Production Scheduling Software for Manufacturing

Production scheduling software enables manufacturing businesses to optimize their processes. The right production scheduling software for manufacturing increases throughput and efficiency. Further, it enables businesses to control their labor and equipment costs and lower their overheads.

This guide looks at the place of production scheduling software in make-to-order manufacturing, job shops, and service industries.

Why these types of manufacturing?

Because in contrast to assembly line factories, these businesses have more variety in their incoming customer orders. As a result, they spend more time in the planning stage of production.

This also means that they face more challenges in production planning and scheduling. Therefore, they benefit the most from flexible planning and scheduling software.

When it comes to manufacturing planning and scheduling software, having the right product is the key to its successful implementation.

Finding the right manufacturing planning and scheduling software allows manufacturers to save time, reduce costs and stay ahead of the competition in their field.

What is the right production scheduling software for your operation?

The right solution is about finding a suitable match between your operation’s needs and the features of the scheduling software.

How do you start finding the right production scheduling software for your manufacturing operation?

The answer is by learning. First, you want to learn about the existing features, and what they can do. Second, you need to assess which ones are beneficial to your manufacturing operation.

Since the manufacturing planning and scheduling software with the most bells and whistles might not be a good match for your type of operation. There is some learning curve in the process that you need to master.

We put together this guide to help you gain some of that knowledge.

In this guide, we look at a few key features in production scheduling software for manufacturing. In addition, we review how these features impact your process. To do this we explore:


Production Planning vs. Production Scheduling

Two major parts of the manufacturing planning and scheduling software are production planning and production scheduling. Depending on the size and type of operation this division could be broken down into smaller steps or might overlap each other. Although the naming and sequences might be slightly different, the overall process remains the same.

This section will look at:

1. Production Planning

When a customer order comes in for a new product, the first step is to break down all the steps and required materials. This is covered under production planning or production design.

Two major outcomes of the production planning process are

  • Manufacturing Routing: Determining the sequence of tasks for the production process
  • Bill of Material: Identifying and listing the material
    required in the production process

Production planning is about creating an accurate plan to carry out production. It is about breaking down the production process into tasks and sequencing them in order. The planning process lays out the required material.

Similarly, the planning stage prepares the forecasting reports to estimate the overall cost of the order and its completion time.

Manufacturing Routing

The manufacturing routing process outlines the required tasks to produce a product or finish a production process. One important outcome of this stage is defining the sequence of tasks to finish a customer order/work order/manufacturing order.

Furthermore, in production scheduling software for manufacturing, the routing screen contains other information for each step. These could be the required equipment, number of labor, skills required, parts, raw materials, tools, or other specific considerations.

In Summary, the routing screen is an accurate roadmap of the production. In manufacturing planning and scheduling software, a comprehensive routing feature can give you clear visibility on how a customer order needs to be completed.

The Planning Process Answers the HOW and WHAT questions.

Here are the questions that should be considered in the production planning stage:

  • How much of what raw material would you need?
  • What is the production flow?
  • How many hours would take to do each task?
  • What type of resources are needed? How much of each?
  • What is a rough timing estimate for the entire job?
  • What is a rough cost estimate for the entire job?

Bill of Material

A bill of material (BOM) includes all the raw materials in a production process. The bill of material is an outcome of the design and planning stage.

The BOM defines all parts and their quantity. Creating the bill of material is an important step since it makes sure that all parts will be available when it comes to the production stage. And the production will be running smoothly.

2. Production Scheduling

After the Planning stage comes the scheduling. Production scheduling is about coordinating and assigning resources according to the production plan.

The scheduling process lays out when, where, and by whom each task needs to be completed.

Production scheduling brings resource availability to the planning and creates an exact plan for the completion of each task and the entire customer order.

Production Scheduling is about putting the product design into a precise plan and making it ready for action. In this stage, you assign actual resources to tasks. This stage is about sorting out WHEN and WHERE each task will be done.

Here are some of the questions that should be considered in the production scheduling stage:

  • When should a task be done? By Whom?
  • Where should it be done on the shop floor? Work centers? Machinery?
  • When each piece of equipment should work on a task?

How to Choose the Right Manufacturing Planning and Scheduling Software?

There are a few decisions that you need to make before deciding on the type of production planning and scheduling software you need. Broadly speaking, there are only a handful of features that narrow down your decision about job scheduling software. Here is the list of the most important features in a job shop scheduling software that you need to know:

1. Do You Need Visual Manufacturing Routing?

This goes back to the production planning stage. How much planning and details do you need in the production stage? The answer depends on the size and type of your operation. Here are two possibilities for manufacturing routing:

  • An Organized List of Tasks: Here you will have software that can allow you to define organized lists. These would be the list of all your production stages. Further, the list covers the sequence of the tasks. If you have a few lines of products with limited tasks this might be all that you need.
  • A Visual Manufacturing Routing: A visual manufacturing routing is the best choice for medium to large operations. A production routing is a visual road map that shows how to do a job from start to finish.

In manufacturing routing, you can create a road map for each product and job.

Note: In manufacturing planning and scheduling software, each job might have a little variation from a similar product you can also build a job route quickly from its similar product routes.

