How forward scheduling works in Fraction ERP

Work order scheduling software is a hot topic when you search ERP on the Internet.

At Fraction ERP we understand how important it is to get this topic right.

In this article we will explain some of the issues to consider with ERP scheduling, how Fraction ERP handles this situation and how you can organise your free trial of our ERP solution.

What does scheduling do within an ERP system?

Before we get into the mechanics of ERP scheduling, it is important to clarify what the schedule actually does within an ERP system. At the most basic level, it determines what order you carry out your manufacturing operations.

From the view of the person scheduling the order book it is an opportunity to balance the sales turnover with customer needs. Maximising productivity and output from your schedule are key to a profitable factory.

An effective schedule can help with improving on time delivery performance. This in turn can help the business to win more work by being a supplier of choice.

The schedule should feed your capacity management reports, that may force either honest conversations with your customers or a review of your resources (hiring agency workers, recruitment, changing shift patterns etc...).

ERP capacity management board

Fraction ERP's capacity management screen, colour coded to highlight overloads

The output of the schedule creates work to lists for your teams to follow. This, in turn, provides the basis for work tracking which can save hours of management time every day.

I hope you can see that the scheduling function is essential to drive so many other important activities within the ERP system that ultimately lead to higher levels of productivity and profitability.

What are the types of scheduling in ERP systems?

There are four main options for scheduling within ERP systems, they are:

  • Forwards / infinite
  • Forwards / finite
  • Backwards / infinite
  • Backwards / finite

If we take the first part of these options; the forwards option starts scheduling from the first available point in time and places operations into your schedule in the order that you have them in your routing. The backwards option starts with your latest possible finish time and works in reverse through your operations, to give you a start date.

Infinite and finite refer to whether other work is included in the scheduling calculations. Finite will consider how much work is already loaded on a particular day and move work about accordingly. Infinite will consider the capacity of a workcentre and load work irrespective of other work.

ERP scheduling - forward infinite

An example of Fraction ERP forward scheduling an operation

Each business has preferences in terms of how they schedule. Some want to start as late as possible, some want to start as soon as possible. Some want to manage their capacity actively, others want let the system move operation dates round automatically.  

How does scheduling work in Fraction ERP?

We've opted for 'forward / finite' as our scheduling option.

If you look at our mission on our About Us page, you will understand why we have taken this stance:

"To put low cost and simple ERP into the hands of every manufacturing SME at a time when they are fed up of broken spreadsheets, whiteboards and paper based systems."

To keep our system simple we have gone with a scheduling approach that helps you:

  • Decide when you want to start an operation.
  • See what the capacity (the busyness) of workcentres is, when you schedule.
  • Take workcentre planned working hours into account.
  • Determine if you want to move work around, or increase capacity to suit.

We've left you in control of your operations and given you a helping hand with a common method of scheduling.

If you are wondering why we haven't gone for the backwards method (producing as late as possible) it is because we know what happens when you have time left and then an unexpected order comes in, making it too late to start your original order and handle the new one. Front loading has helped our scheduling issues and hopefully it will help yours too.

To make the process of scheduling easier, we built the visual scheduling board, which you can see in the image below. You simply click on the tiles to schedule your operations, noting any capacity hot spots as you do so.

ERP scheduling board

Fraction ERP's visual scheduling board, with colour coded capacity alerts

We've also designed Fraction ERP to allow for 'iterative scheduling'. This means that you can create a rough schedule using our weekly scheduling board. Then, if you need the detail, you can move to daily (and hourly) scheduling as you get closer to the time of production.

Many businesses waste enormous hours on producing detailed schedules for their entire order book. We don't want you to waste time; you can start with a rough plan and at the end of the week you can define in more detail what you want to do next week (day by day). Plus, if you opt for the hourly option, you can do something similar. As the day draws to a close, you can schedule operations day by day for the following day, if required. Also, we've designed the system to be flexible so you can choose to schedule some operations by the day and others by the week. It is up to you how you schedule your work.

Do you want to try the system out?

To help prospective customers learn how Fraction ERP works, we offer a free trial. The trial is for two weeks and allows you to input your data into Fraction ERP and see if it can help your business to unlock the benefits of ERP.

To help you better understand how Fraction ERP works, we recommend you organise an online demo with us. This takes around one hour and helps us to show you the features that will help your particular business and give you a good overview of the system.

If you would like to organise your demo and free trial, fill in the form below.

Scheduling in ERP systems can bring a lot of benefits to a business, that's for sure. We hope that this article has helped explain the approach we have taken to ensure that scheduling can be simple, fast and effective.

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