Inventory Management
December 10, 2018

Improving Scheduling

SCHEDULING – With conflicting commitments and varying resource availability, how do we keep to our delivery dates ?

A common tool used by production schedulers is a simple planning board where work is allocated to resources in time periods such as an hour, day or week. Others use spreadsheets which are more easily distributed to production staff. However, these are static decision support tools trying to cope with a dynamic problem.

How long will the schedule last before a rush order appears, re-work is required, operators report sick, a machine breaks down, or demand does not match the forecast. Each of these will blow a hole in the production schedule and endless time can be spent re-assigning work, changing priorities or altering process routes to meet promised delivery dates.

Beating your competition requires more than just an excellent product and focused marketing. It’s just as important to provide great customer service by keeping your delivery promises. Keeping costs to a minimum, cutting out waste and making the most of the resources available will also drive margins and profits up. Part of this is keeping capacity in line with demand and being agile enough to respond to the unexpected.

It is important to support shop-floor planning and scheduling where production schedulers and supervisors are expected to use their knowledge and experience to come up with the answers to “when can we ship?”.

Unfortunately, this often leads to “he who shouts loudest” as the only rule that prevails in determining what gets on the priority list. Expediting is unlikely to help in meeting the overall business objectives. It’s not agile enough to use white boards and spreadsheets to do the job. It’s far more important than that. Effective computerised scheduling saves time and money.

Traditional MRPII assumes infinite capacity and simply gives notification when resources are over-utilised. Plans must then be manually balanced using feedback from the capacity planning function.

Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) on the other hand uses finite capacity technology and provides true constrained prioritisation for production scheduling. This means that schedules recommended by APS optimise the finite available capacity. APS quickly considers preferred sequence of manufacture, sequence dependent setups, secondary constraints such as shared resources (tools, setup crew etc) to produce an optimised and balanced schedule.


The Preactor AS Scheduling software provides this advanced scheduling (APS) functionality.