling and adopt a more automated approach to optimize production scheduling include:

  • Increasing resource conflicts and challenges to meet production schedules and customer delivery dates.
  • Work center capacity is increasingly underutilized, driving up operating costs and creating challenges in delivering products on time.
  • Unplanned equipment downtime is causing bottlenecks on the plant floor and requires scheduling changes that take hours instead of minutes.
  • Greater challenges assigning the best-trained production teams to the highest priority orders. Inexperienced production teams can lead to lower product quality and growing returns.
  • Excessive rework caused by jobs running on under-performing equipment. One automotive parts manufacturer’s production orders had to be reworked seven times on average while being scheduled across production work centers. With a cost of $165 per order rework, not having automated scheduling with “runs-the best” capability costs $1,155 per order to cover the errors that could have been solved with better automation.

How An Integrated Manufacturing ERP System Can Help 

Knowing how efficient equipment capacity is being used across the shop floor directly impacts the plant’s ability to deliver revenue. Getting production capacity and scheduling right needs to start with an integrated manufacturing ERP system that can measure and manage production constraints. This includes knowing:

  • What machines are available to do the work
  • The current condition of shop floor equipment
  • When raw material can be dispositioned
  • Whether all machines are fine-tuned for the specific raw materials being used
  • If tools and special equipment are available
  • If the best possible production teams are available

An integrated ERP system designed to optimize production scheduling reduces fire drills and ensures consistency and optimization to help drive revenue, with capabilities to:

  • Create an optimized schedule based on actual historical performance. By automating production scheduling that analyzes historical production and performance data and demand forecasts, each day’s schedule is optimized for the given skill sets, tool capacity and function, fixture limitations, and work center capacity.
  • Perform “what-if” analyses to identify how tradeoffs in capacity and scheduling impact revenue. When capacity planning, optimization, scheduling, MES, and financials share the same database, it is possible to perform what-if tradeoffs before committing resources to production. What-if analysis also shows the impact on each order’s costs, margins, and revenue. It gives manufacturers the freedom to choose the best possible approach to optimizing production in real-time.
  • Know Available-to-Promise (ATP) and Capable-To-Promise (CTP) for every order. Including ATP and CTP on quotes and proposals is one of the most proven ways to win more sales. The manufacturer with a complete quote gives prospects all they need to make a purchasing decision that makes the most sales. The benefit of having comprehensive quotes sent to prospects that define when orders can ship is a strategy more manufacturers need to consider using.
  • Provide greater shop floor visibility, control, and proven gains in productivity. Excelling at production scheduling starts by realizing manually-based spreadsheets and worksheets aren’t delivering the insights and visibility needed to become competitively stronger. An integrated ERP system can make any manufacturer stronger by automating scheduling that factors in all production variables (orders, raw materials, machine availability, and labor)—optimizing a production schedule in minutes instead of hours.


Having production capacity and scheduling share the same database as an integrated ERP system makes it more efficient to schedule production runs and special orders, reacting in real-time to unexpected events. It is also possible to minimize lost machine and labor hours and expedite orders with minimal disruption of normal production. Having analytics and tools for performing “what if” analysis also helps identify the best combination of teams, machinery, tools, raw material work instructions, and products to be produced given the constraints on a shop floor. It is time to compete with more insightful, real-time data. That is why optimizing production capacity and scheduling with an integrated manufacturing ERP is critical to succeeding in today’s competitive environment.

Learn the values of an ERP system and how it can provide greater visibility of manufacturing costs.