Production scheduling dashboard - an essential tool for job shop managers

    July 13, 2023


    In HMLV production it can be challenging to achieve high levels of efficiency due to the frequent changeovers and setups required for producing different products. A production dashboard is a valuable tool for managers helping to control production by monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from the top level. We identified 4 main KPIs managers should monitor to gain more efficiency and profitability.

    Graphical planning board vs production dashboard

    First of all, everyone in a job shop knows a planning board, whether it is a physical board, or is created with Excel, or generated via scheduling software. However, only a few of the small companies use a dashboard to monitor production from a higher level. Many find the effort involved in creating and maintaining an additional planning tool too high, are far too busy with day-to-day operations, and see too little added value in a dashboard. 

    The added value of a dashboard becomes clear when you consider the differences between a planning board and a dashboard.

    A graphical planning board displays production orders, operations, and resources in a Gantt chart, oriented to the timeline. It helps planners to interactively schedule and manage jobs and tasks. It typically shows the status of tasks or jobs, with different colors or symbols representing different stages of completion. Hence it provides all the necessary details needed for finite scheduling.

    πŸ‘‰10 key functions a digital graphical planning board for HMLV must offer 

    Similar to a graphical planning board, a production dashboard serves to visualize and present data from production, but based on aggregated figures and from a much higher level. Graphical formats are such as graphs, charts, or tables. Instead of detailed information about jobs and tasks, it provides an overview of key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics from the outcome of a business. KPIs can be revenue, sales, on-time delivery, lead time, and others, depending on the goal of the business. In larger organizations, dashboards have long been used by managers and executives to monitor production efficiency and productivity and make data-driven decisions. Monitoring KPIs is just as important in the case of small businesses to achieve a long-term profitable business, and setting up and monitoring the data with today's software tools is no longer costly either. That is why it is important for them to engage with production dashboards today.

    Elements of a production dashboard

     The main elements of a dashboard are:

    • Key performance indicators (KPIs): The production dashboard includes a set of KPIs that are relevant to the business's goals and objectives. These may include metrics such as on-time delivery, inventory levels, resource utilization, etc. 

    • Real-time data: The dashboard provides real-time data on the production process, allowing managers to monitor performance and identify issues as they arise.

    • Data visualization: The dashboard presents data in a visual format that is easy to understand and interpret. This may include charts, graphs, and other visualizations that allow managers to quickly identify trends and patterns.

    • Drill-down functionality: The dashboard allows managers to drill down into the data to investigate specific issues or areas of concern. This can help identify root causes and develop effective solutions.

    • Past-Present-Futur data: A dashboard tracks KPIs over time. It stores historical data, uses real-time (present) data and, if it is integrated into a production scheduling solution, also works with future data. This allows the manager to monitor both the quality of the outcome of the shop floor as well as the quality of the process on the shop floor.

    Today's dashboard software tools are generally customizable to meet the specific needs of the business, like the ability to add or remove KPIs, adjust data visualization settings, and set custom alerts or notifications. They usually include customizable APIs to integrate with existing production scheduling software.

    4 main KPIs in a high-mix low-volume production

    High-mix low-volume (HMLV) manufacturers are very individual in regard to products and hence production processes, so key performance indicators in this production environment are difficult to define. 

    When we recently enhanced the production dashboard in our production scheduling software just plan it, we identified 4 common KPIs that are important to successfully monitor and manage HMLV production:

    1. On-time delivery (OTD) is a critical schedule factor for almost all HMLV manufacturers that managers must keep in mind. In our just plan it production dashboard we measure the rate of orders that are delivered to the customer on or before the promised delivery date compared to delayed orders. 

    2. Throughput time measures the time at which a production system or process can produce a specific product or set of products. Obviously, in HMLV production it is difficult to achieve high throughput levels, due to the frequent changeovers and setups required for producing different products. To get a better understanding of a good throughput level for a balanced production we sum up the process time and the waiting time of a job and visualize it in the just plan it dashboard in rows. If the percentage of waiting time is too high it is most likely that you have too much workload for a capacity that ends in a bottleneck.

    3. Work in progress (WIP) refers to the unfinished products or components that are in the production process at any given time. In just plan it we visualize the number of planned jobs, the number of started jobs, and the number of finished jobs in monthly rows.

    4. Resource utilization measures how much of your available resources you are using and you can easily see if they are completely utilized or underutilized. In just plan it we visualize the percentage of utilization and idle time of each resource.

    production dashboard KPIsproduction dashboard resource utilization

    Other useful KPIs can be scrap & rework rates, cycle time, or inventory levels. It very much depends on the business.

    Important: Only if you regularly check production against KPIs you can make continuous improvements. Therefore, job shop managers should look at the data in the dashboard on a daily or at least weekly basis in order to identify undesirable developments in production at an early stage.

    πŸ† The production excellence dashboard of just plan it 

    Preliminary work to do

    There are a few preliminary considerations before working with a dashboard:

    1. Define your key performance indicators (KPIs): Before creating a dashboard, it's important to identify the KPIs that are most important to your business. For HMLV manufacturers we recommend the 4 KPIs OTD, WIP, Throughput, and Resource Utilization.

    2. Choose a dashboard tool: Choose a tool that meets your needs and has the capability to integrate with your existing systems. For our production scheduling software just plan it we developed a data interface to PowerBI, for example, so our users can easily activate a powerful dashboard with real-time data right away.

    3. Create your dashboard: visualize your KPIs in a way that is easy to understand and monitor. This could include charts, graphs, and tables.

    4. Use real-time data: Ensure that your dashboard is updated in real time so that you can monitor the production process as it happens. 

    5. Empower your team: Make the dashboard available to your production team and empower them to use it to monitor their own performance. This will help create a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

    Define your individual KPIs

    If you are unsure, which KPIs you need to monitor in your business, try to answer the following questions: 

    • What is the goal of the manufacturing process? This could be to increase production efficiency, reduce costs, improve product quality, or meet customer demand, among other things.

    • What are the critical success factors for achieving this goal? For example, if the goal is to increase production efficiency, critical success factors may include reducing downtime, minimizing changeover times, or improving the utilization of equipment and personnel.

    • What are the key activities or processes involved in manufacturing? This could include activities such as material handling, assembly, testing, packaging, and shipping.

    • What are the performance metrics that are most relevant to each of these activities or processes? For example, relevant metrics for material handling may include inventory accuracy or lead time, while relevant metrics for testing may include defect rate or test cycle time.

    • How will performance be measured and tracked? This could involve implementing a data collection and reporting system, using software or tools to automate data collection, or setting up regular reporting and review processes. 

    Who we are

    just plan it empowers SMB make-to-order companies and job shops to increase delivery time commitments while optimizing resource utilization. It is a visual scheduling application built specifically for HMLV production planners and SMB business owners which combines state-of-the-art automatic finite scheduling with intelligent visualization allowing agility to deal with the unknown and unexpected every day. Why not give it a try?

    πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»Get a free consultation from one of our scheduling experts 

    Further readings

    Which data are essential for production scheduling in HMLV job shops?

    What production schedule do high-mix low-volume companies need to grow?

    30% decrease in WIP with purpose-built software for HMLV manufacturer

    Automatic Finite Scheduling

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