Production Planning and Scheduling for Manufacturing

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

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.

Try Production Scheduling Software Free for 14 days. Schedule your Production Accurately with Katana MRP.

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.

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 is 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 they 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.

Try a Production Scheduling Software that is tailored for your manufacturing business.

Free Trial of Katana MRP to make Production Planning and Scheduling Simple

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 interact and work together optimally.

2. Routing

Routing 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 businesses 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 causes of bottlenecks. This takes time and resources which could be spent elsewhere.  Afterwards, 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; and  

  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 businesses. 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. 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 in 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 which cause confusion and slow production; and

  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..

How to Optimize Production Scheduling

Katana MRP is a Smart Material Requirements Planning 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; and

  7. Gets products out the door and to customers on time.

To see how it works in practice, check out our mini-guide below.

Katana Production Scheduling Mini-Guide

Operations in Katana Explained

Katana is helpful for your whole crew. You and your team members can log into the cloud-based system from anywhere.

So, let’s check out how to plan production schedule with our software.

Firstly, in the “Operations” screen you can see daily tasks, alongside processes, and machines.

The example below shows a small business that makes leather goods. You can see two team members: John and Mary, and one machine: a leather sewing machine.

There are four orders on display: MO-2 to MO-5. MO stands for manufacturing order. More recent orders have lower numbers, so the first chronological order will be MO-1.

Katana automatically puts the first order to the top of the list, but of course you can customize this as much as you need.

The arrows on the right hand side of the screen show that nothing has been started yet.

Katana's Operation Screen for Production Scheduling and Inventory Control.

From this screen, each team member can see the tasks that you have queued for them. When you prioritize orders in the “Manufacturing” screen, your team’s tasks get shifted to show this. Katana calculates the completion time based on other processes such as machining.

With Katana, the system does not wait around to tell your staff to start a new order. If your first order is still being machined, Katana will allocate team members to tasks further down the list. Your team can use Katana to work out when they can shift back to the first item on the list.

Katana assigns the most logical tasks for your team to do to create harmony on your shop floor.

There is no idle time for smart manufacturers. You can plan your whole manufacturing production schedule in the most efficient way possible.

As your team completes their tasks, they can check it off the list. The screen below shows several completed tasks, clearly identified by the green check box.

When a team member starts a new task, they mark it in-progress by clicking the box to yellow.

Katana’s Operations - Production Scheduling Software Online.

If you want to know about an order, you can click on any part of it. This brings up a detailed breakdown of all important information linked to it, including raw materials and processes. This is kept off the main screen to keep everything clear and readable. You don’t need the same unreadable clutter seen in large enterprise software.

You can define as many operations as your products need. It doesn’t matter how simple or complex your products are, Katana breaks the process down into manageable chunks for your team.

Manufacturing Scheduling in Katana

So you’ve worked out your operations and everything is going to plan and suddenly a new order comes in.

This is a new client, and they ask if you could get a large order to them by the end of next week. You know that this could a repeat customer if you get this right.

Katana’s “Manufacturing Scheduling” screen lets you organize this with ease. Here, you can find the new order, and simply click and drag it to the top of your manufacturing queue.

By default Katana is set to amend the deadlines of this new order, and all other outstanding orders automatically, as seen below. The deadline dates of every item in the queue will be changed to reflect this new order.

Katana’s manufacturing process planning software.

So there you have it! 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 smart inventory management for modern manufacturerst;

  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; and

  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 to eCommerce platform such as Shopify inventory integration, so that your entire business can be run from a single dashboard.

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

Katana MRP Smart Manufacturing Software.