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    Default Machine scheduling

    Hello,
    Looking for some advice on some sort of interactive machine scheduling software or spreadsheet. Was at a shop where the manager had an excel sheet with a gantt chart showing different machines with a jobs breakdown and he would input daily production numbers and the chart would turn different colors based on progress.. red if it was running behind for example. Not sure if it was something the company wrote in-house or a purchased solution. We currently have 10 machines we would like to set this up with. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

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    I've worked with companies that used apps like Wrike, and also multi-billion dollar companies that just used Excel.

    Regardless of the platform, the common thread is that diligent upkeep is a must, because garbage-in = garbage-out.

    How is your shop currently keeping track of production, and who specifically is doing it?

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    We basically are using a simple whiteboard with columns for machines and we write in job # and operator. also a column on the right showing next job. Simple but still a PITA..

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    I worked in a shop for years and we had (they still do today as well) all the scheduling similar to what you're looking for in an excel document (though this may have moved to dynamic365, I don't recall). Anyways, now I'm a software/web/app developer (run a development company) so if you'd like something developed that is exactly what you're looking for, let me know and we can figure the details of what you need and the best way to develop something that is maintainable and works for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ftoconsulting View Post
    I worked in a shop for years and we had (they still do today as well) all the scheduling similar to what you're looking for in an excel document (though this may have moved to dynamic365, I don't recall). Anyways, now I'm a software/web/app developer (run a development company) so if you'd like something developed that is exactly what you're looking for, let me know and we can figure the details of what you need and the best way to develop something that is maintainable and works for you.
    How about some examples of your past work, and some pricing ?

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    I knew of a local company that ran exactly as the OP said...it was the worlds most involved multi coloured spread sheet!
    I've worked with 3x different MRP systems... BUT the best thing IMHO is a white board for visibility.
    Yes you can have printed work-to lists for each machine for your priorities.
    But seeing overall jobs in front of your eyes (rather than one job at a time on a MRP), takes work to maintain (the white board) but you can see what's where easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    How about some examples of your past work, and some pricing ?
    Pricing varies significantly on a project-to-project basis. The projects I work on and quote typically range from $5k to over $100k, though we do quite a few very small projects for local machine shops that range from $600-$2500 as well.

    For machine shops specifically, I've helped create proprietary shop-owned scheduling calendars, data tracking and conversion tools, graphs, tool management programs, etc. One of the scheduling calendars I built took real data from the machines on how long a machine takes to run and how long it takes to reload and would map out parts to deadlines so owners/managers/employees would know how long the machines need to be running each part each day to meet the deadlines.

    I've also developed a several random mobile and web applications everywhere from lease tracking tools to social media apps to machine-learning based behavioral prediction models using heart rate data. What I enjoy most however is tools related to automating machine shops and making their processes more efficient which is why FTO Consulting exists.

    Feel free to pm me if you want to learn more or want exact quotes.

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    Last year our “system” was the manager handing the operator a job to do when they walked up from finishing the previous job. Shooting from the hip based on what’s in the pile.

    Myself and the new manager went about creating a method to actually plan out work. At first we used a big whiteboard but it was a huge pain to rewrite everything every day.

    I made an Excel file. Basically consists of columns by machine and rows by workday. Operators are color-coded and get placed at a machine on a day, with a customer and job number(s) below. There’s room for about 6 jobs in a row. We push it out as far as needed, although rarely is it longer than a week.

    This is so so much more efficient and easier to update than a whiteboard. But there are issues that I wish I could automate, mainly the progression of the days. But we’re a lot better off this way than by just feeding them job by job.

    I’m definitely interested in anything better so this thread will be good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcrace View Post
    Hello,
    Looking for some advice on some sort of interactive machine scheduling software or spreadsheet. Was at a shop where the manager had an excel sheet with a gantt chart showing different machines with a jobs breakdown....

