Production schedulers and planners work every day to balance limited labor, materials, production time, and availability of machines and tools against forecasted demand, customer orders, and the backlog. They also deal with the constraints of launching new products and providing short-notice production runs while dealing with labor and supply chain shortages.
As a manufacturing business grows, production schedulers juggle more complex customer orders, expedited orders, backlogs, budgeting time for equipment refurbishment, container deliveries, logistics, and supply chain allocations. The goal is to optimize every production run by factoring in constraints before work starts. It is often necessary to pivot or flex the production schedule in real-time to meet changing customer delivery timeframes or substitute one sourced material for another. All this must happen for customers’ delivery dates to be met on time or early. The result is that production schedulers and planners outgrow manual methods, including color-coded spreadsheets and whiteboards, to get daily production schedules done.
Solve Scheduling Constraints to Put Customers First
It’s a sure sign that a manufacturing business needs to upgrade from a manual to an automated production scheduling system when labor, supply chain, and inventory constraints become too complex to manage with spreadsheets and whiteboards. Manual approaches do not have the flexibility of automated scheduling screens or the real-time data combined with algorithms that can handle both infinite- and fixed-capacity and constraint-based scheduling approaches.
Production schedulers have what they need to excel at their jobs when production scheduling is automated, using the same real-time production and process monitoring data shared across ERP, MES, accounting & finance. They can do the following that directly help customers know when quoted orders will arrive and ensure orders are on time.
- Use Capable to Promise for planning and to close more quotes. One of the most powerful features of production scheduling software is completing “what if” scenarios for the entire production process. For example, Capable to Promise can determine the availability of required raw materials, purchased parts, manufacturing time, and more needed to complete the required order. Including Capable to Promise on sales quotes helps customers plan for the delivery of the products they are buying, further helping to speed up the buying process.
- Forecasting and Production Planning for greater accuracy. Production scheduling systems with real-time integration to order entry and sales modules make it possible for production planners to improve forecasting accuracy and keep production schedules current. Knowing how forecasts, advance orders, and purchase orders in the future will impact production scheduling in the immediate future is also invaluable for keeping on track with orders.
- Material Requirements and Resource Planning (MRP) to optimize against constraints. Production scheduling software relies on an MRP engine to manage and optimize all resources necessary to meet current and future manufacturing demand forecasts and booked purchased orders. They also include items manufactured internally and through third-party vendors and sub-assemblies.
- Master Production Schedule (MPS) drives solid production plans. MPS is the production scheduling systems’ go-to module for ensuring all resources required to meet manufacturing demand are available. The purpose of an MPS is to define all resources and costs required to meet the manufacturing demand (forecast, sales order, and dependent), current work orders (firm, generated, manual), and projected on-hand balances (availability) converting the data to a production plan.
- Advanced Planning and Scheduling System (APS) keeps schedules flexible. An APS allows real-time adjustments to allow for unplanned events while ensuring optimal production throughput across all shop floors and production facilities. APS is a core part of an integrated MES system, helping production planners identify plant capacity and generate detailed production schedules from an organization level down to a plant level and work cell if needed. In addition, the APS software engine manages all resources necessary to meet manufacturing demand. As a result, an APS can typically perform complex schedule optimizations in minutes instead of the hours manual systems need to complete material, capacity, and labor requirements for items manufactured internally, through third-party vendors, and sub-assemblies.
Production Scheduling Software Earns Customer Trust
Customers’ trust matters the most, which is reason enough to move from manually based production scheduling to a more automated system. To keep earning customers’ trust, production-scheduling software needs to provide real-time insights that schedulers and planners can use to improve overall schedule efficiency. Internal teams need an intuitive, easily understood schedule interface that is immediately usable by everyone on the shop floor.
Most important, production-scheduling systems need to be based on real-time production and process monitoring in addition to the latest information on stock levels of source materials, equipment tooling readiness and capacity, and availability of approved operators on production days. Production scheduling is the heartbeat of the shop floor, and getting it right will keep earning customer trust and repeat business. It is too important to leave to spreadsheets and whiteboards.