Modern ERP systems often contain a scheduling component, sometimes companies have simple scheduling tools custom made internally, perhaps as simple as a few Excel-sheets or in the most basic case, a Mr. Jones in the factory-office who's been doing it for eons with a pen and paper. In some cases, these are really all that's needed.
Then, perhaps it is time to get Mr. Jones some help from systems that's been solving these problems for over twenty years.
Having all the information about current processes and jobs available, to everyone and in a quick-access manner, is vital to ensure open access and accountability. Many times (if not mostly) people neglect to attend to problems - not because they are lazy or unwilling - but because they didn't know about it in time, or neglected to find out due to difficulty of access to the information.
If someone can see that a job in their responsibility field needs attention, she or he is likely to attend to it (moreso if everyone can see it). Seeing that there is a problem is of course only half the battle - Seeing it as soon as it happens, and immediately understanding what exactly the problem is will determine the speed with which people can attend to the problem.
Once we understand these implications in our processes, one can easily test by asking:
- Can all people see the entire process?
- Can they do so easily?
- Are problems flagged visibly and instantaneously?
- Are the flagged problems clear and descriptive enough to be easily understood?
- Can jobs be scheduled, moved or re-scheduled with ease or perhaps even automatically?
- Are flow constraints (capacity, maintenance, etc.) clear and easily visible?
- Can managers easily see overviews of achieved yields and times, or highlight candidates for improvement?
These are all very important questions, and if you can't answer "Yes" convincingly to all of them, chances are your process is less efficient than you would like.
PlanSys is our flagship system in the manufacturing and production sector, and while it's somewhat involved for a quick discussion (demonstrations often take several hours), we would like to show some highlights covering the points made above:
(Please Note: The following example images are all from actual live systems, so some sensitive values are obscured here, but in the working systems they appear normal.)
Everyone has easy access to see all schedule information, Job information and processing statistics. Of course stringent access-control allows only specific people to schedule, change or update information with respect to their individual roles, but everyone can see what is going on, nobody is left in the dark.
To maximize this ideal, PlanSys supports:
Making information easy to read, finding the right balance between clustering relevant information and highlighting important bits so that anyone can, with a single glance, tell exactly where in the process a job is, how healthy a job is or if something is wrong, what that might be.
In this first example, this is a standard job listing with coloured status markers, yield status, notes and relevant indications all in one place and easy to follow:
If that information doesn't provide all the answers, simply double-click the item to open up a full view of the details of the job, its scheduling information, progress and most importantly - its full history tracking details:
The ability to see an overview of the entire plan for the next few months for all manufacturing/production lines in the factory (or section of it) is paramount to fully determining exposure to and dependence on those capacity factors.
This is a section of a schedule showing which lines run into capacity problems (for example the lines runnig longer than the rest in the bottom half). The bright blue verticle line is "Today", the dim blue vertical columns are week-ends and every red verticle line is a month-end. The small blocks represent different production lines (vertically) and calendar days (horizontally):
Seeing the overview is very informative, but of course being able to "Zoom" in and reveal the detail is vital to planning how to alleviate the congestion. There are very many small features and information locked into colours and markers, more than can be discussed here, but to a seasoned scheduler or manager using this system, it quickly details a wealth of information that allow faster and more-informed planning decisions:
Schedules can be viewed and edited per area or per line with easy drag-drop interfaces and a plethora of information packed into the colours, markers and writing - again this provides a very fast reference, and anyone using it for a while is able to see with a quick glance exactly what the statuses of jobs in an area are or any problems being experienced by those jobs:
Note: The colours and markers both are fully configurable. At this factory, the "VC" marker indicates a client-validation batch, Yellow jobs are being picked, green jobs are ready to go and pink-ish jobs are being made on the line, and that red block is a problematic Job. Gray jobs are done. Different zoom levels will clear up detail and relax congestion of the visuals, but it allows quick transformation between "Overview" and "Detail" style viewing.
Full information on the production line or Job detail is, as always, just a click away via context menus or quick-access buttons.
The Plan may also be printed in part or in it's entirety, making it easy to share with factory floor personnel that might not have access to computer terminals, or to discuss a specific problem area in a meeting.
Different plan-views exist to make it easier for other relevant users to achieve their tasks. This next view is a custom-designed view of the plan specifically to inform the Ware-house Pickers on which Jobs to pick for next:
It's all good to be able to schedule something to happen, but did it happen? Did it happen correctly and fully? Was there any problem, and if so, what was it?
These are the questions that usually haunts operations managers/directors and which factory managers are always under pressure to answer for. With PlanSys it's made easy in a simple set of views that can be tailored and filtered to see specifics or provide an overview. This example shows two shifts for a single factory with all the relevant information and totals:
Some of the RIFIN people have been studying and improving (or trying to!) manufacturing and production scheduling for more than 20 years (since the late 90's). PlanSys (in stand-alone system form) started life in early 2003 at a client who, after a very successful implementation of a different system, asked us to assist with the nightmare that was Scheduling. We learned as much from them as they did from us, they were experts at difficult scheduling, but had to do so on archaic systems.
A long-term evolution began of achieving goals, then refining and re-thinking scheduling behaviour, from all of the product's, the factory's and the human's perspectives. Seemless integration with main-stream ERP systems and later with on-line functionality became design goals. More clients with similar needs came on-board, and later clients with widely different needs. The system was re-designed from the ground up in 2009 to accommodate all these ideals.
Seven years later, in 2016 another overhaul started, now with the newest available technologies, the cumulative experience of the RIFIN systems architects, and clients old and new, PlanSys has evolved to become possibly the best scheduling system available anywhere - at least as far as manufacturing and production-line goods factories are concerned.
Let us know (by clicking the link below) if you think there is room for improvement with your Scheduling and would like to see what the future could be.