SMB Production Scheduling Blog

Martin Karlowitsch

Martin Karlowitsch

Martin is Managing Director of NETRONIC - The Gantt Solutions Company. He took over the company in 2011 as a management-buy-out. Since then, he is driven by the idea making the Gantt chart a key enabler of operational agility. just plan it is his most recent "baby". When talking about just plan it, he refers to himself as "Chief Enthusiast".

Recent Posts by Martin Karlowitsch:

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

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

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

just plan it 365: production scheduling for Dynamics 365 Business Central

Last week Friday, we received a short message which made us super excited. It came from Microsoft and said: "Congratulations! Your offer 'just plan it 365' has been successfully published and is available publicly." What does this mean? Well, it means that we developed an "app" which we call just plan it 365 and that this app got validated and published on the Microsoft AppSource. With this app we achieve a direct integration between just plan it and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Hence, this app brings an easy and visual production scheduling to any Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central customer.

Product update: pause a task

The last, but not least product update of the year finally rounds up what we introduced earlier this year as Execute Mode. Operators (and also planners acting as operators) now can also pause an already started task. We call this "set on hold". With this new functionality, an operator can virtually split a task into a part that is already done and into a part that needs to get scheduled again (and hence executed at a later point of time). When setting a task on hold, users of a PRO plan can specify the remaining runtime, while users of an ENTERPRISE plan can specify the remaining quantity. 

Topics: Product news

Product update: operator client and refined impact of job status

With the September product update, which we just rolled out to all user accounts, we finally close the loop that we had in mind when releasing the Execute Mode for the first time. From now on, operators working on the shopfloor can provide shopfloor information via any kind of mobile device (PC, tablet, smartphone). When operators log in, they no longer see the visual schedule. Instead, they see a list of jobs and tasks scheduled for their resources and can act on them accordingly.

In addition to this, we refined the impact that the job status (released, ordered, planned) has on the job shop scheduling process. Going forward, the job status will have no more influence on the job's priority (sequence number).

Topics: Product news

Product update: Two new scheduling functions and further enhanced Execute Mode

The monthly update of our job shop scheduling software has just been rolled out into all user accounts. This time, we've added two new scheduling functions and further enhanced the Execute Mode. All new functionalities are eligible for all customers (and trial users) of the Pro and Enterprise plan.

With respect to scheduling, users are now enabled to split a task with the thus created sub tasks being automatically scheduled. In addition to this, you can now specify an integer capacity level for a resource: a resource with a capacity level of 2 will complete a task in half of the time than a resource with a capacity level of 1.

When working with the Execute Mode, we now made it easier to set back the planning start and to bulk reject feedback data set by your operators. Last but not least, a couple of bugs have been fixed.

Topics: Product news

Product update: Operator role, enhanced Execute Mode, new Resource View & more

We just shipped the monthly update of our easy time and resource scheduling software. With the update, we further enhanced the Execute Mode by first introducing the role of the operator who is just tasked with setting data from the shopfloor. Second, we also made it easier for an operator to identify and select the resource that he is supposed to set the data for. In addition to this, we also created a new view for scheduling purposes: it is named the Resource View and just looks at resources without showing the resource groups (as consequence we had to rename the view which had been called Resource View so far). Last but not least, we made a change to the overall menu structure. We know that this might cause an initial confusion, but are confident that this is the right move (in the long run): we re-arranged the main navigation to follow our approach of what we call the visual scheduling cycle: update, understand, schedule, report, execute.

Topics: Product news

Product update: Execute Mode refined plus 3 usability enhancements

We are rolling out a new version of our job shop scheduling software to all customers and trial users. In this update, we enhanced the Execute Mode that we released a month ago. Operators can now also report the "remaining time from now" and leave a textual message on a task. In addition to this, we also added three features that increase the usability of our production scheduling software.

Topics: Product news