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    6 tangible job shop scheduling benefits

    Martin Karlowitsch
    September 9, 2020
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    Job shops are characterized by the high-mix, low-volume nature of their manufacturing processes. For job shops, change is the only constant element. Hence, many scheduling techniques that are proven in flow shop or series production environments fail in job shops. A technique that consistently has been yielding tangible results for job shops is visual job shop scheduling. This blog post unveils six unprecedented visual job shop scheduling benefits.

    What is visual job shop scheduling?

    In essence, scheduling is a process of matching supply and demand.

    In the case of a job shop, it matches the demand for a shop’s capacities resulting from the customer orders with the available capacity. When done properly, delivery times are met and resources are used effectively.

    Visual scheduling is the process of achieving this match visually. It uniquely combines the best of both worlds. It brings together

    • the ease of a visual, Gantt chart based drag & drop scheduler
    • with the sophistication of automatic scheduling.

    As such, it predominantly provides transparency and lets the scheduler understand the complex scheduling mechanisms that happen behind the scenes.

    That way, visual job shop scheduling puts the user into the forefront of everything, and the scheduler and planner into the driver’s seat.

    What are the benefits of visual job shop scheduling?

    Benefit #1: Transparency

    A picture is worth a thousand words. A visual schedule is a picture. It is a picture of what is going on on your shop-floor, and what will be happening on your shop-floor.

    job shop scheduling benefit: transparency

    It lets you quickly see which jobs are running late, and which jobs are in danger of running late. It also helps you to understand dependencies and to easily spot bottlenecks.

    And by the way: understand is the important word here. Transparency enables understanding.

    Once you fully understand your schedule, the dependencies, and potential threats, you can easily take countermeasures.

    The good thing is – a schedule always is directed to the future. Hence, visual scheduling allows you to spot issues before they occur so that you can also take preventive countermeasures.

    --> Want to learn how other job shops implemented visual scheduling and how  they managed to increase their OTD? Download a free Ebook with a 3-step recipe  now. <--

    Benefit #2: Increase on-time deliveries (so that you achieve >90% OTD)

    When we onboard new customers, we regularly interview them and ask what keeps them up at night. The most commonly given answer is: “We struggle with keeping our delivery time commitments. As a consequence, we are in constant fire-fighting.”

    Visual scheduling combines the sophistication of automatic scheduling with the ease of a Gantt chart based scheduler.

    With proper automatic scheduling, new jobs are added to your existing schedule automatically – taking into account finite capacities, your shop calendar, and potential machine downtimes. In the second a new job hits the visual job shop scheduling software, you see the realistic delivery date.

    This is what you can communicate to your client. Important is: this is a realistic date.

    And it gets even better: with a combined automatic and visual scheduling software, you can give that job a higher priority. This gives you to types of information:

    • An earlier, and still realistic delivery date for the job you currently schedule
    • Insights into the impacts on all delivery dates of the other jobs

    With this ability to give realistic delivery time commitments, your OTD will skyrocket (our customers repeatedly achieve OTD > 90%) … and you will be able to run your entire shop much smoother.

    job shop scheduling benefit on-time deliveries increased

    --> Want to learn how other job shops implemented visual scheduling and how  they managed to increase their OTD? Download a free Ebook with a 3-step recipe  now. <--

    Benefit #3: Cut lead times (by at least 20%)

    Let’s allow for a bit of theory. Within the mathematical theory of probability, there is a discipline called “queuing theory”. An important finding within this discipline is Little’s Theorem. In general, it says that the long-term average number L of customers in a stationary system is equal to the long-term average effective arrival rate λ multiplied by the average time W that a customer spends in the system.

    Let’s bring this over from customers in a shop to production orders in a job shop. In this context, the appropriate way of phrasing Little’s Theorem is:

    There is a direct correlation between the amount of work-in-process and the lead time. The higher the WIP, the longer the lead times.

    So, the more jobs you have waiting for their turn, the longer the average queuing time, and hence the longer the lead times.

    How does visual job shop scheduling help?

    The answer is transparency. Precisely: visual scheduling lets you easily identify bottlenecks. This is not trivial as bottlenecks – due to the nature of job shops – keep on changing.

    However, once identified, you can apply counter measures (such as subcontracting) and eliminate bottlenecks, which in your case most likely are just temporary.

    With eliminating bottlenecks, you can cut lead times (our customers repeatedly manage to get their lead times down by at least 20%).

    job shop scheduling benefits lead times cut

    Benefit #4: Increase your throughput (by more than 25%)

    The correlation is obvious (even without adding more theory): if you manage to cut down lead times and if you keep your capacity at the same levels, you manage to get done more in the same amount of time.

    Another way of phrasing it: by cutting lead times, you can increase your throughput. This alone is another benefit of visual job shop scheduling (and our statistics show that our customers repeatedly achieve this).

    job shop scheduling benefits throughput increased

    Benefit 5: Increase your revenue by taking more orders in

    Let’s put the four benefits I discussed into a shaker, mix it, and create a well-tasting cocktail of it. This cocktail is the potential of making more revenue thanks to visual job shop scheduling. Let’s be precise: more revenue with the same machines and the same resource.

    Hence, this top-line growth directly turns into bottom-line growth. How’s that possible?

    Just recap:

    1. Visual scheduling achieves transparency of what is happening.
    2. Thanks to this transparency, you can make more reliable delivery time commitments and hence increase your OTD.
    3. Thanks to this transparency, you can identify bottlenecks faster and cut lead times.
    4. As a result, you can increase your throughput.

    In essence, we observe that our customers – as a result of 1 to 4 – feel comfortable taking more orders in. Orders that they would have declined before as they lacked transparency and were in a constant firefight.

    Benefit 6: Less distraction, more focus, less stress

    job shop scheduling benefits - full controlAfter all these tangible benefits, I like to conclude this post with an intangible, but invaluable benefit.

    Visual job shop scheduling gives you control over what is happening on your shop-floor. You have less fire-fighting, you get fewer distractions from unplanned incidents resulting in big chaos and hence you have less stress.

    If “keeping delivery times” keeps you up at night, try visual job shop scheduling. It bears some potential to even improve the quality of your sleep.

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