10 Ways to Improve Your Shop Floor Scheduling

In this article, we look into the 10 ways you can improve your Shop floor scheduling and the best tools for the job.
Here are 10 ways manufacturers can effortlessly improve their shop floor scheduling, from traditional techniques to implementing software.
Manufacturing processes need different approaches when manufacturers are working on their shop floor scheduling.

This is due to the set-ups from one factory to another factory being vastly different.  

And how they satisfy orders can be different too, depending on if they make to order, or make to stock.      

Perfecting your shop floor scheduling is essential otherwise you're going to have:  

— Inefficient production lines;    

— Inefficient supply chains; and  

— Dissatisfied customers.  

In this article, we’re going to look into the 10 ways you can easily improve your shop floor scheduling:  

#1 – Knowing When to Start Production;  

#2 – Shop Floor Variability;  

#3 – Raw Material Inventory Management;  

#4 – Demand Planning;  

#5 – Eliminating Spreadsheets;  

#6 – Simplifying Your Quoting Process;  

#7 – Capacity-Loading Scheduling;  

#8 – Theory of Constraints;   

#9 – Getting Set-Up with Real-Time Tracking; and  

#10 – Using an ERP System.      

But firstly:  

What is the Shop Floor?        

The shop floor in manufacturing is a part of the factory or space where people work with tools and machinery (which can be automated) to manufacture goods.     

Your shop floor also includes your inventory and storage.   

Your shop floor management includes strategies and systems to:    

— Rank;    

— Track; and    

— Report production orders and schedules.    

When thinking about what is shop floor, you can think of it as the area where the magic happens.  

Anything related to the physical manufacturing of your product is a part of the shop floor.      

Without a proper shop floor schedule in place, it’s going to be difficult to bring together all these different elements.  

What is Shop Floor Scheduling?           

Shop floor scheduling is taking everything related to manufacturing, that’s including the:    

— Inventory;   

— Resources; and   

— Capacity limits.    

And coordinating all these elements to form a master production schedule (MPS) that’ll let managers and operators know:   

— What needs to be done?   

— Who needs to do it? and   

— When does it need to be done?   

To effectively control these activities, a manufacturer needs to understand the infrastructure of their business, and have a clear understanding of how their shop floor operates.  

Without this, they won’t be able to properly develop their schedule.  

So, here are 10 tips that will help you improve your shop floor scheduling.  

PRO TIP: You’ll only be able to keep on top of your scheduling if you have perfected your shop floor planning.  

1. Knowing When to Start Production         

Woah, wait? You can improve scheduling by scheduling?   

Scheduling production is one thing, but knowing when to begin production is another.   

It might seem logical to begin production as soon as manufacturing orders are generated (and most cloud-based manufacturing software schedule production this way).    

However, you run the risk of overburdening your work-in-progress (WIP) manufacturing by sending MOs to a workstation too soon.   

To avoid this issue, you need to develop a plan or take advantage of shop floor scheduling software that can provide you with flexibility.  

Focusing on this allows you to efficiently prioritize orders instead of completing them one-by-one.   

2. Shop Floor Variability           

In manufacturing, you can have your shop floor planning down to a tee. But, there’s still a lot of opportunities for issues to arise which will affect production, such as:   

— Late deliveries of raw material;   

— Employees unable to come in and finish a job; or   

— An important order comes through and puts all other projects on hold. 

Problems are going to inevitably arise, and your shop floor scheduling needs to anticipate these problems, and adjust your production accordingly, so you can continue making your products.  

3. Raw Material Inventory Management               

To follow your shop floor scheduling, you’re going to need raw material and components ready to complete MOs.   

But that doesn’t mean stocking inventory just in case a load of orders come in, because that’s going to take up valuable storage space and drive up your carrying costs.   

This is where raw material inventory management comes into play.   

By understanding how much inventory you need, you can plan your shop floor scheduling to include:   

— A realistic output of finished goods; and  

— The manufacturing lead times.  

4. Demand Planning             

Another way to improve your shop floor scheduling and even your inventory management is to do some demand planning.  

Demand planning will allow you to make an educated prediction on future demand by looking into:  

— Seasonality sales;  

— Your competitions sales; and  

— Your historical sales  

Your demand planning is going to help you better plan your shop floor scheduling by anticipating future orders.    

5. Eliminating Spreadsheets       

Maybe, in the beginning, managing your business via Excel or Google Sheets was fine. But, as your business expands, sales increase and your manufacturing processes become more complex - spreadsheets will eventually become a burden.   

Spreadsheets are inefficient because they require constant manual updates, and one mistake can lead to you making business decisions with information that’s incorrect.  

