Manufacturing Tomorrow


6 Ways Discrete Manufacturers Can Avoid Common Scheduling Issues

Apr 05, 2017
Manufacturing and Distribution


Time is of the essence in discrete manufacturing, and managing it through efficient production planning is key in realizing your operation’s full potential—and profitability—on each project.

Sounds easy enough, but there are several things that “hide” in the details that could throw your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) schedule off track. Look for and address these common missteps:

1. Ditch the Outdated Tools 

A trap for many manufacturers, especially small to mid-size operations, is using a legacy system for production planning, scheduling, and data functions. An Excel program may fit the bill for file importing, but it’s severely lacking for analytics and planning. An ERP system that’s integrated into operations does all the math to produce the appropriate schedule, making it an invaluable time saver throughout the entire process.

2. Get Out From Behind Your Desk 
Production planning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and examining spreadsheet numbers only tells part of the story. Get out on the floor. Ask employees for input and actively engage is what’s happening. It’s the surest way to “check and balance” your projected operational numbers against actual operations.

3. Factor in “Oops” Time 
In a perfect world, every step in a manufacturing process happens without incident and all products are delivered on time and under budget. The reality is sometimes the wrong material is delivered or subassemblies arrive late. Staying on top of ERP recalculations and accepting that the occasional “oops” will happen will prevent misalignment of anticipated and actual scheduling outcomes.

4. Make Time for Maintenance 
Complex discrete manufacturing involves high-performance equipment that frequently needs fine tuning to prevent problems. On the surface it appears counterintuitive to dedicate time to maintenance when you’re optimizing efficiencies. However, delaying or ignoring needed adjustments invites issues that will eventually cause costly, and sometimes lengthy, shutdowns.

5. Understand Your Capacity 
Capacity plays a pivotal role in determining all facets of the manufacturing process. Guess at that number, and ERP outcomes will almost certainly be skewed. Further, capacity isn’t a “one and done” calculation. There are a number of things that influence it throughout the project lifecycle like machines going down, worker absences, or overtime implications. If capacity isn’t initially established from a “big picture” point of view that takes all factors into consideration, you’ll likely lose time, money, or both.

6. Review Data and Apply Findings 
Continuous improvement is a top priority in discrete manufacturing. An ERP system aids in collecting and analyzing key data to keep best practices aligned with metrics that drive production planning and scheduling, as well as streamline overall manufacturing operations. However, simply having the data isn’t enough to accomplish your goals. Applying the findings through automation, frequent communication, and physical engagement on the shop floor transforms insights into action, and action into efficient production.

Integrating an ERP system into your discrete manufacturing operation is a value-add across the board. Reach out to Wipfli today to explore next steps for optimizing your production planning and scheduling.




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