Production planning and scheduling for manufacturing

Production planning increases your manufacturing efficiency. Adjust your production schedule based on inventory, resource and orders. Learn how with Katana.

A production manager tracking manufacturing production with software.
Published: 09.10.2018

Production scheduling is essential for growing manufacturing operations to take their production to the next level.

Has your business grown from a one-man-band to a whole crew? Maybe you’re in charge of a bustling workshop and are looking to maximize efficiency on your shop floor. Whatever the reason, you are going to need a way to optimize your production scheduling and planning.

Nowadays, your scaling manufacturing business has many options for finding production planning software, that has been crafted specifically for modern manufacturers.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to use production scheduling to allocate your resources efficiently and meet customer orders in a cost-effective manner.

So, read on to find out how to improve production scheduling in your scaling manufacturing business.

Become a production scheduling master. Katana gives thousands of manufacturers a live look at operations and automatically schedules production. Take a look with a 14-day free trial.

What is production scheduling?

Production Scheduling is the allocation of raw materials, resources, and processes to produce products for customers.

The purpose of production scheduling is to make your manufacturing process flow with maximum efficiency, by balancing your production needs with your available resources in the most cost-effective manner.

It is making sure your orders are fulfilled in the most efficient way, without interruptions, delay, or stress.

Does that seem like a pipe dream?

Maybe your production flow just needs a few tweaks. Either way, proper production planning, and scheduling are absolutely necessary.

It’s a fact – production scheduling in manufacturing is especially challenging. It is not helped by the wide range of resources and processes to manage.

Right now you might be wondering:

“How is optimal production efficiency possible for scaling manufacturers?”

The answer is simple: find the right tools.

It takes solid management with the right production planning and scheduling software. Do this well and watch as every part of your order fulfillment process work together, as it should.

Without a solid plan to manage and schedule production, even the simplest business can get turned around.

There are many production planning tools available on the market. The problem is that most of these tools are geared towards large manufacturing businesses. This makes them too complex for a business’ needs. On the other side of the scale, there is off-the-shelf software like Excel. This is not robust enough for effective production planning and leaves you few chances to analyze and optimize your processes.

Four stages of production scheduling

The four stages of production scheduling are:

1. Production Planning

Production planning is the process in manufacturing that ensures you have sufficient raw materials, labor, and resources in order to produce finished products to schedule. It is a crucial step in production management and scheduling.

Complete production planning involves the accurate tracking of:

Knowing measurements and figures is not enough. You need to understand how each part of your manufacturing process interacts and works together optimally.

2. Routing

Routing manufacturing is the route or path, to be followed during each step of the manufacturing process. The manufacturing route defines the path from raw materials through to the production of a finished product. If done correctly you’ll know at what stage your item is at and which machine, tool, or work center it needs to travel to next.

3. Scheduling

Production scheduling is the management of these processes to make sure they are completed in a timely and economical fashion.

When an unusually large order comes in, you don’t have to estimate or guess, as you have “the knowledge” — the recipe for everything your business produces — at your disposal.

This recipe is part of your bill of materials (BOM) and is a cornerstone of your Master Production Schedule (MPS).

4. Execution

Execution related to the process of undertaking your production plan. Having already established your production planning, routing, and scheduling, the execution stage is when you issue supporting orders or instructions in order to enable production.

The importance of scheduling production processes

Neglecting your order fulfillment process leads to problems arising sooner or later.

Small inefficiencies may not be noticeable at first. But allow them to continue, then it will grow into a big one. This leads to bottlenecks in your production process. Bottlenecks are slow spots in your production line. They can cause significant issues in your production flow

These issues affect your whole business:

  • Customers will get frustrated with delayed orders
  • Crew members will get stressed and demoralized while struggling to keep up

It takes an effective production manager to diagnose and address the causes of bottlenecks. This takes time and resources which could be spent elsewhere.  Afterward, measures need to be in place that prevents something similar from occurring.

Using production planning software helps you break this process down into manageable pieces. It saves operation managers time when finding ways to optimize the production flow. It allows you to stay on top of your floor-level management.

Some may think that you can rush over management or sweep strategy under the rug.

Make no mistake:

Production scheduling in manufacturing is one of the hardest but most important things to get right.

If any part of your production is off, then delays happen. Manufacturing process optimization means making sure dead stock and disappointed customers are non-existent.

In general, good production planning involves:

  1. Producing goods in the most logical and straightforward way possible
  2. Thinking ahead — anticipating situations like high demand, shortfall, and bottlenecks
  3. Identifying inefficient spots in the production chain
  4. Finding the optimal way to completing orders on time
Small manufacturer using production scheduling software for small business.

Key Factors to Consider in Production Scheduling

Production planning is vital for any manufacturing or craft business. Even basic products need a clear and defined flow to turn them from raw materials into quality goods.

If this is not followed, your products are sure to drop in quality. Without a proper process, your standardized practices are sure to be forgotten.

Crew Management

Use your team well. Your people are a valuable asset to your business. They play a key part in manufacturing process optimization. Make it your business to know your people, including their strengths and weaknesses.

