SMB Production Scheduling Blog

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

Why is job shop scheduling important?

Whether you are planning a meal for some friends or a holiday trip, having a schedule in place is essential. Same is true for a job shop production. Essentially, the goal is to match supply and demand. On the one side, supply includes the capacities, resources, labor and the available material in the job shop. On the other side, the demand encompasses the actual job orders including the according resources and capacities needed to complete the job. Job shop scheduling aims to combine these two components, internal supply and demand, in the most optimal way possible. Therefore, having a proper schedule in place is a crucial value proposition for job shop managers.

Topics: Job Shop Scheduling

Production scheduling - the 3 critical factors for success

A transparent plan and reliable delivery commitments are the core challenges manufacturers are facing – especially when they run a job shop with high mix - low volume. Therefore coming back to any kind of scheduling tool is indispensable at a certain point of business scale. The market offers a various range of different scheduling approaches for different situations and with different focus. Hence it is definitely worth to invest a broad space of time upfront to test different options and to investigate which is the best solution for your business.

But in practice one can see in a lot of cases that the scheduling efforts after this “investment period” ramp down and often scheduling tools disappear on the Q.T. So it is not only necessary to find the right tool, it is even more critical to use this in the appropriate way. This blog deals with the three critical factors that determine the success of production scheduling when using a scheduling tool.

Topics: Scheduling Best Practices Job Shop Scheduling

Which production scheduling approach is the best for your manufacturing business?

Whether one tries to manage a large production company, a small job shop or simply one’s own working day, having a plan is of utmost importance. In fact, whenever different activities have to be allocated to certain resources under several constraints, a schedule is a necessity. Certainly, there is not the one scheduling approach that outperforms any other under all circumstances; A simple calendar might be suitable for a student trying to schedule his day, a small manufacturer might use improvised scheduling tools like Microsoft Excel or a whiteboard, whereas large production firms make use of scheduling algorithms that can optimize complex production plans. In short, scheduling challenges have a broad variety that can be handled efficiently in different ways: from simple analogue timetables to heavy software packages. This post provides guidance in terms of which scheduling approach is suitable for which kind of manufacturer.

Topics: Scheduling Best Practices Job Shop Scheduling

What is job shop scheduling?

We reviewed the performance of our website in 2018, and also analyzed the traction we got for the various types of content we produced. Moreover, we also talked with some of our customers and users and asked them what topics they are interested in and what they want us to cover (more).

There is a clear evidence: in general folks like our product-related information as it helps them make better use of just plan it and it keeps them current. However, in 2018 they missed general-purpose information that relates with their industry and with the general issue of production scheduling and job shop scheduling

Hence, here is our new year's resolution for 2019: we will continue to update you on what is happening in terms of new functions and features. In 2019, this will be complemented by us writing much more on general production scheduling and job shop scheduling questions. This post is meant to be the first of a post series dealing with all facets of job shop scheduling.

Topics: Job Shop Scheduling

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