    We currently have 10 machines we would like to set this up with. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
    Can I assume that whenever a machine is scheduled to run a job, a right worker is promptly available to it? Otherwise, you need to take into account the worker availability also while scheduling a job on a machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Job Shopper TN View Post
    I’m definitely interested in anything better so this thread will be good.
    You might be interested take a look at a relatively low-cost job shop scheduling software, Schedlyzer Lite in this regard.

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    We will do around 200 individual jobs in the next 12 months or so and...we still don’t have it figured out.

    500 discrete sub components on 1 job, different suppliers on each, different Lead times on suppliers, 200 different lead times bid into a job for our delivery on a job that was bid anywhere from a 1 day to 1 year ago.

    Who knows.

    I use excel, a white board, passing around prints of the schedule weekly, and now we are implementing GSS.

    Its a real problem to crack.

    I think just about every production related issue in a shop is just some spoke on the broader planning wheel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Wheeler View Post
    We will do around 200 individual jobs in the next 12 months or so and...we still don’t have it figured out. .....

    I use excel, a white board, passing around prints of the schedule weekly, and now we are implementing GSS. Its a real problem to crack.....
    Daniel, any good scheduling software needs strong support from a manufacturing information system for this kind of production. I am not really sure how powerful GSS scheduling module is for your production system.

    On the other hand, smaller job shops can easily make use of standalone scheduling software.

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    Using scheduling software can be tiresome because keeping it updated can be difficult.

    There is a much easier way to do things that you might want to try before fooling around with software: progress strips. Air traffic controllers use "flight progress strips" to manage air traffic and you can use the same basic method to manage a machine shop. The way it works is that there are wooden trays, one for each runway or in your case machine. The trays stand up like easels on a desk and are divided into slots that are about an inch high. Each job segment is written on a strip that is about 1" high by 6" wide. A job segment strip has info on it like: (1) job number (2) operation (3) part numbers. So you write strips and put them in the tray to queue that job segment for the machine in question. The operator goes to the tray to get the information about the job to do. When the job is done the operator removes the strip from the tray.

    There is a lot more to it than that, obviously, but you get the idea. You just get trays and paper strips cut from card stock and you are off and running. No need for a computer. It is MUCH easier to use a system like this than software-based systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jscpm View Post
    There is a lot more to it than that, obviously, but you get the idea. You just get trays and paper strips cut from card stock and you are off and running. No need for a computer. It is MUCH easier to use a system like this than software-based systems.
    And visible. You can see where any job or all the jobs, are in an instant.
    Compared to my experience of MRPs where you have to input/search for each job to see its stage.

    Whichever way you run, it takes a regimented control to update and keep on top of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jscpm View Post
    Using scheduling software can be tiresome because keeping it updated can be difficult.

    There is a much easier way to do things that you might want to try before fooling around with software: progress strips. ..... No need for a computer. It is MUCH easier to use a system like this than software-based systems.

    The method suggested here is a nice, real-time scheduling practice. In most job shops, the following may occur:

    1. Demand for products is highly unpredictable,
    2. Several distinct products are simultaneously made using common resources of limited capacity to meet stipulated due dates
    3. Product mix rapidly changes
    4. Meager resources on shop floor include multi-functional machines and multi-skilled workers
    5. Processing involves external operations
    6. Bottlenecks keep shifting over time
    7. Unexpected rush orders are accepted and order priorities may change quickly.


    Such shops may find it difficult to:

    • Quote the shortest achievable lead time for a new order
    • Find a right start time for releasing material to shop floor for the order
    • Predict progress and completion times of jobs
    • Predict bottleneck formations for proactive capacity planning
    • Perform what-if analysis for better decision making on shop floor.


    Truly powerful scheduling software are quite helpful to reduce this difficulty. Capability to look ahead makes the decision-making process more efficient. Best-of-breed software provides such capability. In my opinion, scheduling modules of ERP/MRP packages do not have adequate power.

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    Ignoring for one minute the obvious that available working hrs, available machines, available people, efficiency factor, holidays, yada yada also have to be realistically and accurately configured within the "system"....
    "Best of breed software" (whatever that is) is only any good at accurate scheduling, providing (the above and) both set-up and run times are absolutely correct for ALL part numbers.
    Any deviation from "perfect" = compromise...

