Production planning is a dynamic problem to solve, as the variables seem infinite.
As more and more global regions move to high-mix with increasing volume production, the planning task of running multiple products effectively through existing assets and resources poses a significant scheduling challenge. Manufacturing plants today are challenged with shipping the required quantity of products on time, at quality levels, and at planned cost. Over the years there have been many automated systems developed to “simulate” the production environment and try to lock down many of the variables so that schedules can be “optimized”. Although there is a large diversity in opinions whether those approaches work, there is commonality in goals and factors to consider. Tactical production planning is currently done with tools such as MS Excel or even a large whiteboard on the factory floor.
Many variables affect a schedule. Is there a system in place that can provide the information needed to put together a “good” schedule, then measure it and improve moving forward? As we move from a monthly schedule, to weekly schedule, then to a daily schedule, these variables have a large effect on the schedule’s success.
The goal should be a consistent schedule whereby products are shipped on time, at planned quantity, at planned quality at planned cost.
Let’s explore the best practices, influences, challenges, practical measurements and metrics and finally tools available to meet those challenges.