Shipping on time is critical to growth!
Research shows that 99% of customers say that “on time” delivery is very important to them.
In a digital era where buy-now-get-now seems to be the mantra of every competitor, are you ready to meet these demands?
Doing so requires a robust operating model in which each employee is working to his or her top capacity. Job scheduling is a major component of achieving this flow.
The good news? The solution to your scheduling management needs is right within your ERP software. Epicor® ERP scheduling tools make it a cinch to break down even the most complex work orders into manageable components.
Today, we’re taking a look at how this functionality works and why it’s critical as you seek to keep up with ever-evolving customer expectations.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
How Does Epicor® Scheduling Work?
Epicor® job scheduling tools are designed to help you simplify your work orders into individual operations. From there, you’ll assign a start time and end time to each operation.
Not sure where to start?
Most business leaders find it best to start with the date they promised the customer they would deliver their order. From there, they work backward to figure out when the first operation should begin. This is a process known as backward scheduling.
Epicor® ERP software will perform backward scheduling, as well as, forward scheduling. The only issue? When you look at orders on a per-task basis, you fail to take into account how each task feeds into the next.
This understanding is achieved when you take a step back and look at the order as a whole. This is where capacity management comes into play. Let’s take a closer look.
The Role of Capacity Management
In short, capacity management is the process of asking two questions about each work order:
- How much time do we have?
- How many items do we need to produce?
The first question encompasses both labor and machine hours. This is your available capacity. The second question determines your load or the demand placed on the capacity.
To get an accurate view of how many items you can accurately produce in a given timeframe, it is helpful to use a measure called demonstrated capacity. This references historical data to offer a true gauge of your efficiency.
Did your teams work overtime and pump out a bunch of high-dollar orders one week? That is great, but it is not the norm. The same goes for a week where everyone took it easy and there was not as much work to go around.
Find your average capacity by measuring your performance over a few weeks or months. This way, you can be confident that you’ll be able to repeat that same work again.
Once you know your average capacity, you can use Epicor® job scheduling tools to schedule open orders into that capacity. To do so, you’ll choose between Epicor finite scheduling or Epicor infinite scheduling. Let’s review each in detail.
Epicor® Infinite Scheduling
Infinite scheduling is what we discussed above. It’s when you begin with the customer’s expected delivery date and work backward to schedule work orders.
It does not take into account any resource constraints. Instead, it relies on the current work times or lead times of the production flow, backward scheduling assignments to each resource. Resources can be work centers, departments or individuals.
While this is one approach to take, it’s often discouraged because it fails to consider the existing workloads or commitments of the resources.
Thus, though you might use infinite scheduling calculations to determine how many labor or machine hours you need to complete a project, you are not sure if those hours are actually available. This leads to overscheduling, which lowers efficiency along with morale.
The upside? It shows businesses where they need more capacity or where teams are stretched too thin. Then, they can allocate more resources to those areas to meet the time requirements.
Still, it’s not recommended to use infinite scheduling solely when loading your shop floor. Instead, finite scheduling offers a more realistic approach.
Epicor® Finite Scheduling
With finite scheduling, a scheduling manager will recognize and take into account how new orders will affect the current production capacity. Then, without changing the priority of any existing work, the scheduler can adjust timelines as required.
To do so, the scheduler takes each operation in a work order and inserts it into an available block of time on a resource.
This method is preferred over infinite scheduling in the short run, as it keeps every work center or resource running at optimal capacity rather than an overload. In the event that additional resources become available and capacity goes up, managers can adjust the finite plan to meet these new limits.
Epicor finite scheduling uses management by exception. In other words, if all jobs or work orders will meet promised delivery dates, there is nothing which needs to be brought to the attention of the scheduler. However, if Epicor finite scheduling cannot configure the workflow to enable all jobs to be delivered on time, then those jobs are brought to the attention of the scheduler. The scheduler has alternatives to consider in order to enable the late jobs to be delivered on time. Those alternatives are: 1) use more resources simultaneous on the constrained operation(s), 2) work overtime on the constrained operations, 3) subcontract some or all of the constrained operation(s), 4) make other jobs late enabling the more important job to be delivered on time, or 5) accept the fact this job will be late.
Moreover, if machines break down, materials become scarce, or workers are absent, those blocks of time may shift on a regular basis.
This is why it’s helpful for companies to perform infinite scheduling when they are planning their shop floor operations. Entering the following data accurately and timely into your ERP system can help make all scheduling operations as on-time as possible:
- Work order due dates of when the product can ship
- Job routings’ setup and operation times
- A manufacturing plan with the correct parts and quantities
Epicor® Advanced Planning and Scheduling
Shop floor scheduling functionality is available through Epicor’s Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) module.
How does it calculate production and delivery time? It does so by analyzing key data that managers input when they create the Method of Manufacturing (MOM) in their Epicor ERP system. Some of these metrics include:
- Bill of Materials/Operations
- Scheduling Relationships
- Resources and Resource Capacities
- Finite or Infinite Capacity
- Queue Time and Move Time
- Production Time and Prep Time
- Setup time
- Scheduling Blocks
- Constrained Materials
The MOM you create will consist of both materials (BOM) and operations (BOO). You can engineer it to order, pre-engineer it through the engineering workbench, or create it within the job on the fly. While creating your MOM, remember to make sure it accurately represents your standard practices.
Leverage Epicor® Scheduling Tools Today
When it comes to meeting customer demands, there’s no better way to impress your client base than by shipping and delivering on time.
Yet, unless you have an inside look at how your resources are faring and what your actual capacity is, you could overload your teams, discourage your buyers, and disappoint your customers.
With Epicor scheduling, you can mitigate this concern. Once you enter your data into the APS module, you can rest assured that the output is realistic. This way, you can make good on your guarantees and help build trustworthiness.
Want more information on how an Epicor ERP system can transform the way your company does business? We would love to help.
Tomerlin-ERP is an expert team of Epicor® consultants ready to install, implement and maintain your new ERP platform. Get in touch today and let’s take this step forward together.