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    Whiteboards are great for whole shop visibility but a right pain to update.

    The progress strips advocated by jscpm are great on a per machine basis but they don't tell you very much about how things are going in the whole shop. A good manager / foreman has a decent handle and feel for whats going on so can generally interpolate up from machines to shop pretty well. If you don't have that feel ....

    The big disadvantages of both whiteboards and progress strips are that beyond a certain size they become impossible to handle and that they give no feedback into the management system as to how well things are going. Which tends to make it harder to sort out bottlenecks and grow the shop to do jobs efficiently. But, in appropriate sizes, they are near unbeatable for the quick look whats going on now information.

    Given that computer driven projectors are not silly expensive these days has anyone seriously looked into using one to display appropriate information from the management system. Whether Excel spreadsheet or something more complex. At shop or foreman level something like the common whiteboard display would be "normal" but having it linked back gives plenty of opportunities to dig deeper. Obvious example is real time re-allocation of jobs if a machine goes down to keep delivery schedules somewhat on track.

    Your ordinary screen tends to be just too darn small for this sort of on the fly re-evaluation.

    We are still struggling to get round the issues raised by CNC making it possible quite small shops with relatively few people on the floor to deliver the quantities that back in the day would require big shops with lots of people on the floor and similarly lots of office back-up. The trouble is most of the management principles are still based on big shop + lots of office staff scenario. So the management end is hard to handle. Doesn't help that many things are still defined by output size and number of deliverables. So the teeth to tail ratio drops off.

    Clive

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    There's a lot of strategy that you can use for scheduling (including software or not), but here's the ideal situation:

    1. You make a quote based on machine processes including "accurately predicted" setup and cycle times. That quote is saved as data that is retrievable.
    2. If you receive the order, you press a button in the software to create and review the shop order/traveler that lists based on the quoted processes and times. Yes, there could have been a few erroneous process steps (wrong machine, too much/little time, etc.). That's why you need a smart person doing the quoting so that whoever does the scheduling isn't all pissed off and frustrated (ideally would be the same person but that's not easy if the shop gets big).
    3. For scheduling, ideally it fits the order into "next in line" which can get complicated but it basically just adds the times onto each process for each machine after everything that's already there (you're balancing out the customer's desired leadtime with the current backlog). You can then see the "forecasts" for how much time you have at each work station and if there are any potential needs for overtime, etc. Then you can make adjustments by either a different process or having someone work overtime.
    4. Something that can help all of the above is to be "lean", i.e. flow jobs through quickly and extra work is kept as a back-log and the next job is released after a job is completed, not a bunch of work-in-process on the shop floor which just creates a huge wave of confusion and leads to WIP tracking (having to scan at each work station to see where the job is at).

    It can take a while to get there, including evaluating, buying, training and maximizing usage of a good ERP system (standard or custom) which many companies don't do very well at because they just listen to the sales guy and get a system that's just not used properly. Another side-effect is that Microsoft has made Excel so "capable" (in theory) that people treat it too much like database/software but that isn't really what it is. If you do this correctly, there's very little effort other than making the quote accurate based on the CAD files from the customer (which can be another semi-automated process).

    There's a huge variety on this based on variance/qty of machines, processes, customers, complexity, etc. but you have to design a good system based on all of that. It can be challenging but one of the most rewarding strategies for your business.

    Good luck!
    The Dude
    Last edited by The Dude; 08-20-2021 at 07:32 AM.

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    What he said ^^^
    And...also a "error correcting" method after the fact.
    You allocate say 4 hours at the HBM, and the operator ends up taking 6 hours. HBM operator doesn't need to flag you of this fact, simply have the program set-up to automatically generate an error report.

    You get an error report, and you then go find out why the job took longer, making some notations
    in the system for that machine.

    So your people doing the quoting can get updated and doo better next time. Could be the blown time estimate was a one time error, could be the times need to be longer for everything run on that machine.

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