Manufacturing or production scheduling is the activities performed in a manufacturing company in order to manage and control the execution of a production process.
A schedule describes which activities must be performed in what time frame and how the factory’s resources should be utilised to satisfy a production plan. In short, it details how factories use their machines to produce products, within a time frame.
Scheduling includes allocating machines to complete jobs over time, subject to constraints. Each work center or machine can usually process one job at a time. Each job has parameters such as necessary sequential constraints (die changes, maintenance) and required resources (raw material).
How to manage manufacturing scheduling
Some companies manage scheduling manually using a combination of data from their ERP system, Excel spreadsheets and gant charts. Companies can reach a stage when resources and customer demand make it very difficult to continue scheduling their factory manually using Excel spreadsheets and data entry. This is when companies implement an MES (or Manufacturing Execution System) software like AspectPL.
What is live manufacturing scheduling?
MES software can download data from an ERP system and use this to schedule production – digitally. AspectPL creates a live schedule which means it is always up to date. AspectPL is wired to machines so it can gather live data as production is running. It also can be updated on the go without having to recreate the schedule. Using the AspectPL live schedule can cut production planning time by two thirds. Die changes, maintenance and downtime can also be included in the live AspectPL schedule.
How to improve scheduling
The question is not just how to improve scheduling but how to improve the entire production process. Good MES software gathers data which can inform where inefficiencies are happening. MES software offers visibility of inefficiencies such as utilisation of machines, raw material wastage, machine downtime, die change issues and OEE measures.
The traceability an MES like AspectPL offers, helps manufacturers meet customers quality, capacity and delivery requirements.