Have you ever found yourself walking and thinking about the immortality of the crab? Trying to make things that have nothing to do with each other relate? I know I have. Last year, in September 2019, I started the Eifelsteig. The Eifelsteig is a long-distance hiking trail through the Eifel low mountain range. It connects cozy little Aachen (where we are located) to the historical Trier. And as I wandered for hours reasoning about all and nothing at the same time, a thought struck me: Walking a long-distance trail is essentially scheduling many hike tasks. Let me explain this...
To give you a little context, the Eifelsteig is 313km long. The official trail's website recommends dividing the length into 15 daily stages. As an ex-pat in Germany, I believe exploring is a great way to get to know my surroundings. And, since I try to pick up the best attributes of Germans, I followed the advice. I committed to hiking one stage per day whenever the weather permitted. When I decided I would walk the trail, I “scheduled” a one-day hike per weekend for the following 15 weeks. By “Schedule” I mean I wrote the stage number in my calendar.
So here's where hiking and scheduling connect. All the terms I have learned and reviewed at work on the Visual Scheduler Suite had a sense in my everyday life too.
Check this out: I planned for medium term, and as the day approaches, I dive into the specifics. Which is pretty much like scheduling in a Resource Group Level, and afterwards assigning all resources. Except the resource is always me and my hiking essentials.
Every stage I now see as a task. The Earliest Material Availability Date is the earliest bus or train I can take. The Machine Center is the means of transportation whether it is a Bus, Train or Car. The costs of operations are the transportation costs corresponding to the day. Oh yes, needless to say, Google Maps is a must. Luckily, I have no Due Date, but I’d rather finish before the hiking season starts again, for… you know, tourists.
And you know what? By seeing this trail through a scheduler’s eyes, I bypassed needless stress. Along the way, I considered alternative routings and routes, as well as anticipated possible risks. Little did I know, I would face another problem. There’s no drag and drop function in my old-school agenda. Why is that important? Anytime a heavy rain or strong wind was about to come, I was forced to cross out my initial plan and write down all over again in the new possible date. Which reminds me of so many customers who are still planning using Excel. Planners who later have to open each Production Order Card to change dates and data on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
So now I get it, we both know there are better ways to plan. I should search for an app that allows me to keep in one place all the information I will need, but be flexible enough to postpone when required. Something like a Hiking Resource Planning Software. Lucky for you, at NETRONIC we knew that already and the Visual Production Scheduler and Visual Jobs Scheduler are out already. Our software lets you do exactly that. You can reschedule your production orders or job planning lines as desired in a matter of seconds, carrying along all the information directly from your ERP. It’s easy, isn’t it?
I'm up for App recommendations if you have any. I'm also up for explaining better how the Visual Scheduling Suite can help you the most.
I wish this blog helps for when we get asked “Where’s Aachen?”. Aachen is close to Cologne, but also to the Eifel National Park. And for any hikers out there, when in Germany be sure to make a trip to the Eifel, which by coincidence starts very close to our offices.
If you’d like to hike around NRW or have an interest in learning more about long-term production scheduling for MS Dynamics 365 Business Central, drop us a message via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be very happy to work with you.