In this inaugural episode of the Visual Scheduling Podcast, we talk to long-time scheduling consultant and ERP industry expert Dave Weissman from ArcherPoint about his experiences with scheduling.
This episode covers:
- Getting started and setting up your schedule
- Advice from an expert on creating a new schedule, including factors to consider
- Challenges faced with creating a new schedule and how to overcome them
- What's more important, resource utilization or meeting job deadlines?
- Final pieces of advice from a scheduling expert
Jake: Hi Everyone, this is Jake from NETRONIC. Thanks for joining me today for this first episode of our NETRONIC Visual Scheduling Podcast where we’re going to dive into scheduling and invite guests from across different industries to discuss with us what scheduling is and what it means. Today I’m really happy that Dave Weissman from ArcherPoint has been able join me. Dave’s been around ERP for quite a while. He’s been an end user, a consultant, and today he’s going to be my guest as we talk about scheduling the way he’s seen it. So, what his experiences have been, how he approaches scheduling, and hopefully how his knowledge can bring insight to all of you listening to this episode. So without any further ado, welcome Dave.
Dave: Thanks Jake, glad to be here with you today.
Jake: It’s always good to start at the beginning. What was your first experience getting into scheduling? How did you get started?
Dave: Shortly out of college my study was based around production and operations management. One of my first jobs was scheduling the factory. It was a metal fab organization. We had some basic systems that would drive demand and perform some basic MRP (Material Resource Planning) that would spit us out dispatch lists. They were infinitely loaded work centers so we had to take that and the goal was we wanted to sequence the work in the metal fab shop.
We took the system generated stuff and interestingly enough, and this is when a lot of the lean and visual scheduling where coming out, we took a sheet of plywood, painted it white, and attached a bunch of metal clips to it. Every day we would take the information we got from the MRP system, print the production orders, and go out and use these clips to hang the production orders. We wanted them to be sequenced literally by machine in that area.
I think the challenges tend to be not only determining the schedule from your information system but then it’s handing that schedule off to the people that have to work with it so that they can interpret and execute accordingly. We like the visual aspect and that was one of the first things I did in my scheduling career which wasn’t just going over and handing someone a sheet saying “this is what’s going to be worked on” but something visual.
Jake: What advice would you give to those creating a new schedule?
Dave: There’s a couple of key things when it comes to scheduling. You have to first in your mind be able to break out and say what is the resource, or like resources, that I’m attempting to schedule. You want to understand the different capabilities of the resources or work centers that you’re scheduling. This is the constant challenge of a scheduler is the back and forth between customer service and manufacturing and the balancing of the work that’s flowing to them and how they parley that into work for the factory.
So, really understand the resource you’re attempting to schedule and then, on the flip side, have a good understand of the demand that’s flowing for you to create this balancing act.
Now you need to have an appreciation on the resource side, what is their skill level? Do you have an experienced manager that you can hand a list which he can sequence accordingly? Or is, on the other side, they expect you to sequence the work before giving to them and they just follow exactly what’s been laid out? So, it usually goes between these two different scenarios. You really want to understand their capability to accept a schedule and work with it. That will more heavily determine what further information you give to them.
Jake: It’s funny, it seems that despite the transition the world is making towards more automation and more machines, much of this is still very much human.
Dave: True Jake and it’s interesting that even though we have tools that are high-tech, I still find that this piece of it is very low in that quite often folks are still working in excel. They don’t quite believe that their ERP system can give them the right information. Part of the goal of what I do, as it pertains to scheduling, is I have to help them understand and believe that the data system can work for them. I need to convince them that the system is a good calculator. If we give it specific rules, it will produce results which you can then forward on to your group. This allows those folks to spend more time with that human element. They can have those conversations about that difficult job, or looking at the bigger picture, looking at process, and ultimately spend less time on day to day data, as they have a system which can handle it, and spend more time on that human aspect which really is the heat of scheduling – especially when working on those scenarios which don’t always fit.
Jake: So moving on from creating a new schedule, what are some of the challenges faced once a schedule is created?
Dave: Scheduling is, in a way, a thankless job. Scheduling is the go-between between the incoming sales and customer service and they have to take that information, wrap their head around it, and then pass it on to manufacturing. Those are two very different entities that the scheduler sits between. One obviously is more focused on generating sales and making the customer happy, and on the other end you’ve got a manufacturing operation that needs to make sure that they’re efficient, that they maximize their utilization, etc. So scheduling is really the go-between between those two. It’s a balancing act. Sometimes you have to be the voice of reason between these two groups and bring these groups together and have conversations. Typically an organization will have objectives. Those objective can be more focused on the customer service side or they can be more manufacturing driven. It really comes down to understanding the environment in which you work as a scheduler but often times you have to be that voice of reason between these two entities or groups and be able to work with the objective as to: are we more customer service driven or manufacturing driven?
Jake: So when considering balance, what is, for example more important, resource utilization or meeting job deadlines?
Dave: So we talk about balance but of course there will be conflicts. I think the role of the scheduler is to balance the best that you can and then being able to know when to elevate conflicts. I don’t know that it’s necessarily the job of the scheduler to solve that issue, but certainly being able to recognize those issues, and the sooner they can recognize, the sooner they can effectively talk with the person responsible for the inbound side of what’s causing that conflict. Also to be able to work with the manufacturing side and bring those groups together – be able to present the data as well as potential options, without necessarily making the decision.
Present the scenario. Here are our options. Maybe you’re offloading capacity to another work center. Maybe manufacturing has to consider overtime as well and understand the cost of those options. You can present your upstream and downstream clients with all the right information so that hopefully as a team you’re figuring out the solution.
Jake: Sounds like schedulers, both the tools they use but also the humans using them, need to be highly adaptable.
Dave: Definitely, you need to be able to assess your options as well as know the capabilities of your organization to react. It’s really there where you want a scheduler to spend their time. You don’t want them spending a lot of time on plotting jobs. The more you can get the calculated work done by the system, the more time you can devote to balancing and making sure that things run smoothly.
Jake: Thanks Dave. As a final question, are there any other pieces of advice you would give to scheduling teams out there?
Dave: Make the ERP system work for you. If the data isn’t there, let’s get the data in place. If the rules aren’t there, let’s get the rules in place. Let it [ERP system], as they are very good calculators, do the processing work. Make use of these powerful systems. Make sure you’re working on an exception basis. Let the system do the bulk of it and allow the scheduler do deal with the issues in between. Don’t just get intimated and immediately go offline into excel. This disrupts fluidity as you’ve moved to an external database, it can’t fit with the rest of the organization. As soon as you go to, for example, that excel spreadsheet you’re taking yourself out of the game.
About the guest:
Dave has been actively involved in supply chain management and ERP roles for more than 25 years. He has facilitated many ERP implementations and upgrades as both a consultant and a practitioner with a variety of ERP packages. Much of that experience has been focused on the business process and how supporting systems can achieve and or enhance those business process objectives.
Dave’s NAV experience involves implementation and support as a Business Analyst for several organizations before transitioning over to NAV consulting. He is very client focused having been in that seat and understands the need for adding value to the client process. As well as offering ways to improve that process based on many years of industry experience.
Dave is currently engaged at ArcherPoint as a NAV Consultant, helping clients match NAV with their business process needs for optimum results.
For ways to get in touch with Dave, as well as information on contacting our awesome partners at ArcherPoint go here:
A big thank you to Dave and the team at ArcherPoint!
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