Unless you upgrade your business to shop floor scheduling software, you’re going to find problems with spreadsheet management such as:  

— Pouring human resources into keeping them updated;  

— Playing catch-up from simple human error;  

— Having trouble capturing data on your production; and  

— Slowing down your business’s growth.     

PRO TIP: Once you’ve mastered shop floor production, you’re still going to need to deliver on these deadlines. Be sure to look for tools that can help you get your production management under control, so you don’t lag behind on orders.   

6. Simplifying Your Quoting Process          

Another way to improve your shop floor scheduling is to approach your quoting processes differently.    

For example, maybe for each new quote, you have to manually calculate the costs and locate and compare older quotes to help you generate a new one.  

This might be ideal when orders are predictable and come in one at a time. But, as you already know, that’s not how it goes in the real world.  

The longer you take processing and generating quotes, the longer you, your staff, and the customer has to wait before production can begin.  

7. Capacity-Loading Scheduling           

To do this efficiently, you’re going to need shop floor scheduling software that can provide you with data to analyze your production lines.   

The principle of capacity-loading scheduling is to schedule production based on what is achievable, and there are two ways of doing this:   

— Forward Scheduling: Calculating the earliest time you can complete a customer’s order; or   

— Backward Scheduling: Calculating the start date of production, depending on available resources, and material from the due date.   

Regardless of if you choose forward scheduling or backward scheduling, calculating the capacity of your workstations will allow you to better schedule your jobs.   

8. Theory of Constraints             

Before the advent of shop floor scheduling software, there was an approach to scheduling manufacturing, developed in the 1980s, called the theory of constraints (TOC).   

The idea behind TOC is that the performance of your production line, all depends on the performance of underlying constraints.   

It’s a form of lean manufacturing that helps you identify weak points (be that internally or externally to your shop floor) and address those issues to improve your production workflow.  

9. Getting Set-up with Real-Time Tracking             

The only true way to understand what’s happening on your shop floor is to get a system that can provide you with an overview of production in real-time.   

With shop floor scheduling software that has real-time tracking, you can monitor and make business decisions there and then, on:   

— Inventory;  

— Production progress; and    

— Employees status.     

Getting this information quickly and updated constantly means you can easily:   

— Reduce waste;   

— Minimize downtime;    

— Maximize output; and   

— Read your manufacturing overheads.   

10. Using an ERP System              

You can implement the majority of points listed above manually. But, to effortlessly implement these points, manage your business, and optimize production, you’re going to need to get set up with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.   

A shop floor scheduling software like an ERP is going to give you:  

— Total visibility;  

— Improved reporting and planning; and  

— Improved efficiency.   

ERP systems help you increase your shop floor scheduling by allowing you to break down complex processes, avoid data re-entry, and give you the tools to improve everything else from production to delivery.    

The Benefits of Improving Shop Floor Scheduling              

Optimizing your shop floor scheduling is going to help you and your employees:  

— Stay focused on the most important tasks; 

— Stock the optimal level of inventory; and  

— Have a centralized point of communication in the business, between your shop floor workers and other departments.  

But the other benefits you can expect to enjoy from working on your shop floor planning is:   

— Improved efficiency;  

— Enhanced capacity planning;  

— A better understanding of your due dates;  

— Focused priorities;  

— Increased revenue;  

— Reduced WIP inventory;  

— Reduced set-up time; and  

— Monitoring the progress of production.   

But that begs the question, which is the best shop floor scheduling software for the job?

Katana Shop Floor Scheduling Software                

Katana Smart Manufacturing Software is a shop floor scheduling software, not only designed to improve your shop floor but built to help you get more control over:   

— Raw material, WIP, and finished goods inventory;   

— Production planning processes; and   

— Your entire business from the shop floor to the backend.   

Katana supports your shop floor scheduling with tools to help you:  

Prioritize Orders        

Our nifty drag-and-drop feature allows you to easily reprioritize work orders, so you can focus on the orders that require more resources and keep your production running smoothly.  

Manage Tasks      

Assign tasks to your workers and use the dashboard to track their progress or reassign tasks. While your workers can:  

— Receive tasks;  

— Start tasks;   

— Pause tasks; and   

— Complete tasks.     

Gather Analytics and Reporting            

With Katana you can gather data so you can:  

— Give better price estimations;  

— Have better lead-time estimations;  

— Improve shop floor workers efficiency; and  

— Lower your labor costs.    

And there we have it! Everything you need to know to improve your shop floor scheduling.   

However, the quickest and most efficient way to improve your scheduling is to implement shop floor scheduling software.   

So, why not give Katana a try? We offer a 14-day free trial, so you can test it out for yourself without making any commitments.  

If you have any questions, we’re ready and waiting to answer them down below or over on our social media channels.   

And until next time, happy manufacturing.