JobPack production scheduling, machine monitoring and analytics software - ERP

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5 top things to look for in a scheduling and analytics system

When you are choosing a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to run every aspect of your shop, look for one that gives you complete accuracy, visibility into your machines and personnel, real-time responsiveness, flexibility to work like you do, and simplicity to make it readily accessible to everyone.

ERP systems cover many areas within a business that can help streamline operations: order processing, payments, accounting, and CRM functions. But more often than not, the scheduling module (if even offered) is something that seems impossible to setup, impossible to use daily, and impossible to get any relevant and real information out of.

In working with many different ERP systems over the years, and integrating a separate MES into these packages, I have come to realize that the ERP system was often built up around the financials module. After all, it’s the financial module that gets the big deals done. The issue this presents is that the ERP modules are built around accounting and as a result do not work with the MES or scheduling module. Accountants set up and justify costs based upon the other functions of the ERP system — quotes, inventory, and profitability — but planned times, machine run rate and costing rates typically are calculated differently on the shop floor versus what is defined in the financial modules. As these modules are all tied together, it's nearly impossible to receive real scheduling data to perform planning, estimate delivery dates, or get a true indicator of internal operating costs.

So, what is a Production Planner to do?

You could spend time trying to wrestle with your ERP system's scheduling module, but chances are you’ve already tried this and realized quickly that this will not work. You could resort to the Excel spreadsheet, but there is also a very good chance you were doing this alongside trying to use your ERP. The pitfalls as you probably already know are: it takes a long time to maintain, everyone has a different copy, its outdated the moment your done compiling it for the day, there’s no long-range planning, and worst of all the data is incorrect and static.

It’s time to take the MES Scheduling leap

An MES needs to be able to give you:

  • Accuracy: Provide accurate dates of when production orders will complete
  • Visibility: Provide indication of bottlenecks within the production process
  • Responsiveness: Adjust based on finite capacity information and operator feedback
  • Flexibility: Accommodate various scenarios with production
  • Ease of use: Be easy to use for the end user

What to look for

Accuracy: When talking about scheduling or production planning, the ultimate goal is to know when jobs will really start and when they will really finish. This leads to the most important aspect of all: providing correct delivery dates to the customer. In order to obtain accuracy, you must have correct data such as correct routing steps and planned times. That doesn’t mean you must have these things nailed down prior to purchasing a system. If you need to gather accurate times, find a system that has a mechanism to clock operations in and out so you can collect the real-time data for the next time you run the job. An effective MES system must be built upon finite capacity and move in real time starting with today’s date and moving forward.

Visibility: Visibility within the system is key. The user needs to be able to identify where the job is, where it will be, and any changes that are occurring based on other work around it. The MES should also have the ability to easily identify any late jobs before they are late. If all you are presented with is pages and lists of data, it is extremely time consuming to identify what is happening and why. The scheduling tool should be visual in its calculation of jobs and operations.

Flexibility: Flexibility is required so you can alter the course when needed to keep those promised delivery dates. I’m not talking about adding a 25th hour to the day, but flexible to the point where you can run scenarios and see the net outcome immediately. Manufacturing is anything but static. So if you can’t adjust your schedule and see the results right away, not only will the information have changed by the time you see the outcome but its wasted time waiting for the system to recalculate. A good MES should be able to run various scenarios within realistic parameters to see how that impacts your customers' orders. If you can’t do this, then you are no better off than when you were running Excel as your main component for production planning.

Ease of use: This one sounds like a no brainer but is probably the most overlooked function of a system. You can have the best scheduling program in the world, but if your users are scared of it or can’t get their heads around how to use it, it’s useless. A good system can provide the previously mentioned attributes but still be simple enough to understand how it performs them. Make sure you can easily identify what data will be required for the system, how to run a scenario, how to undo a change, and where to get the highlights such as real delivery dates, work queue, and what jobs are late before they are due.

JobPack® Introduces JobFacts Cloud Reporting and Analytics

JobPack® Production Scheduling Systems, a leader in providing MES solutions to small and medium sized manufacturing companies, is proud to announce the release of JobFacts™.

JobFacts™ is a web-based analytics program designed to integrate with your JobPack® Scheduler production data and can be further configured with your current ERP system to provide additional data across all platforms. With an easy to use control panel system, JobFacts™ allows you to name Key Performance Indicators and set their thresholds. Up-to-date information helps in spotting trends and reveals any performance issues allowing you to act quickly and run more efficiently. View your data at any time on any mobile device.

JobFacts™ provides KPI’s to reduce downtime by 17% at Meyn America

Initial testing and beta sites have proven to be extremely successful. Meyn America has expanded the use of the JobPack® Real Time Graphical Scheduling System and soon to implement JobFacts™ cloud-based analytics package to its sister plants in Poland and Holland. Georgia-based Meyn installed JobPack® Core in November of 2015 as an extension to their current Baan LN ERP system. Since going live in March of 2016, overtime working has been reduced by 8.5% and machine shop throughput has increased by 17%. On time deliveries are at 96%.

Fred Alexander, plant manager says, “Since we started with the JobPack® project, everyone’s confidence in delivery dates has greatly improved. And, as we don’t need to pad out times, we have used that spare capacity to improve the bottom line and reduced overtime working.”

The new installations will be on line in 2017 starting in February along with the software development for further integration into Baan LN to include material and tooling delivery notifications.

JobPack® Production Scheduling Systems has collaborated with Anviznet Analytics (JobFacts™) to provide a complete range of dashboards to view your live shop floor metrics from any device whether on or offsite.

The Fallacy of Infinite Capacity Scheduling

Most ERP systems operate on an infinite capacity scheduling system. Infinite is defined as “having no limits or boundaries in time.” Changes in your company’s production allows the schedule to fill in jobs to a limitless number of days, hours, and machine shifts. But the drawback of infinite capacity scheduling is that it’s too easy for managers to fool themselves into thinking jobs can be adjusted without inevitable consequences to budget and deadlines.

So, is infinite scheduling the right production management solution for a workplace with real-world constraints? Not always.

Finite scheduling defines time that is actually worked, taking limitations by different resources into consideration. By creating a realistic model of shift times, materials, number of operations, machine set up times and cycle times, this allows for a more accurate view of your shop floor’s capacity.

Production planning with finite scheduling anchors decisions in real-time data. Being able to view the shop floor with real-time restrictions gives managers the opportunity to see the tradeoffs in delivery dates, increased labor costs, expedited shipping costs and other variables when confronted with real-world time altering factors, such as rush jobs, downtimes, material outages, etc.

“What-if scenarios” can be evaluated in a framework of real-world constraints with production planning systems like JobPack®. With a drag-and-drop graphical user interface, a management team can evaluate capacity, costs, and delivery dates by creating different scenarios that automatically adjust the schedule to see what impact those actions have, and if those are not the desired outcomes, then the schedule can be instantly reverted back to the original.

Finite scheduling systems are particularly helpful for integrating various production schedules. For instance, if one department or process is on a two-shift schedule, and another department, such as shipping, is on a single shift, finite capacity scheduling provides accurate date projections that account for these real-world manufacturing variables.

When production scheduling data is constrained to finite scheduling, the result is improved accuracy and greater accountability in production planning scheduling. Better data will lead you to making better decisions. And better decisions on the production floor means greater satisfaction both internally and with external customers.

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