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30% decrease in WIP with purpose-built software for HMLV

Executive summary

"I've known for a long time that I needed to have scheduling support for our orders. But it's so hard to find the right scheduling software if you are a high-mix low-volume manufacturer," David Cohen, General Manager of Edge Fabrication described the situation before he got to know just plan it (jpi). Today, Edge Fabrication - a customer of the E2 Shoptech ERP system - plans its custom fabricated sheet metal products with the production scheduling software jpi and a specific jpi app called Priority Plus. By this, they achieve a 30% reduction in WIP while their order volume increases

Production scheduling before

David had long been dissatisfied with the EPR's functionality when it comes to production scheduling :

"Due date was a big drama in the company. We had a lack of control what was going on on the shop floor. We could hardly predict how long the production of the job would take".

In practice, the jobs of the individual work cells were displayed via dashboards. They just listed them strictly in the order of the delivery date, from top to bottom. There was no holistic view. Planning interventions were not possible.  Rescheduling, such as bringing a long job forward or starting a job late, could not be calculated with the system. The whole scheduling process was very rudimentary.

About Edge Fabrication

Edge Fabrication is a family-owned precision sheet metal company based in Irving, Texas. They are specialized in custom sheet metal fabrication, laser cutting, and assembly – prototype to production. They are well known for high product quality and excellent customer-centric service. Customers come from medical, energy, transportation, DOD, HVAC, automotive, and other crucial industries.


About job shop scheduling

Have look at our ultimate guide to visual job shop scheduling if you want to take a deep dive into this topic.

Production scheduling today

So it was clear that a more advanced and better fitting software-based scheduling solution was needed. First, Edge Fabrication had to gain more control over the shop floor. Second, they needed to become more flexible in scheduling jobs, without losing sight of the delivery date. But it was not easy to find an appropriate solution, said David:

"There are very few software products on the market that are aligned with HMLV manufacturers' requirements. I am very happy that we found jpi and the Priority Plus app, because this "combo" takes into account exactly our needs." 

Before working with just plan it due date was the only way to decide upon reordering jobs. With jpi and Priority Plus Edge Fabrication now schedules the jobs according to a suggested release date, which includes a buffer to accommodate unforeseen challenges (machine is down, people get sick, material availability).  Working with this buffer helps to improve the flow and hence reduces the WIP. After a job is released, jpi provides a priority suggestion showing which jobs have a higher likelihood of not finishing on time. The users can quickly set priority sequences for multiple jobs and update jpi. 

Integrating and using just plan it

The integration of jpi into the ERP system is simple: it is achieved via the Priority Plus app, which is built on the jpi API. However, Priority Plus delivers more than just the data interface: It also provides an additional user interface, which is a bit Excel-style. Hence, this interface is familiar to many users. With Priority Plus, the production manager can manually change the suggested release dates and thus influence the sequence of the jobs. The jpi scheduling engine then recalculates all operations and resource allocations and visualizes them in a graphical planning board.

Thus, this combines the familiarity of an Excel-style user interface with a powerful scheduling engine and the transparency coming from a visual scheduler. 

For Edge Fabrication, as a high-mix low-volume manufacturer, jpi is the ideal software for several aspects:

Purpose-built: With jpi, they can map exactly the processes that are typical for the individual production of highly customized products in a high-mix low-volume environment.

Integration: The software can be easily integrated with the ERP system E2 Shoptech via the Priority Plus app.

Responsive: Rescheduling is easy and they can react quickly to changes.

Improved internal communication: jpi makes the production schedule transparent. It provides a holistic view, and the impacts of rush orders on other jobs become very obvious. This eases the communication between sales and production. 

Grow and change with the company: Even if the company decides one day to use another ERP system, jpi can still be used for scheduling, as it is not tied to any specific ERP.

jpi and Priority Plus brings a very large increase in control and organization. They are like a north star that give us directions: now everybody in sales and production can see what is more important