Elevate Your Production Heartbeat

Apr 14, 2022

The production schedule is the heartbeat of process manufacturing. It’s the schedule that specifies when, where and how much to make of every product. It’s therefore the schedule that orchestrates production. It’s the schedule that specifies the sequence of production. It’s therefore the schedule that determines throughput. It’s the schedule that specifies actual production quantities. It’s therefore the schedule that determines inventory levels.   

A healthy schedule maximizes throughput, balances supply and demand, and aligns manufacturing activities. An unhealthy schedule wastes time and money, causes service and inventory problems and leads to manufacturing chaos.   

So, it’s surprising that many process manufacturing companies manage this production heartbeat as an afterthought. But it presents a big opportunity for these companies to elevate their production heartbeat by focusing on creating optimized schedules, using the schedule to orchestrate production activity, closing the loop by tracking schedule execution, and continuously improving. 


Schedules are not created equal 

Creating an optimized schedule for hundreds or thousands of products on multiple lines is an extremely complex and error prone endeavour.   

Correct production sequences minimize changeover costs. Every out of sequence product complicates the changeover and wastes time and money. 
Correct cycle times balance changeover and inventory costs. Cycles that are too short or too long cause customer service and inventory problems.  

Creating and maintaining an optimized schedule is impossible without specialized software support. Phenix scheduling software uses Aligned Product Wheels to minimize waste and align production with the business’s customer service, throughput and inventory goals. 

Creating schedules using home grown Excel solutions or ERP and SCM systems distant from the plant is a recipe for unoptimized schedules.   


Schedules must be communicated  

It’s important to communicate the scheduling heartbeat to orchestrate production. Manufacturing personnel should know exactly where they are in the schedule in real-time, and what is coming next. Warehouse personnel can be readying raw materials for the next production run. Maintenance personnel can be preparing for the next changeover. And quality personnel can be alerted to take the necessary samples once the production run is complete.   

It’s also important to be able to react to problems, change the schedule when necessary in an optimal manner and alert everyone to the changes.   

Failing to elevate the production heartbeat and communicate the schedule keeps people in the dark and disrupts the manufacturing process.   


Schedule execution must be tracked 

A perfect schedule that is not followed is worthless. Tracking schedule execution and understanding the reasons for deviations provides the foundation for continuous improvement.   

Tracking schedule adherence, throughput and inventory compliance provide insight into the production process. The schedule can also provide the necessary context to make measures like OEE meaningful.   

Actual production data can be used to tune master data and refine the production model and further optimize the schedule.   


Elevate Your Production Heartbeat

Recognizing that your schedule is the heartbeat of your manufacturing is the first step towards elevating your production heartbeat. Scheduling is a critical activity, equal in importance to planning, and needs your attention now. 

Looking to learn more about how to improve scheduling at your plant? Contact the author or schedule a call here: 

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About the Author

John Theron is Co-CEO of Phenix Software. He has spent his career starting and growing manufacturing and database related software companies and has a track record of groundbreaking software products. 

About Phenix Software

Changeovers and incorrect inventory levels waste significant time and money and affect customer service. Phenix planning and scheduling software uses Aligned Product Wheels to minimize waste and align production with the business’s customer service, cost and working capital goals.