Best 4 practices to run a smooth job shop schedule

    Paulina Soto
    November 17, 2020
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    How it all started

    Since our first dive into the ERP world we have the constant opportunity to work alongside leading-edge make-to-order manufacturers from all continents. We got to know a lot about them, how they work, how they prioritize, how they look at scheduling, and how important it is for them to be a trusted partner to their customers.

    What caught our attention the most, was to realize what these make-to-order companies had in common. This starts with their daily struggles to the practices that lead to a better run of their high-mix low-volume production scheduling.

    While working with them, we actually identified four best practices to run a smooth job shop schedule (and they are somewhat the conceptual backbone of our just plan it software).

    The below is a short summary of these best practices. If you want to dig deeper into everything that is important for make-to-order manufacturers, please have a look at our ultimate guide to visual job shop scheduling

    What we learned as four job shop schedule best practices:


    Einstein once said “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know” and we couldn’t agree more. When running a shop floor the more you know the better.

    Planners need to understand what is happening on the shop floor. As well as the reasons behind it. What? When? Where? Why? How? Who? Once all information is gathered it gets easier to tackle any issues that may rise, such as, impacts of squeezing rush orders, fixing bottlenecks, addressing efforts per job, etc.

    It’s important to have a clear definition of roles, authorities and responsibilities but always allowing others to have a view of the schedule.

    2. Delivery time commitments are king

    Timing can mean everything. Sometimes keeping up with due dates can make a difference between succeeding or losing business, even if it comes to only a couple of minutes of delay.

    Picture this: You’re about to host your own grand-opening ceremony, press is ready, family and friends are there, catering is prepared, decorations are set. But the delivery from the ribbon that should be cut is nowhere to be seen. What would you cut then?

    Once transparency is established, it should be geared towards delivery times, and delivery time commitments. If you can make better commitments, you will increase your on-time-deliveries. If you increase your OTDs, you will have happier customers and they are likely to return.

    As a job shop, returning customers are key to your success. Keep them happy with reliable delivery time commitments. Do not use the transparency you establish to focus on machine utilization first. It is actually totally OK to have idle times in a non-bottleneck work center when you are a job shop.

    Job shop schedule best practices

    Only if and when you can leverage your job shop schedule's transparency to have full control over your delivery times, start with ...

    3. Improving the utilization of machines

    Once you know what’s happening where, the way to optimizing the capacities of your machines becomes apparent. You can identify and group similar processes and set up to minimize machine configuration time, discover and decrease idle time, take action over additional run time that can significantly cut down on delays and more.

    4. Maximizing the throughput

    With giving better delivery time commitments, and a continuous improvement of your machine utilization, you get to a state where you control your schedule, and where you plan ahead. From the shop floor layout to the scheduling prioritization.

    You will better process your jobs through their shop, you will deliver earlier. Thanks to the earlier delivery and the more controlled execution, you actually can fulfill more orders - without investing in new machines, and without increasing work orders.

    Job shop scheduling let's you do more with less. But you need a proper software to make this happen.

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