How to best schedule flexible resources

    Clara Cabrera
    November 15, 2017

    Having idle resources? Feel that you need to better utilize your capaciity through better resource scheduling? Well, one word of caution before 'freaking out' about idle resources: actually having idle might be OK because, as underlined in the theory of constraints, a 100% resource usage is not always optimum. However, idle resources start to “feel wrong” if you also have jobs that run late. In this blog post we offer two resource scheduling best practices that you can apply when you work with just plan it and want to fight delayed orders while having idle resources.

    Tip 1: Have a look at buffer times when assigning priorities

    The first recommendation is that you manage jobs by their buffer time. The buffer time (only meaningful if your planning strategy is ASAP) is the gap that you have between the planned finish date of the job and its due date. This gap can translate into idle time that can be used to the advantage of other orders. To make the most out of this scenario, we recommend you go to released jobs and search for those with big buffer (hint: the Job Report can help achieve this). Check, for example, if the job with highest priority has the biggest buffer time. Change the sequence number to a lower priority, so other jobs (with less buffer time, and hence less degree of freedom) are worked on first. The below video summarizes this tip visually.

    Tip 2: Better manage flexible resources (if you have them)

    Resource scheduling with flexible resources.pngMy second recommendation is that you better manage flexible resources (in case you have them). Flexible resources are those that can be used within different resource groups and are able to perform multiple tasks. In just plan it, the position of a resource within its group (the so called 'resource number') plays an important role:

    The lower the resource number, the earlier this resource gets a task assigned. If we have a task where we only specified a resource group, we first look at resource 1 within this group, and if this resource is available the task is assigned to it. If it is not available, we look at resource 2 and if it is not, we look at number 3…

    In terms of flexible resources, what you need to see is what resource can only do a specific job. So, you should give work to the specialist resources first and then use the flexible resources as what they are: as "buffers" to cope with extra work in the various resource groups that they can serve. That means, if you give a "generalist resource" a low resource number in one group, you will limit its capabilities to take over extra work in the other resource groups. Consequently, my recommendation is that you move the specialist resource up to the first position. So by sorting the resources (by changing the resource number) within the resource group you make a more efficient use of our production process. This is also outlined in the video below.

    Next step

    Not yet using just plan it? The do not waste more time and book an exploratory meeting with one of our scheduling nerds consultants.

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