In this post, Mercurius IT’s Operations Director, Lee Cridland, speaks to NETRONIC about his experiences of production and project task scheduling at Siemens and job scheduling at Mercurius IT, as well as provides insights into what good scheduling looks like.
For our manufacturing end customers (especially, for small and mid sized production companies) we often develop visual scheduling applications that are exactly tailored to the individual and specific production planning requirements. When specifying these requirements, we very often realize that a great deal of added value is created by linking operative production planning to the real-time events on the shop-floor. In other words: by equipping dynamic planning with dynamic updating, such as a GPS for cars that informs us about the distance to move and the expected arrival time. We call this the synchronous scheduling Gantt chart.
This blog post gives you an idea about the principle of a synchronous Gantt diagram that could be compared to a GPS for production planning.
My experience from working with many SMB companies around the globe tells me that even the best (and probably most expensive) production planning model never can cope with reality: data always seems to be too imperfect to feed the “perfect” algorithm and the current production conditions seem to change too fast so that systems always seem to be ‘behind’ the shop floor reality. In that regard, a scheduling grey area should be defined as the area in which the scheduling system’s settings, configuration and model does not meet the reality and in which a human scheduler is sitting in the driver seat with the need to make agile decisions.
In this blog post I talk about how a visual scheduling approach can help the driver to navigate through the scheduling grey area,
"As we move into 2015, I believe we will see more and more small manufacturing companies start to adopt software solutions that help better plan and manage day-to-day manufacturing operations. Forty-five percent of respondents in our survey were still using pen and paper or other manual methods to manage their workflow. I see that number dropping next year." – This is the conclusion of the 2014 Manufacturing Software Buyer Report published by Victoria Adesoba, researcher at small business manufacturing software analysis group Software Advice.
I was kind of shocked by this figure: 45% of all SMB manufacturing planning processes still work on pen and paper-basis? That’s an amazing statement and it intrigued me reading the entire report and spending some thoughts on what this actually says about how software vendors support SMB manufacturing companies achieving operational excellence through better production scheduling. All in all, I found a total of four whopping figures. To me, these figures are undisputed facts why SMB manufacturers need visual production scheduling.
Modern manufacturing companies must manage, coordinate, and synchronize numerous activities to perform operations successfully in today’s competitive global marketplace. The scheduling challenges that they face make it extremely difficult for even advanced algorithmic based systems to actually meet and solve every situation that can affect the throughput rates, supply chain maintenance, and quality control procedures which are required for ideal efficiency and maximum profitability.
To remain profitable and ensure company sustainability despite constant fluctuations in today’s global marketplace, discrete manufacturers and distributors must constantly strive to improve efficiency in every area of operation, applying lean strategies through the introduction of innovative procedural tools.
Yet production and logistic administrators understand that even the most advanced ERP, MES, MRP or APS systems lack the ability to prevent the occasional supply chain snafu, and resist short term changes to algorithmic scheduling that are sometimes necessary to achieve precision performance.
Especially when production scheduling is concerned, Gantt charts are a proven tool to manage resources with time-related tasks as efficiently as possible. In many production environment, these tasks tend to have only short processing times so that the Gantt chart has to visualize many of them one after another – showing as much details as possible. At the same time, the planner needs a high-level overview of the manufacturing process. In other words: a proper balance between detail and abstraction has to be found and since the bars lack space to provide task information, meeting these demands by a Gantt chart is tricky.