Manufacturing scheduling is the process of optimizing the utilization of all available manufacturing resources including staffing, machinery, inventories, work-in-process (WIP), and the associated manufacturing processes to produce sales orders and maximize production efficiency.
Manufacturing scheduling, also known as production scheduling, is conducted in a production planning and scheduling system. Typically this system gets its data about the state of the production facility and availability of manufacturing resources through direct integration with other production management systems including enterprise resource planning (ERP systems), manufacturing execution (MES systems), and material resource planning (ERP systems).
An effective manufacturing schedule is critical to manufacturing operations because it improves throughput, reduces changeovers, reduces machine downtime, improves resource utilization, increases due date adherence, and minimizes the scheduling time itself.
The first stage of manufacturing scheduling is the production planning and control phase. This refers to taking stock of all resources necessary to complete the production task. These resources include any raw materials and components, labor requirements and available staff, equipment, workstations, and anything else required across the entire set of production procedures.
Production will utilize an overall path, from receipt of materials to product delivery, as well as a series of job-specific routes. These paths and routes will need to be identified and planned out to ensure a streamlined, unified workflow from start to finish.
The scheduling phase of the process draws upon data to ensure that all the different components of the production process are managed accordingly. Production schedules and sequences are created and optimized using manufacturing scheduling software. The advantage here is that you are not left needing to guess or estimate which resources are required for each new order, as the schedule will provide this information to you.
Even with planning, routing, and scheduling in place, a degree of management will still be required during the execution stage. You may need to make alterations or implement specific orders to keep production progressing in the right manner.
Demand-oriented planning is a demand management strategy that identifies the market demand and then proactively optimizes production to fill this demand. It does not take into account any possible fluctuations in this demand or any future demand, and there are no surplus products produced once the demand is filled. In theory, this means no wasted resources and no products leftover in storage that could be lost to wastage.
Total demand planning is a very simple way of matching production speed and capability to demand. The idea is to identify the total demand for a product and then leverage the maximum possible capacity from your production systems in an effort to achieve this. The calculation is relatively simple, so this model can be achieved even without high-level software in place, although calculation errors can prove costly -- particularly as project complexity increases.
Businesses can gain a more accurate production forecast by applying enterprise scheduling software to the total demand planning process. With more powerful data insight, the production plan is tied directly to the assessed capacity of the facility, making precise calculations easier to achieve. In turn, the facility is able to hit maximum capacity and meet demand in a more reliable manner.
High-flexibility planning provides agility to your business as you will have all of the components and materials available to you, ready for use within bespoke, made-to-order products. This is not suitable for all business models, but it is useful when you need to launch a highly personalized product designed according to the specifications of a particular customer.
Inventory surplus planning is basically the inverse of high-flexibility planning. Rather than keeping materials and components in stock ready for production, a full production run is carried out immediately, converting all of these materials and components into products ready to stock. If you are launching and promoting a new product, this may be a useful strategy as you will have all of the products ready to ship to buyers immediately, with no delay. It's also a useful tactic when anticipating increased seasonal demand.
Sequential planning involves working forwards from the first step in the manufacturing production line and planning each subsequent step that leads to the finalization of the finished product. An order comes in, and the chain of events is set in motion, completing each of the pre-determined manufacturing tasks in sequence to achieve a product that is ready for market. Synchronicity is required, however, as the sequential planning model works according to singular orders. Another order that comes in before the first order is complete may be delayed as the resources it requires to proceed in sequence are already in use.
Inverted sequential planning is, as the name suggests, the reverse of sequential planning. The delivery of the product is considered to be the first step in the planning procedure, and planning works backward from there. Production processes are still completed in sequence, but each incremental step does not begin until the pre-determined time. This is a useful model for time-sensitive products that need to be delivered within a set timeframe after production is completed. The model also eliminates the need for extended storage of products after completion.
While both are part of operations scheduling, the key difference between Master Production Scheduling, or MPS, and manufacturing scheduling is in the division of time across the planning process. The MPS, a type of manufacturing production schedule, draws upon data points such as demand forecasts, customer requirements, system capacity, inventory and production costs, and total lead time. The planning horizon is divided into equal time periods, and the business gains insight into the production amounts that can be achieved in that timeframe, as well as resource, personnel, and cost requirements for each time period.
Manufacturing scheduling works differently. The planning horizon is shorter, and each stage of the production process is factored into one continuous timeline. This timeline encompasses the entire production chain, from initial order receipt to product delivery, rather than dividing production up into discrete blocks. Scheduling in this way helps to eliminate bottlenecks and inefficiencies by optimizing each step of the production process.
Optessa provides Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) software designed to integrate with existing digital platforms such as ERP, MES, and MRP systems. Our next-generation production scheduling solution utilizes patented constraint-driven, supply chain optimization technology to improve scheduling in one facility or streamline the planning and scheduling process across your global ecosystem. Reach out to our team to discover more.