In conclusion, routing is about breaking down all the steps, processes, and parts in a customer order (job). A routing map can be extremely helpful in larger or more complex operations.

Typically if your operations have more than one product line this feature could be of great benefit.

For example at QDataHub, we work with companies that have tens of different product lines running at the same time, servicing train cars, buses, turbines, electric engines, etc. Since each of their orders deals with a separate product, they benefit from planning their jobs on visual routing. If you would like to take a look at QShop’s visual manufacturing routing, get in touch to see if it can be helpful to your operation.

2. Do You Need Visual Scheduling?

Another important feature in production scheduling software for manufacturing is visual scheduling. Visual manufacturing scheduling software can help show the big picture of the entire production.

Visual scheduling is also beneficial if you are doing your job scheduling manually. In that case, a calendar that displays the sequence of tasks is a good starting point. Furthermore, a Gantt chart showing the sequence of tasks based on employees, resources, or work centers is a practical feature to have.

However, when it comes to large operations, visual scheduling is not enough by itself.

Eventually, doing job scheduling manually using a calendar or a Gantt chart could be costly and inefficient.

Moreover, you might need to do frequent changes in the production process after the initial scheduling, automated scheduling would be of great benefit to your operation.

For example, a frequent need to change jobs and their priorities after the planning stage is a characteristic of job shops and service and maintenance manufacturing.

As a result, these manufacturing operations can greatly reduce their scheduling overhead by using advanced planning and scheduling software that has an automated scheduling feature.

Similarly, if you do operate a site with more than ten employees you should consider investing in automated production scheduling software to optimize your labor and employee scheduling.

To summarize, depending on the size of the operation a production planning Excel file, a calendar, or a Gantt chart might be used to aid in the scheduling. However, the transforming aspect of any production scheduling software is its ability to automate the scheduling process altogether.

3. Do You Need Automated Production Scheduling Software?

The scheduling complexity depends on the type of manufacturing operation. Yet, there is a considerable amount of coordination that needs to happen in the job scheduling process. The equipment and machinery need to be available for each task. The labor has to be assigned based on skill level and availability. There is also the location or the work centers that need to be given for each task.

Similarly, the job priorities might change due to necessities in the operation. All these changes require changing and adjusting the production schedule to accommodate the needs.

Automated job scheduling needs to take in much information such as:

  • employee hours
  • vacations
  • Holidays
  • equipment availability
  • Equipment capacity
  • work center/workbench availability
  • Raw material availability – inventory

Considering the information given, the automated scheduling software creates the most optimized plan. Next, the calendar or Gantt chart displays the scheduling. And further, you can link the scheduling outcome to your shop control software for access by shop floor employees.

A fully automated manufacturing planning and scheduling software improves manufacturing operations by reducing wait time and improving throughput.

Handling Wait-time in Production

Wait-time: wait time or idle time is a period that a machine or a worker has to wait. This happens due to waiting for materials, equipment maintenance, or waiting for other processes to be completed.

A fully automated production scheduling software improves overall production by:

  • Optimizing the manufacturing production: it helps to reduce idle times and improve the overall throughput. It helps to utilize resources more efficiently and leads to more production with less cost.
  • Handling idle Tasks and Priorities: Any changes in the priorities or tasks can be quickly transferred to production. The ability to generate the entire schedule in less than a minute gives manufacturing businesses the ability to be flexible in their production.
  • Giving Visibility over Production: An automated job scheduling software gives accurate visibility to the management team. This gives valuable insight and better planning ability for making executive decisions.
  • Saving Costs: Automated job scheduling reduces wait time and administration costs on all resources. This can help businesses save costs by optimizing labor scheduling.

Build Trust with Customers. Go full Scheduling Automation!

Building a positive reputation among your customers is about being able to deliver high-quality services every time. Planning right and making the best of all your resources translates into a more reliable service to your customers.

A fully automated manufacturing planning and scheduling software like QShop job scheduling can schedule thousands of tasks in less than a minute. It gives accuracy and precision to your operation and makes sure you consistently deliver high-quality products on time.

Further, it optimizes the manufacturing operation leading to on-time delivery and higher customer satisfaction.

Here are the benefits of fully automated manufacturing and planning software:

  • Lowers labor and operation cost: A fully automated manufacturing scheduling software allows manufacturing businesses to deliver faster and keep their costs under control.
  • Optimize the production: Automated scheduling fully optimizes the production process. As a result, you get to close more jobs in less time.
  • Plan for the coming weeks and months: With automated scheduling software, you can plan months in advance. This gives you consistent delivery and a much better cash flow.
  • Optimize purchase orders and inventory: By scheduling ahead of time, you make sure that your purchase orders are prepared on time. This means the raw materials are available on time. On the whole, this results in more consistent delivery time and more satisfied customers.
  • Achieve consistent delivery: Having an automated schedule makes sure that your customer orders are delivered on time.

Q. Shop Production and Job Scheduling

QShop Software helps repair and overhaul businesses and job shop manufacturing with Job Scheduling, Automated Scheduling, Scheduling Dynamic Changes