Tag Archives: dynamic scheduling

Solve Problems, Not Symptoms, with MES

Maximize the value of your paperless manufacturing system by targeting the root cause, and not just the symptoms, of your shop floor problems.

By Kristin McLane, President of CIMx Software

Save yourself time, money and frustration when solving shop floor issues by focusing on the problem, not the symptom.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

Save yourself time, money and frustration when solving shop floor issues by focusing on the problem, not the symptom. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

I had a neighbor once with a hole in her roof.  It wasn’t a big hole, but water dripped into her wall during a bad rain.  My neighbor didn’t fix the hole; instead she kept a bucket of paint and covered the water stain every few months.  “It’s easier to paint than get on the roof,” she once told me.

Many times, symptoms are easier to identify than the actual issue causing the problem.

When all is not going well on the shop floor – failed audits, quality control issues, slow orders, missing parts, confusion – it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause.  Every single one of these issues impacts the schedule, which quickly becomes the culprit.  No matter the underlying issue, a missed deadline demands attention.  So, some cling to scheduling as the problem to fix, never discovering the real problem.

It’s slapping another coat of paint on the water-damaged wall.

Many customers look for dynamic scheduling solutions because they see a shop floor symptom (missed deadlines) and dynamic scheduling offers an easy solution (like a bucket of paint).  Truth is, a simple coat of paint isn’t going to solve much, and will never make much impact on your business.

A Closer Look at your Shop Floor Problems

We’re going to encourage you to look a little deeper.

Think about your personal schedule.  In the past 20 years, we’ve moved through a progression of devices – personal planners to smart devices.  No matter how diligent you are, or how robust the tool, scheduling isn’t going to increase the quality of your work.  Scheduling can only have minimal impact on efficiency; it simply selects the work to be done and places it in an open timeslot, then maybe offers innovative widgets to get you to do the work.  I admit, dynamic scheduling can synchronize the schedule of your shop floor, but that’s when the work of the tool is complete.  It’s not going to help your team achieve its goals.  Work quality isn’t going to magically improve.

To be honest, the benefits of scheduling on the manufacturing shop floor are limited.  Work can only move forward once each previous operation is completed, no matter the “schedule” you create.  An error or non-conformance isn’t going to solve itself because you know the “right” time to do the work.  Tighter scheduling is not going to correct the underlying problems hindering throughput.

Process Improvement graph.

No other shop floor solution addresses so many production challenges, or offers a bigger benefit. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Dynamic scheduling offers short term answers to shop floor problems.  Many companies solve problems by throwing more manpower at production, or eke out a little more production from a machine or two, but these are short-term solutions.  Tomorrow the same problem may come back.  Scheduling is a critical component for a shop floor, however, if the planning and workflows aren’t optimized, no amount of money (on a scheduling tool, overtime or additional operators) will solve the real problem.

It would be like spending money on buckets of paint and repair projects, while the hole in the roof waited for the next rainstorm.

MES and paperless manufacturing offer a broad range of tools and solutions for the shop floor.  No other product benefits the shop floor in so many ways, directly addressing the root cause of problems hindering production.  Many manufacturers find a solution to the original shop floor problem through the paperless system, and then discover other benefits they may not have known were there.

Talk to an engineer about shop floor issues, and work on the root problems causing the issues.  Expand the conversation beyond simply the schedule, and look at what is really causing the production delays.   We recommend an engineer be involved in the sales process from the very beginning, to identify issues before determining or selecting a solution.  Your shop floor team can provide both insight and focus on operations.

Many times, the solution to the problem is much simpler (and less expensive) than the solution to the symptom.  Once you’ve looked a little deeper at the real problem, the final solution will often deliver a wealth of other benefits.

Unraveling the Mystery of Dynamic Scheduling in Manufacturing

For any company looking to improve manufacturing production through dynamic scheduling, the first step is making sure you have the right tools in place to make it work.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

A few years back, I bought a brand new Blu-Ray player.  When I opened up the package, I realized I needed a longer HDMI cable.  So, I bought one, then plugged in a movie… only to discover I needed an Internet connection.  The tiny instruction manual, filled with mysterious illustrations and illegible phrases, didn’t help.

I was annoyed enough to throw that Blu-Ray in the trash and pull out a Betamax tape (if I had one).  But, when I finally got the system working and watched the first movie… the work was worthwhile.

Unfortunately for many companies, implementing a dynamic scheduling system can be a lot like my experience with Blu-Ray.  Getting full benefit from the system will require having the right tools in place.

Understanding Dynamic Scheduling

With the right tools, dynamic scheduling will improve shop floor production.  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

With the right tools, dynamic scheduling will improve shop floor production. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Dynamic scheduling systems will account for machine workload and set-up times, the daily workload, resources, incoming orders and priorities to schedule daily work to ensure optimal production. 

Most scheduling is reactive, with work being done in response to production needs.  As work comes in, the shop floor adjusts to complete it.  Dynamic scheduling is proactive, with the schedule being adjusted to maximize production.  A dynamic scheduling system should adjust production to minimize resource (machine breakdown, tool failures, QC issues) or job-related (rush jobs, cancellations, or ECO’s) issues and ensure optimal use of shop floor resources. 

But, dynamic scheduling isn’t enough to optimize production.  The system requires two important components to work effectively: Real-time information and shop floor process control.

Real Time Process Visibility and Control

Real time information is a necessary component of any dynamic scheduling system.  In some systems, information might be obtained from shop floor machines or a reporting system, but data obtained from these sources may not be real time, or may offer an incomplete picture of production, and the dynamic schedule produced from these sources will be flawed.  Shop floors often struggle to adjust to the inaccuracies.

In addition, the pace of change on the shop floor requires production react quickly to schedule changes.  The more time it takes to move resources to meet changing schedule needs, the less effective the system.  For some shop floors that lack process control, a dynamic scheduling system will actually hinder production as resources struggle to meet the scheduling needs, rather than completing work.

The Advantage of MES and Paperless Manufacturing

An MES or paperless manufacturing system delivers the necessary process control and visibility for dynamic scheduling to have a positive impact on production.  The MES will collect real time shop floor data that can be used to create a truly effective production schedule.  In addition, the system will allow instantaneous communication between the production team, ensuring vital information is where it needs to be when it is needed.

The MES acts as a conduit for the dynamic scheduling system.  Real time data is fed from the shop floor through the MES to the scheduling system.  Schedules are created, and then the MES efficiently manages information on the shop floor to deliver process control necessary to maximize the benefit of dynamic scheduling.

It’s an efficient, closed loop information system that works and will benefit production in a nice, neat package… unlike the instruction manual that came with my Blu-Ray.