Execute Mode: Job shop scheduling meets manufacturing execution

    Martin Karlowitsch
    May 29, 2018

    In my last blog post in January, I spoke about our roadmap. I informed you that we put some obvious things on hold to spend some time and energy on the not so obvious facets of building and running a product like just plan it. Now, I am excited to share the general availability of a long awaited (obvious) functionality: we call it the Execute Mode

    On the list of ideas we got from all our customers and users, the capability introduced with the Execute Mode is the - by far - most prominent feature request. It enables you to easily integrate information from the shopfloor into your schedule and empowers you to keep your schedule current in a straightforward way. With the Execute Mode, job shop scheduling meets manufacturing execution.

    This blog post is meant to be an introduction into the Execute Mode. It is not the core documentation of it. Within the blog post, I reference a lot of additional learning and enablement material.

    What the Execute Mode is all about

    So far, we treated every task and and job in just plan it as "planned" and hence every task and job could get impacted by changes to the schedule. There was no way to set a task as started and hence to freeze its start date. This is fundamentally changing with the Execute Mode. The purpose of the Execute Mode is to empower you to keep your schedule current by integrating shopfloor data. 

    As such, the Execute Mode enables you

    • to get shopfloor data into just plan it easily
    • to set a task's status to started & finished
    • to easily update your schedule reflecting the current state on the shopfloor

    How the Execute Mode works in general

    Conceptually, the Execute Mode brings a new type of user (in addition to planner and viewer) to just plan it. This is the operator. The role of the operator is to provide the planner with any kind of scheduling-relevant information from the shopfloor.

    Important note: we've built the Execute Mode to facilitate this role. In the first version of the Execute Mode that we roll out as of today, there is no "formal" operator role. The above tasks need to be carried out by somebody with planner rights for the time being. 

    This leads to the following workflow

    • Set shopfloor data. The operator can update tasks with information from the shopfloor. You can set the shopfloor (i.e. actual) start time, the shopfloor finish time, the resource that is actually working on a task, etc. By doing so, we introduce two new task statuses: started and finished. Started tasks are characterized by a fixed start date. They just can get prolonged. Finished tasks stay where they are (they cannot get moved any more), but they do no longer occupy any resources.
    • Approve shopfloor data. A planner can review the submitted shopfloor data and can approve this. This triggers an automatic update of the schedule, which we call "pulse". That means that your schedule will get pulsed to a new planning start (line). The new planning start represents that date of the most recent shopfloor information.

    This process is outlined in the short video sequence below and will get introduced in more details in the remainder of this blog post.

    Execute Mode - Teaser


    Set shopfloor data

    You can access the "set shopfloor data" stage of the Execute Mode via the Execute tab in the menu bar. This opens a view in which you can toggle between Job View and Resource View, quickly navigate from one task to another, and provide data from the shopfloor regarding individual tasks. 

    Execute Mode - Set Shopfloor Data 

    The left part of the "set shopfloor data" stage are, as you have been knowing them, from just plan it. You see the visual schedule in a Job View and a Resource View. The only difference is that you cannot schedule anything when you are in the Execute Mode. Hence, drag & drop does not work here and all scheduling buttons are grayed out. The Execute Mode is just for setting and approving shopfloor data

    The right part of the "set shopfloor data" stage is meant to provide the feedback from the shopfloor about the selected task. Here you can:

    1. Set the shopfloor start date/time
    2. Set the shopfloor finish date/time
    3. Confirm the shopfloor resource
    4. Set and change the shopfloor task status

    By giving this explicit information, the operator also provides an important implicit information. This is the date that represents his most recent feedback. This date marks the date for the (new) yellow pulse-to line. It is the date to which the planning start of the entire schedule will be pushed when the planner approves the shopfloor data.

    This brings me to an important facet of the Execute Mode

    All of the information you provide in the "set shopfloor data" stage will be stored in a separate database. They will not get automatically pushed into the schedule as we are convinced that the planner should sit in the driver's seat. You as planner can decide when to update the schedule with the shopfloor data by approving them. You also can decided to modify them first.

    Approve shopfloor data

    Icon-Execute-ApproveYou can see that there are "to be approved" shopfloor data from the new "enter approval mode" notification icon which is placed both in the Essentials tab and the Execute tab. If you click this icon you get a summary on the data you have ... and on (potentially) missing data.

    Execute Mode - Approve Shopfloor Data

    There are tasks that

    • will get updated according the shopfloor data (marked with green check mark)
    • will get pushed to the yellow pulse-to line as there is no shopfloor data at all (marked with a gray symbol)
    • will get prolonged as they are started and should be finished by the date represented by the pulse-to line (marked with a green symbol)

    Once reviewed, the planner can push the "update schedule with shopfloor data" button and the entire schedule is updated by pushing the planning start to the pulse-to line.

    Getting started with the Execute Mode

    The Execute is not at all a trivial functionality, and it - most likely - will have a major impact on how you work with just plan it going forward. It may take some time until you get used to the concrete behavior of constantly updating the schedule. We would like to help you on this journey and provide no less than a plethora of getting started support.

    1. You need to decide for it ... and switch it on

    The Execute Mode had been rolled out to your accounts already. It is available, but deactivated. We want you to make a conscious decision to go for it. You need to switch it on via the settings.


    Speaking about the settings:

    • When the Execute Mode is switched on, you can no longer change the planning start via settings nor via drag & drop. The only way to change the planning start is via the pulse functionality.
    • We also introduced the field "Days before Planning Start". This defines how long you can look into the history and see finished tasks/jobs. 

    2. Special service for customers: the sandbox

    We have a goodie for paying customers. You can continue to work with just plan it as you are used and - in parallel - play a bit with the Execute Mode. We call this playground the sandbox, and we have one sandbox for each customer. It contains your data as of the moment that we shipped the Execute Mode and should provide you a well-oiled start into the Execute Mode.

    4. Webinar series

    We want to give everybody the chance to get a demo and an explanation of the Execute Mode, to come up with questions and to get answers. Hence, we'll run 4 extra webinars in the next two weeks to introduce and discuss the Execute Mode for you. They are scheduled in a way that - hopefully - everybody around the globe finds a time that works for you:

    • May 29, 5pm CEST (Berlin), 11am EST (New York)
    • May 30, 9am CEST (Berlin)
    • June 5, 9am CEST (Berlin)
    • June 7, 5pm CEST (Berlin), 11am EST (New York)

    What's next?

    The Execute Mode is a first step into making job shop scheduling and manufacturing execution coming together. We are super excited about this first step, but are also committed to making further steps. Such as

    • introducing the operator role with an unique "operator only" user experience
    • allowing the operator to provide information about "remaining time to finish"
    • enabling the operator to send textual status updates to the planner
    • an app for the operator to achieve all of the above
    • etc.

    These are our ideas - for the time being. Due to well-known reasons, I will not share (yet) any information with respect to timing ;-)

    However, our ideas are just one side of the medal. The much more shiny side are your ideas. Would you mind sharing them with me in the comments below?

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