Visual Scheduling in Manufacturing

Sam Rothwell, Application Consultant at HSO, blogs about the benefits of visual planning in manufacturing environments.

Today, I’d like to write today about visual planning in manufacturing environments, around the benefits that it brings and specifically what areas companies typically want to improve by moving from an offline (and often excel based!) scheduling system to something integrated into their ERP solution, such as that available in Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Over the course of the last decade, there have been many exciting innovations in manufacturing and logistics, where customers are expecting increasingly personalised products in shorter and shorter time. Technologies such as 3D Printing have led to rapid prototyping and even fully fledged, personalised products. Examples of this can be found in automotive, pharmaceutical, scientific & consumer goods, however, whilst this has led to higher data collection and standardised /repeatable builds, it has led to the old challenge of how best to utilise your key production assets.

The challenge of how best to utilise resources in the form of machines, tooling and staff remains as relevant as it ever has, and this is where I believe an integrated visual scheduling system is key to making the most of your business.

Whilst the focus of this post is on manufacturing industries, it should also be noted that the problem of bottleneck resources is obviously not only limited to these. In a knowledge economy, the most critical assets in any organisation are the people, whether these are producing a product in a traditional sense or delivering great service to your customer base. I strongly believe that visual scheduling, whilst traditionally employed primarily to maximise the productive time of expensive machinery, can be just as effectively used for planning human resources within your business.

A visual scheduling system which is fully integrated to your ERP allows the following key benefits:

• More accurate forecasting of resource utilisation, allowing you to keep your employees busy with tasks which they are most qualified for.

• Full cost data and expected revenue, helping the business understand it’s expected profitability in advance of completion of product.

• Improved production agility, allowing you to understand the impact of unexpected delays, outages and react quickly, issuing new schedules where appropriate.

• Verification of business rules to ensure that over-allocation is dramatically reduced, meaning more accurate delivery predictions to your customers.

• Better communication of production plans, which should be available on a range of platforms, anytime and in a format that can be easily understood by your entire workforce.

Simply put, good visual scheduling software empowers your skilled employees to make the best use of their time and resources to achieve more for your company.

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