Overview | Scheduling Principles & Practice

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Overview

According to Wikipedia, scheduling is the process of arranging, controlling and optimizing work and workloads in a production process or manufacturing process. The key scheduling elements in M-Power are below. 

 

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  • Jobs contain one or more products. Each product has a 'workflow' that lists the sequence of processes, that must be performed in order to manufacture the product. 
  • As jobs are entered into the system, the system extracts those processes from the job we wish to schedule (shown in yellow)  
  • We assign resources (people or machines) to these processes | such as Terry, Mimaki and Steve
  • In some cases, we may assign a specific date and time that some resources should be performed, while others are worked on in sequence from a list.
  • As schedulers, we may re-arrange the sequence or priority in which we wish our resources to work on them relative to other jobs on the list.
  • Our staff work through the list of processes in the sequence we have detailed in the schedule - as they are completed they disappear from the schedule.

For simplicity, we recommend that you aim to schedule critical processes only (shown in Yellow). Critical processes are those where you have limited capacity (bottlenecks) and could delay the delivery of the job.  Non-critical processes must still be done but it is self-evident to experienced staff that they must complete the proceeding processes before completing the scheduled process. 

 

List vs Calendar Scheduling

In a busy manufacturing job-shop (as opposed to flow/production line production), there can be literally thousands of individual processes that resources must complete. We experience a lot of day-to-day variation in manufacturing that affects our schedule accuracy. For instance, staff are late, machines break, weather changes materials don't arrive and rework may be required. 

M-Power believes that for many companies it is a wasted exercise to assign a specific time and duration to all of these processes and expect that the schedule can be maintained.  Wikipedia explains the academic futility of doing this here - NP Hardness | Jobshop Scheduling.

We believe in a blend of list-based (a sequence) and calendar-based (specific date/time) scheduling. 

Calendar Scheduling

Calendar-based scheduling is described below and recognises that there are always some specific dates that some processes must be completed to ensure coordination among other resources - consider these 'anchors' in the schedule that cant be moved

Schedule Lists

All remaining processes must be completed according to their weighted priority. These processes cant be completed yesterday, so the resource begins his/her day with the first process on the list. The list of processes along with their current status in manufacturing, duration allows a resource complete visibility to the work ahead and behind them and allows them to manage their own micro-schedule in the most efficient manner.

 

Preparing to Schedule

The basic prerequisites for scheduling are:

  • Only processes that are ticked (in settings) as  'scheduled processes' will show on the schedule
  • Each product recipe must list the processes required for a given job, in the correct sequence along with the expected duration
  • In settings, add the list of Resources you wish to assign work to
  • Ensure that each job you wish to schedule:
    • has a due date entered (the default priority),
    • Is "Released"
    • Is not 'On-Hold'

How to Schedule

The scheduling process is covered in detail on this dedicated page. The general process is as follows:

  • Review the schedule calendar in WIP. All unscheduled processes will show in the tray
  • The tray can be filtered by job, process, company and text (1)
  • Using the filters at the top, select a resource you want to assign the process to (2)
  • Drag processes to the calendar that you wish to happen on a defined date and time on the schedule calendar (3) -> (4)

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  • Click on the process within the tray (5) to bring up the extended controls

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  • (1) allows you to write specific notes that apply only to this calendar item
  • (2) allows you a fine degree of control on the length of the process - note that the default duration applied when the process is dragged to the grid will be the estimated | Quoted process duration. Any changes that you make here will not be copied back to the estimated duration
  • (3) allows you to remove the process from the calendar and place it back on the tray
  • (4) allows you to drill into the details of the job
  • If you wish the same process to be assigned to two resources, use (5) to copy and assigned to the second resource
  • If this process is assigned to you, you can use the start button (6) to start timing against the process

 

Working to the Schedule

When you assign a resource to a process they will see this on their WIP schedule list, mobile app or printed report. 

The resource works the schedule by recording their time against the processes that they perform using on-screen start | stop buttons or barcode scanning station. As the processes are completed they are removed from the schedule automatically to keep the schedule up to date.

Note:   if you are not interested in recording time, you can nominate processes as 'single scan processes'. this means that only one scan is required at the end of the process to record that it is complete

  • WIP Schedule List: 
    The schedule list in WIP has filters that allow a resource to see processes assigned to them and their departments. The resource can start, stop and complete the schedule using a start button adjacent to the process

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  • Mobile App
    The mobile app is a mobile-friendly webpage that allows the resource to record timing and see the processes on their schedule. It is useful to staff that might be on remote sites

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  • Printed Schedule
    The schedule calendar can be printed in hard copy or filtered and display as a list. The resource would use barcode scanning to 

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