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Managing machine schedules

Strostkovy

Stainless
Joined
Oct 29, 2017
I'm the floor manager for a rapidly expanding offroad business, and we make mostly our own parts and occasionally competitor's parts ( for some reason? ) and I'm running into coordination issues. Specifically, as we are 4 months out on orders, I need to schedule our production batches a minimum of 2 months in advance, as well as material orders. We only have a laser and brake that need schedules. I currently have a spreadsheet with all of the sheets to cut for what product with what program at what date, but it's pretty tough to read through.

My next step would be to migrate it to a calendar, but then I lose the easy processing of data that I get with a spreadsheet. Or I could format a spreadsheet to have space for every work day of the next two months that tallies up the hours and material needed for the week. This is doable but a lot of work.

Just curious if anyone has any experience do this in a more efficient way.
 

sfriedberg

Diamond
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Location
Oregon, USA
Don't choose between spreadsheet and a calendar. Have both. Get an IT person to write a script which extracts the data
from the easy-to-process spreadsheet into an easy-to-read calendar. And maybe also a GANTT chart, so you can see where
you have slack (or are vulnerable to cascading problems if some job runs long or equipment goes out). You can run
the script whenever you need to refresh the calendar/chart.

This is the sort of thing you can get an IT contractor to do. No need for a dedicated IT department. However, you will
have to be really clear what you want for the output.

If you get big enough, you might start investigating the various commercial suites of production management software.
 

Strostkovy

Stainless
Joined
Oct 29, 2017
Don't choose between spreadsheet and a calendar. Have both. Get an IT person to write a script which extracts the data
from the easy-to-process spreadsheet into an easy-to-read calendar. And maybe also a GANTT chart, so you can see where
you have slack (or are vulnerable to cascading problems if some job runs long or equipment goes out). You can run
the script whenever you need to refresh the calendar/chart.

This is the sort of thing you can get an IT contractor to do. No need for a dedicated IT department. However, you will
have to be really clear what you want for the output.

If you get big enough, you might start investigating the various commercial suites of production management software.

A Gantt chart sounds exactly like what I need.

I find it unlikely I'll get approval to hire anything out to an IT company.
 

DanASM

Hot Rolled
Joined
Mar 11, 2019
A Gantt chart sounds exactly like what I need.

I find it unlikely I'll get approval to hire anything out to an IT company.

I use one of these and like it very much. The only downside is adding data to it. I find myself not wanting to update it as much as I should. I also dont have a great way to get an accurate count on production each day to give the chart 100% accurate info.

It works great as a production planner. Its really easy to see a few months down the road when some jobs will be completed and other jobs can get started in its place. I find it works great for scheduling the "next" job on the same machine.
 

sfriedberg

Diamond
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Location
Oregon, USA
I find it unlikely I'll get approval to hire anything out to an IT company.
Depending on the brand of spreadsheet you're using, the "IT company" might be a freelancer who knows Visual Basic. (Seriously). Oh, and in the 90's my employer heavily used Microsoft Project for scheduling, GANTT charts, etc., and there were lots and lots of integration paths to move data between Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet) and Project (scheduler). Unfortunately, the LibreOffice suite doesn't have an equivalent to MS Project. But you can still script data extraction from LO Calc spreadsheets. If you are on Macs, I don't know what your options are.
 

ttrager

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 23, 2015
Are your spreadsheets basic lists of data, or have you been able to code in rule sets / logic ? There are Gantt chart tools or add ins for Excel I believe.

Where I am at there were several tasks/responsibilities there were basically managed by paper/pen, or handled in somewhat haphazard fashion. Our ERP didn't track these, etc. So as a first step to get them under control:

An Inspections/Audit alert and tracker. 25 checkpoints to happen on their own schedules. (e.g. Fire Ext Insp, ISO Audits, Calibration, spot checking maintenance logs to see they are being performed, inventory checks, and others)

There is a front end summary "Status Monitor" of each Inspection Point, when it's next due, and will auto color code red when due. This is fed from the simple log sheets where all I do is log an entry, and its date.

I have other sheets that track, for instance, blue print inspections. Fast, concise entry with a couple of count fields for Errors Found or Errors Missed, and there is a summary Bar Graph on that sheet. Simply log your Blueprint inspection, with counts (if any), and the bar chart auto updates to total prints checked vs how many errors found and how many errors missed.

I make sure to have Comment Fields where helpful so I can pop in info that keeps things clear.

Short Version: If you have an Enterprise solution that meets your requirements, that would probably be your better choice. Using a Calendar app could also work. My only thought here is don't discount the sheer power and flexibility of Excel. If you are familiar with this, then this is no news. If you aren't, and only have basic knowledge of Excel you are missing out.
 

ftoconsulting

Plastic
Joined
Jul 20, 2021
Location
Oregon, USA
You should be able to set up a Gantt within Excel that ties to your data. The shop I used to work at built one in Excel and had it posted on a large tv for everyone to see where projects were at, deadlines, and how busy we were. They were extremely helpful in determining when to find more orders and when to focus on getting work out the door. They've since switched everything over to PowerBI but that's likely overkill for what you're doing.
 

Orange Vise

Stainless
Joined
Feb 10, 2012
Location
California
A Gantt chart sounds exactly like what I need.

I find it unlikely I'll get approval to hire anything out to an IT company.

My experience with Gantt chart software like Asana or Wrike is that they're great for collaborative environments where multiple people have access to the software. But if you're the only person working on the scheduling, it's easier just to stick to Excel or Google Sheets.
 








 
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