This way, you can assign each team member to the most suitable tasks and machines. If someone is sick or goes on holiday, you have the additional capacity to make up for the temporary loss.

Effective production planning allows you to get the most out of your people and machines. Every team member knows the tasks assigned to them, and what their expected output is.

Keeping tabs on how this process lets you compensate for shortfalls and keep up with high demand.

Running at Capacity

Is your workshop constantly running at 100% of its output? It only takes a minor bump to bring things to a grinding halt.

A good rule of thumb is to always make sure your maximum output is a little higher than what you are doing now by calculating your capacity planning. If you do receive an unusually large order or two, you will be glad you prepared. The same goes for your team as they have enough resources to do their job on time.

Raw Materials

Frequent stalls in production planning mean paying team members and machines to stand-by waiting.

Manufacturing process planning software can integrate MRP. This means you can have the required raw materials available at all times. You never have to push back production because of supply order delays. Priority deadlines do not have to be set back due to undersupply.

There’s no need to be always stepping over excess raw materials on your shop floor.

If done right, warehousing and transport costs won’t skyrocket due to oversupply. As a bonus, every team member always has something to do as they work with the materials that you do have available.

Workshop Logistics

The logistical flow of each part of your manufacturing process also requires consideration.

This may not seem so important, but you would be surprised.

Many a production line has come grinding to a halt as one weak link has been placed on the wrong stage.

Pushing machines and people to unsuitable locations can harm efficiency. Sometimes, what seems like common sense could be deleterious to your flow. It takes careful analysis to figure out how materials, resources, people, and supplies travel around your shop floor.

It may be that a more efficient layout or order exists for your business. Sometimes making a small change can make a world of difference to your production schedule.

Problem Solving

Trial-and-error problem solving costs your business money through each failed attempt. Over ordering or overproducing is a band-aid solution, as this leads to extra costs or staff burnout.

In order to get to the root of a problem, you need effective software to track your flow and find production scheduling issues.

Know Your Manufacturing Processes

Understanding production scheduling principles allows you to methodically oversee your manufacturing. Track and manage everything effectively and everything should work like clockwork. Effective production scheduling makes it easier to do everything by the book – it is set out clearly for your whole team and is available 24/7.

Using Excel Causes Inefficiencies in Production Planning and Scheduling

A lack of production planning software for enterprises has led many manufacturers to get by with spreadsheets. There are three main problems with this approach:

  1. Spreadsheets are slow – it may be better than doing it with a pen and paper, but Excel is still too labor-intensive
  2. Spreadsheets are error-prone – they are vulnerable to mistakes that cause confusion and slow production
  3. Spreadsheets are static – they do not update automatically. This can lead to delays as changes are not communicated

Many modern manufacturers are stuck with Excel because they can’t see any better options. This is understandable. Most manufacturers do not need the gargantuan flow diagrams and Gantt charts seen in large enterprise software.

Shop-bought software like Excel seems like a quick and easy option. But it is not powerful enough for effective production management.

Katana — production scheduling software

Production planning doesn’t have to be complex. Stop spending hours updating spreadsheets or flipping through a manual with intuitive software that connects your inventory, purchasing, and production in one platform. Find out how.

How to Optimize Production Scheduling

Katana is an ERP system that simplifies the production planning process.

The interface is a user-friendly drag-and-drop system. If you want to re-prioritize an order, just drag it to your preferred spot in the list. Katana will automatically allocate the raw materials and other resources to this order.

This high usability means you don’t have to spend an afternoon training yourself or your staff to use it.

The “Operations” screen lets you do production planning as it automatically assigns team members and workstations to each process your manufacturing orders require. There is no need to refer to complicated planning sheets, you just have to check it and go.

The “Manufacturing Schedule” screen lets you review all outstanding manufacturing tasks. If something comes up, or you want to change tack, simply reorganize your manufacturing queue with our intuitive drag-and-drop system.

Our visual interface makes planning and scheduling a walk in the park. It allows you to:

  1. Keep up with demand, and prepare for change
  2. Prevent idle time in your workshop
  3. Significantly reduce scheduling errors
  4. Generate accurate, realistic deadlines
  5. Minimize inventory transport and storage costs
  6. Identify inefficiencies that could lead to production bottlenecks
  7. Gets products out the door and to customers on time

Katana lets small manufacturers plan and schedule their operations through its quick and easy visual interface.

You can see for yourself. You can try Katana for 14 days for free, with no commitment required.

Online Manufacturing Scheduling Software

Katana’s production scheduling software for manufacturing lets you build smart manufacturing processes with its key features:

  1. Smart deadlines: re-prioritize and change orders on the fly by dragging and dropping
  2. Smart inventory management for modern manufacturers
  3. Smart materials allocation: Katana logically redirects raw materials and resources depending on what is needed first
  4. Smart resources: all team members and resources are working together to do their part
  5. Smart time management: see processing times for machining and packaging. Katana organizes your team so their efforts never go to waste
  6. Smart integrations: you can connect your favorite services, from accounting software, like QuickBooks Online to e-commerce platform such as Shopify inventory integration, so that your entire business can be run from a single platform

Start a free trial with Katana today and watch your efficiency rise through the roof.

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