In addition, communication between the shop floor and the Production Planner needs to be timely and accurate. It’s no good developing a plan if the shop floor operators are not recording where they are on each operation – e.g. operation started, operation paused (and why), operation completed (and how many parts finished?). Otherwise, you how will you know if the plan is being kept to? And what are causes of any delays?
A Typical Example
Job No: 680: No. of parts: 300
So, what could be done to increase the buffer period? Could the sub-contract heat treatment operation be done in less than seven days? Could we overlap operations? If so, what impact would that have?
Also, this just shows one job! What if another job on the Lathe runs late? If I make changes, what will be the impact on other jobs?
Just a simple routing like this can throw up complex issues that are extremely difficult to resolve. With dozens of work centres and many jobs being processed each month, maintaining control of the schedule becomes a very daunting task using just a spreadsheet – it’s very much “finger in the air” - and unsurprising leads to late deliveries.
How can a Scheduler Help?
Further to this, a planning tool can make it easier to resolve those complex issues through the following methods:
Maybe your machine group can process many of the same jobs, but of different sizes. Can your planner automatically allocate parts that will only fit in the biggest machine? or does the planner need to know before assigning the job?
Getting your team to clock-on and clock-off jobs with some form of barcode or touch-screen data capture solution can alert the scheduler when operations run late can inform the scheduler and can alter schedules according to the change in resource availability.
Recording when an operation is started would immediately move the operation forward and set the status to “WIP”. Recording when an operation is paused and how many parts were completed can indicate to the scheduler how much additional time will be required to complete the operation. If the actual cycle time is different to the estimate, an advanced scheduling system should be able to re-calculate the projected end time – either bringing it forward or moving it out.
We’d all love our machines to run consistently at 100% but this virtually never happens. With an advanced scheduler, you should be able to build in a buffer for short down-time periods and clean up to provide a more realistic projection of job/operation end time.
And with the right reporting tools, you're be able to analyse what's really going on and understand how to improve it moving forwards.
More Accurate Delivery Dates
In a really advanced system, your sales team should be able to perform 'what-if' analysis, and see how taking on a job might affect other jobs you have on. Will it make them late? Will it place a greater burden on a specific supplier? What's their availability. All this can help you ensure you will realistically be able to deliver on all jobs you take on before accepting them.
A Scheduler isn't a Magic Pill
It's important to note the following situations:
- No scheduling/planning system will be effective without process adherence.
- If operation setting & cycle times are either not set or set inaccurately, the system won’t work.
- If operators don’t logon/logoff operations and communicate with the scheduler, the system won’t work.
- If delivery/target completion dates are not realistic, the system won’t work.
- If capacity/shift patterns are not set correctly, the system won’t work.
Can a Scheduler Improve Your Delivery Performance
At Tricorn, we offer Europe's leading Scheduler that integrates seamlessly with our Tricorn: Production, SFDC and Dashboard products to provide real-time updates, what-if analysis, and automated scheduling that is visible throughout your business.
The Tricorn: Scheduler has helped our customers improve on-time delivery and customer retention, leading to winning new work and new customers.
If you need help to achieve your delivery targets, our team are happy to help. Please contact us.