SMB Production Scheduling Blog

7 tips how to meet scheduling targets in a high-mix low-volume shop

The vast majority of all manufacturing companies worldwide are small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). E.g. according to NAM, more than 98% of all American manufacturers have less than 500 employees. As a lot of these small companies master its technical challenges pretty well they steadily grow, or they even become "hidden champions".

At tipping point to grow most job shop manufacturers, by experience, come to the conclusion that scheduling with Excel (or any other homegrown system) does not make any sense anymore. They see the need to take scheduling to the next level. When they do not act fast on this insight and when their customers continue to request more and more deliveries, improper scheduling even prevents these companies from further growth. Reason is: they fully lose their insight of what is going on at the shop-floor, they fully drain off their scheduling targets and lose the ability to make reliable deliver time commitments.

Reaching this point – and many SMBs out there do – running an appropriate scheduling tool becomes crucial. Concerning the scheduling targets there is pretty much unity as more than 95% state: "reliable delivery commitments", "maximization of throughput", and "optimization of capacity utilization".

Topics: Machine shop scheduling Scheduling Best Practices Job Shop Scheduling

Enhancements of the Reports module

We just shipped a new version of our easy job shop scheduling software. This time, we spent a lot of efforts on some internal code cleansing and stabilization. In addition to this, we also enhanced the Reports module to provide you with even more meaningful data points when running reports. First, you now can also define an own "time unit for reporting". That means, that you can e.g. schedule in minutes, but run reports in hours. Second, we now allow you to differentiate process time, cycle time and throughput time - both on job and on task level.

Topics: Product news

Is production scheduling the golden key to working capital management?

Regardless of the industry, size, or production characteristics of a company, working capital management is an essential practice in running a business smoothly. Working capital management is the strategy used to manage current liabilities and current assets. Efficient working capital management ensures that the company holds enough liquidity to meet short-term expenses and debt. Without sufficient cash available, the company risks not being able to meet expenses quickly. At the same time, holding more working capital is costly. Therefore, it is crucial for any business to balance its working capital efficiently.

Having a proper production scheduling system in place ensures visibility and clarity over current and future production processes. Consequently, it reduces the level of uncertainty and reports directly into working capital management. Is production scheduling the key to efficient working capital management? Also, does it hold for more volatile production environments like HMLV (high-mix, low-volume) businesses? Let's dig deeper into the components of working capital management and the role of production scheduling.

Topics: Job Shop Scheduling

Product update: Enhanced Execute & Reporting Module functionality

The monthly update of our job shop scheduling software has just been rolled out a couple of days ago. But we couldn't resist to add another two goodies shortly thereafter and further enhanced the Execute and Reporting Module functionality. In this blog I briefly explain what we did and how it will help you.

Topics: Product news

A critical factor of successful production scheduling: „establish a routine“

There are many approaches of production scheduling and there are many critical factors overall. But if you want to boil it down then - in my eyes - you end up in the challenge of establishing a routine of a regular scheduling process. What does that imply? Let´s have a closer look to the single components to consider.

Topics: Scheduling Best Practices Job Shop Scheduling

Product update: New User Management functionality and further enhanced Execute & Report Module

The monthly update of our job shop scheduling software has just been rolled out. This time, we've added several new useful functions which are eligible for all customers (and trial users) of the base plans (FREE, Starter & Full) and the two modules Execute Mode and Reporting.

Topics: Product news

How we finally figured out that production scheduling was broken

"Believe me Martin, this won't work." He did not give me any chance to answer or ask why. But he emphasized his point: "I have been in production scheduling the past 25 years."

Then he shared his lessons learned: "No factory is like the other. Each manufacturer has its own processes. Hence, they all manage and schedule in a different manner. Production scheduling only works if you customize it. It needs to support the individual manufacturer's processes. This is common sense and you should trust me."

Well, this was not what I wanted to hear.

For almost two years, I had been making a consistent observation. This observation made me think I had a smart idea for a brand new product. Or even a new product category. I had been noodling on this idea for quite a while. Finally, I was confident enough to discuss it. And I dared to ask a recognized industry expert for feedback. 

"But my discussions with many small make-to-order manufacturers speak a different language. They want something simple, something visual and … ", was my attempt to make my point again.

He didn't let me finish my thought. He was so convinced that I was on a completely wrong track, that he interrupted me again.

Topics: Backstage

The basics of visual job shop scheduling

In the my blog posts about 'what is job shop scheduling' and why it is important, I made the point that having a proper job shop scheduling tool in place is essential. Let’s add a subtle, but extremely valuable, element to that: Visual job shop scheduling. As mentioned already, one benefit of job shop scheduling is gaining transparency and visibility over a production. Including a focus on visuals, this aspect is taken to another level.

Topics: Job Shop Scheduling

Introducing automatic payments for our production scheduling software

The year 2018 had been fantastic for our just plan it production scheduling software. We again more than doubled our number of customers paying for just plan it. In our assessment, by this we definitively reached the milestone that software companies call "confirmed product/market fit". This typically is a milestone at which you start thinking about growth and scale. Well, among others "scale" then translates into "more automation". In that regard, we already made a lot of hidden changes to the just plan it architecture in 2018 to allow a more seamless and continuous deployment of product enhancements and bug fixes into the live system. However, what we still kept manual (before getting product/market fit confirmed) was billing and payments. Time to change this.

Topics: Product news

More custom-made production scheduling: Making just plan it modular

In the first quarter of this year, we put our energy on a major redesign of the architecture of our software. Thus we reacted to a core request customers and trial users have been asking us consistently: This has been the request for a more flexible, customer-tailored software "packaging". Here is a sample question we heard endless times: "I like the PRO plan, but would like to add templates to it". As a consequence, we made just plan it modular ... and now facilitate a much more custom-made usage of our production scheduling software. You can define your just plan it "configuration" by your own, and hence just use and pay what you require.

Topics: Product news