ManufacturingMay 11, 2021

Going Digital for Manufacturing

“I do not need a Production Scheduling solution!” You may have heard…
Avatar Guillaume Chatelus
Digital manufacturing plant.

Production Scheduling Software

“I do not need a Production Scheduling solution!”

You may have heard this statement if you are advocating for a digital manufacturing software in your company. However if your company needs to reduce manufacturing lead times, streamline inventories, boost efficiency, make the right promises to your customers, and all of this at the same time, you need to challenge this status quo. In fact you will probably need to challenge it three times rather one, but it is worth it!

Digitalizing production scheduling brings high value and comprehensive benefits at a relatively small cost, in addition to quickly releasing cash from inventories.

Digital Material Requirements Planning

“My ERP does it all, I do not want to invest in additional third party solutions”

Yes, Material Requirements Planning is a real cornerstone of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in manufacturing due to its key role in aligning the demand, supplies, production, and logistics functions; and there is often the perception that Production Scheduling solutions are redundant with these functionalities.

But, it is in the DNA of ERPs to be transactional solutions, with MRP calculations being based on infinite capacity that are more than often underutilized due to the tremendous number of manual transactions upon which they depend, as well as the difficulty in separating valuable information from the noise generated by MRP alert messages. This usually results in many spreadsheets used in silos across the very functions that ERPs are supposed to align.

A Production Scheduling solution does not compete with ERP; they integrate and talk to MRPs to incorporate finite capacity optimization and automate transactions. They complement, strengthen, and leverage them to deliver overall value to supply chain operations.

Is Digital Manufacturing Lean?

“I want to be Lean – Lean manufacturing is not about software solutions”

Yes, Lean manufacturing principles can apply to the production planning and scheduling activities with techniques such as production volumes and mix leveling (Heijunka), or the use of Kanban systems to pull production flows just-in-time; techniques sometimes perceived as being at odds with Production Scheduling solutions.

However, Lean manufacturing comes from a philosophy, formulated in principles, implemented through techniques, supported by tools or solutions. Far from being at odds with Lean manufacturing principles, a Production Scheduling solution is a digital tool that can support Lean manufacturing techniques with the common goal of minimizing waste in manufacturing processes while delivering the benefits of digitalizing the scheduling process itself.   

A Production Scheduling solution supports Lean manufacturing processes with Lean production scheduling and dispatching processes, and in doing so delivers maximum value to manufacturing operations.

Importance of Going Digital

“We are special – No solution can replace our experience and in-house developments”

Yes, every factory has its specifications. Managing production schedules requires a great deal of product and process knowledge and is often supported by specific spreadsheets or in-house developments. There are often doubts about how much additional value an out-of-the-box Production Scheduling solution could deliver.    

Doubting is natural – change management is an important success factor when implementing a Production Scheduling solution. It is important to remember that it is not about replacing experience but rather leveraging that expertise as efficiently and effectively as possible. It will reduce non-added value efforts, automate and capitalize on best practices, ensuring experts have the right information to support decision-making, and break silos to propagate information to the rest of the organization as a single source of truth.

Production Scheduling solutions empower users and maximize their impact on performance, thereby enabling the entire organization to take full advantage of their expertise.

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