Active scheduling of your planning horizons
Scheduling and re-scheduling... the cause of much frustration within most manufacturing businesses. When you spend a good chunk of time on this activity, to stay still, you can understand why it is frustrating.
Orders get pulled forward. Orders get pushed back. Production delays force changes to happen.
This will always happen, this is natural. But, is there a different approach you can take?
Many businesses don't have a formal approach to defining their planning horizons. Using horizons effectively can remedy a lot of problems in this area.
What do I mean by planning horizons?
Firstly, it is typical to have three horizons.
The short term. In this period, you fix work order operation dates and schedule / plan the work with precision.
The medium term. During this period, you commit work orders to the schedule. If the customer wants to pull an order forward during this period it needs to offset another order. One in, one out is a good way of thinking about this. Scheduling is approximate during this period.
The longer term. Large swings and fluctuations are OK in this period. Rough cut capacity planning is more than acceptable. Ensuring that scheduling periods are not ridiculous is the focus here.
The time periods referenced above will need to be appropriate to your business. For quick turnaround items, short term might refer to the next two days and medium term could be a week or two. For slower products, you could measure the time frames in months.
Using the time frames has less to do with durations and more to do with the approach. Many businesses try to schedule everything as though it had to be perfect. The reality is that the orders in several weeks / months time might need to be approximately right. The turbulence in the order book may cause orders to be re-scheduled several more times before you produce them.
Fraction ERP has taken this approach on board. The Core package has weekly scheduling buckets to keep this process simple. The Advanced and Pro options have daily and hourly scheduling options.
Following the time periods above, you can use Fraction ERP to reduce scheduling time. Orders for later periods can be rough scheduled using the weekly buckets. You can schedule imminent periods using the daily or hourly tools.
There is little point spending time scheduling to the nth degree, to re-do it eight more times.
Is your business is spending a lot of time scheduling and re-scheduling? If so, try out the horizons approach.