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Job Shop Scheduling: Two Differentiators When Comparing Options

  

Job Shop scheduling can often be an afterthought in the minds of ERP buyers but the fact is there are significant differences in shop scheduling requirements which can seriously impact shop productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction.

Shop Scheduling can be as simple as showing a list of jobs and where they are on the shop floor. A step up from that is “What if” scheduling showing how all job target completions are affected when a potential new job is inserted. All systems allow a “rush job” to be inserted but don’t necessarily show the consequences. And some of the more sophisticated, but successful scheduling systems are those that expose how ‘what if’ simulations can also impact profitability.

Here are two differentiators to pay attention to:

1)Capacity Planning/Capable to Promise:

The ability for the software to take into account available machine and or/labor resources to do a job from start to finish with an expected completion date is known as capacity planning. More sophisticated products will even take into consideration other resources such as materials, staffing, tooling, fixture availabilities and more.

The ability to do capacity planning really separates the more capable job shop scheduling systems from the basic ones. Basic systems like JobBOSS and E2 Shoptech, Epicor Express are limited regarding finite capacity planning. They simply allow you to enter the job and project completion based on available inventory and machine resources.

Products like Infor Visual, Epicor, Made2Manage, Global Shop and ECiM1 offer more flexibility in scheduling capabilities.

2)Tension Between On-Time Delivery and Profitability:

A key competitive factor is the ability to deliver the customer’s order on time. Some manufacturers will, for example, brag about 95%+ on-time delivery. That’s a pretty powerful number but at what cost to the company? Is a lot of expensive overtime used to maintain that level of service, are machines being run past optimum utilization?

The commitment to on-time deliveries can be a customer by customer decision depending on how important the customer is to you. If they are a large part of your business, you may be more willing to sacrifice some profits to keep them happy.

When warranted a more sophisticated scheduling function can be justified. The ability to proactively run simulations to complete on-time shipments that display the impact on profits can done using The Theory of constraints (TOC), made popular by the late Dr. Eli Goldratt’s best-selling novel, The Goal. Infor Visual offers that but not every company has the internal discipline to implement that feature successfully.

Critical Path is an adjunct to bottlenecks. This is where the program knows what has to be in place in order for the job to progress from workstation to workstation. This might involve a part or a subassembly needed for the next phase of production with the system sending appropriate alerts to responsible staff in the event of a shortage.

Only systems that identify the specific bottlenecks like, Infor Visual and ProShop (Adion), can do that. ProShop has the ability to visually flowchart all the production steps for any given order.

Conclusion:

Job scheduling is often taken for granted as just another ‘me-too’ ERP feature but, depending on operating mode and a specific manufacturer’s expectations, it can be either a major asset or a serious limitation.