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Planning and Scheduling Software Resources

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Planning and Scheduling Software Resources


Implementing a planning and scheduling software program is a daunting task; there are a lot of interrelated pieces. The biggest part of the structure, in my opinion, is modeling the resources for scheduling. The people, equipment, materials and constraints that are being scheduled are the resources which must be considered to plan your production. One of the advantages of planning and scheduling software is the ability to consider multiple groups of resources and constraints at the same time. To that point, just about everyone is scheduling equipment and having to consider the people or labor behind that production as well. Those are generally the most obvious scheduling resources, but then filtering orders through a host of other factors including tooling, power, calendars, material delivery, delivery date of the order, conflicts with other orders, and machine breakdowns can change the schedule drastically.

One of our favorite planning and scheduling software partners is Preactor. Resources in Preactor are divided into two major categories: primary and secondary. Your primary resources are the items that will appear on the Gantt chart and are referred to by Preactor as “Resources”. While the secondary resources, referred to as “Secondary Constraints” are considered by the program in the background and can be viewed in different ways, they do not appear directly on the Gantt. The Material constraints are handled separately by Preactor and are not available in the Express addition.

This, then, is your first decision: which are your primary resources and which are your secondary resources? Typically machines or work centers are your primary resources. You are scheduling the machines and trained person to run the machine is the secondary constraint. There are many situations, however, where it makes more sense to schedule the human resources as primary. If you have a small group of people who work across a broad range of machines it makes sense to assign the people as the primary resource. We see this a lot in assembly, specialty machine shops, and repair centers. In this case, the people are always busy while the machines are sitting idle at any given time. You are scheduling the people as the primary constraint and the machine availability becomes the secondary constraint, both must be satisfied to place the operation on the schedule. The versatile features of Preactor allow you to take either of these approaches for each line or area of your facility depending on what makes the most sense for each production line.

The primary resources can be grouped to create a pool of resources for Preactor to choose from to complete an operation, i.e. you could have a group called Drill Presses that included resources Drill Press 1, Drill Press 2, Drill Press 3, etc. When you call on the resource group Drill Presses, Preactor will choose the first available Drill Press to complete the work. In the case where the people are the primary resource, you could have a group called Welders and resources of Bob, Ted, Bill, etc. This exact scenario is shown below with the machine resources for the Drill Presses and the people resources for the welders to the left being displayed for each of three orders going through the Drill Presses and the Welders with the people needed to run the drill press and the equipment needed to weld being considered in the background but not being displayed:


Schedule Example


We love helping companies streamline planning and scheduling activities, resulting in increased capacity, profit, and customer satisfaction! You can read more about our planning and scheduling capabilities here.


Rod Kerchner

Written by Rod Kerchner

I spent 8 years scheduling production at a medium-sized, privately held plastic injection molding company, 4 years scheduling the material and logistics before that. I scheduled mostly using Excel, even after 12 years. It was brutal. That's why I love working at Toward Zero. I get to help our customers overcome some of the frustrations I had as master scheduler - using spreadsheets to keep track of ever-changing variables. I spent my days putting scheduling jigsaw puzzles together. Over and over and over again. Got that schedule done yet? The planning and scheduling software I now work with gives me a chance to help other scheduling and planning ninjas get a new weapon. These software tools allow schedulers to look closer at a wider set of variables, build a better plan and react quicker when the plan changes. Give me 30 minutes, and I will show you how to get half your day back - and have a greater impact on your business.

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