Production Scheduling

June 17, 2014

production-puzzle-5-12-14Production scheduling has been a part of my expertise since my post-college days at Coca-Cola Enterprises. It has been a part of every job I’ve held (whether directly or indirectly) and a part of almost every project I’ve consulted on since. Thus, I have a passion for this topic.

I’ve always found production scheduling to be fun and exciting as you have the opportunity to optimize among competing priorities and variables (inventory levels/cash flow, service levels/sales, and costs/operational efficiencies) to find the best overall solution. The best production schedulers not only find the optimal answer but they also communicate effectively and align everyone on the same page. A tall order yet invaluable! A few considerations for success include:

1. Start with the customer – As with everything that pops to mind in business success, it’s best to start with the customer.  What does the customer need?  Understand your customer’s requirements and priorities.

2. Cycle time – How long does it take to run an item through the standard production process?  How does this compare with the customer’s lead time?  Are there unique materials /purchased components?  How does this affect your cycle time?

3. Understand cash flow – Follow the money!  Inventory ties up cash.  How much inventory do you need?  Why?  What does Finance expect you to produce?  It matters – without cash, your business will not thrive.

4. Consider operational efficiencies – Do you know the impact of your decisions? Are there changeovers (changes in size, color, etc.)?  If so, how long do they take?  Do some take longer than others?  Is there a sequence which makes more sense?  Can you work with operations to reduce the batch quantities?  

5. Understand staffing impacts – What is the regular schedule for Operations?  Will your schedule require overtime?  Hiring?  Temps?  Can you move volume among machines?  Machine groups?  In-house vs. outsource?  Can your schedule affect the skill requirements?  Perhaps you can optimize with the available staffing.

6.  Understand equipment and tooling impacts – Will your schedule affect the number or type of machines required?  Does flexibility trump capital costs?  

Did you like this article? Continue reading more on our blog or check out these other production scheduling topics:

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