How to Optimize Your Manufacturing Scheduling System

Kulasekar Sethupathy April 30, 2015

manufacturing_scheduling_systemOf the many initiatives companies can (and do) take to optimize time-to-market and boost productivity, the most effective often deal with processes within manufacturing, and the efficiency of systems and technology used.

You wouldn’t continue to use a piece of production equipment if more beneficial, high-return alternatives were possible. This is also the case for the scheduling systems you integrate throughout your manufacturing line.

In this article, we break down ways major manufacturers have been able to achieve full scheduling optimization, and the steps you can take to generate similar results.

How Manual Scheduling Reduces Production Efficiency

When bringing up a manufacturing scheduling system, one of the first things that comes to mind is time; time drained on tedious, manual scheduling, and the challenges that ensue. 

Typically within manufacturing, scheduling is comprised of manual planning, checks and balances, and data aggregation. Compiling this information and using it to draft a seamless manufacturing schedule manually can eat up significant time and resources, putting a noticeable restraint on productivity.

Even with committed scheduling software and automation systems, many manufacturers fail to truly integrate these solutions throughout the product lifecycle. Manual or semi-automated scheduling do not usually account for the following factors, which are critical in maintaining a productive manufacturing environment:

  • Adaptability; dynamic reaction to changing production objectives and plant requirements.
  • Zero down-time during reaction to material needs on the plant floor.
  • Interconnectivity; data and scheduling standardization between all stages in the product lifecycle. This enables full part and process traceability, and sets the stage for future lean development initiatives.

The most effective way to optimize scheduling is by limiting or outright avoiding manual tasks altogether, and instead using fully-integrated scheduling automation to get the job done. It’s not just the most practical solution, but also the most productive.

Optimizing Scheduling With Automated, Dynamic Systems

While there are a number of strategies you can implement to improve scheduling tasks within manufacturing, the most effective is making the investment into automation technology.

The best scheduling systems in the business tackle all manufacturing tasks automatically, which preserves resources and boosts productivity - ultimately leading to a more lean manufacturing lifecycle. The following are some of the most common scheduling software features to consider when evaluating your options:

  • Pre-manufacturing planning, including materials (raw requirements for production) and labor (employee rosters, time constraints and perceived cost)
  • Process capacities
  • Product/part demand and ordering
  • Master manufacturing schedules, in accordance with factory constraints in product changes, plan size and product type
  • In-progress manufacturing scheduling
  • Machine and system routing

Systems like these operate to their fullest potential when installed at all stages of the product lifecycle; in these configurations, they automate every individual scheduling task for a seamless, high-turnover lifecycle. Operating in real-time and featuring multi-user, multi-plant collaboration tools, automated scheduling software makes it possible for manufacturers to truly optimize scheduling throughout an entire enterprise.

What Improved Scheduling Means for Your Business

Scheduling automation and dynamic software systems bear a multitude of benefits for manufacturers, mostly dealing with efficiency and higher product turnover rates (these rates, of course, being linked with higher profitability). At the floor level, the ability to adapt to sudden changes and operational adjustments is invaluable; this is what makes automated scheduling software so worthwhile within the manufacturing scope.

Beyond this adaptability, automated scheduling software helps companies gain an upper hand in combatting price sensitivity, and push products to market in a more efficient manner. During production, scheduling solutions like these can help your company by:

  • Facilitating faster, more consistent production in high volumes
  • Providing full visibility over scheduling tasks
  • Real-time handling and rescheduling to limit down-time
  • Automated data validation prior to scheduling
  • Reducing setup time, and the related costs
  • Improving response time to potential scheduling issues

Optimizing your current scheduling configuration is just one step your company can take in creating a lean production development. For the best results in reducing time-to-market and lowering product cost, manufacturers must go all-in with lean development and streamline their operations from start to finish.

Manufacturing_Excellence_Through_Lean_Initiatives

Topics Time to Market Manufacturing Execution Systems