VISUAL's advanced planning & scheduling engine considers both material and capacity constraints when generating your shop resource schedule.

It provides you with the power to plan and achieve, on-time deliveries, you can quickly identify bottlenecks and constraints and leverage this knowledge to increase throughput and profitability.

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Before, we had to run out to the shop floor every time a customer called. Now, all we have to do is click on VISUAL to know instantaneously where a job is in production, who's working on it, and when the customer can expect delivery.

Joe Griffin, Jr President, Griffin Gear Company, Inc.

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VISUAL Scheduling
VISUAL Scheduling

The Production Planner

The production planner's life can be very frustrating, using excel spreadsheets and whiteboards, they constantly try to juggle all of the customer demands, while at the same time trying to consider the availability of capacity, materials and of other resources such as tools, jigs and fixtures.

And by the time they have managed to squeeze everything in, and finally come out with the plan, it is already outdated and they have to start all over again.

This is the daily reality for planners at many order-driven businesses who are constrained by their capacity and have "fluid" schedules.

Manual scheduling typically uses "planning windows" of one day or even one week, meaning that the planner will for example create a list of jobs that each resource needs to complete today, or this week. It is then normally left up to the line leader or supervisor to decide in which order to run these jobs, and this is what results in longer leadtimes, high WIP levels and lots of queueing time.

Manual Scheduling Scenario

Let's say there is a simple work order to be completed with just 2 operations, the first one is Milling and the second one is Grinding.

Milling starts work at 8 o'clock on Monday morning and finishes it at 12 o'clock the same day. However the Grinding Machine which it requires next, is already working on another job which won't be finished until Tuesday lunchtime as the Grinding supervisor has planned his job list in a different order than Milling.

This means that the job is sat on the shop floor doing nothing for one day, and this is what increases your WIP levels, extends your manufacturing leadtimes and has other undesirable effects.

But this is not the fault of the Planner, There are simply too many dynamic factors for the human mind to consider, and this is where Visual can help you.

VISUAL's Concurrent Scheduler

Unlike the manual planner who plans daily or weekly job lists, Visual plans to the minute, and the goal is to schedule every job to be completed on-time based on the availability of capacity, materials and other resources, and with minimal queue times.

So rather than giving a list of jobs to the supervisors and letting them decide the order in which to run them, Visual produces a "Shop Dispatch Report", one report per supervisor, and this tells them not only the order in which to run the jobs, but also when they should be started and when they should be completed based on the standard times.

This will provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced Queue Times
  • Reduced Lead Times
  • Reduced WIP Levels
  • Reduced Raw Material Inventory
  • Increased Job Visibility
  • Improved Cashflow
  • Increased Throughput
  • Increased Profits

But Visual is so much more than just an ERP system, it is also a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and as such it uses a closed-loop system that constantly adjusts itself from data being transacted by other users in the system such as labour tickets created by the shop floor operators, purchase receipts from vendors, materials issued to production as well as new sales order demands received.

Rush Jobs and Priority Changes

Constantly changing production schedules are a daily reality in many order-driven businesses. Before the production planner has even finished and printed the schedule, he is already working on new changes which are occurring dynamically.

Typical reasons for this are:

  • Urgent Jobs are constantly received.
  • Existing order dates constantly change.
  • Jobs are split to expedite a smaller qty.
  • Delays due to machine down-time.
  • Delays due to material unavailability.
  • Delays due to unavailability of tooling.
  • Delays due to scrap / rework.
  • Delays due to job over-runs.

VISUAL manages all these changes for you dynamically, in the background, by monitoring changes to the customer demands, the availability of materials, the availability of capacity, and importantly what is ACTUALLY happening on the shop floor against what was planned to happen.

This closed-loop system ensures that you are constantly taking into account all of the factors that effect your schedule You can re-prioritize work orders so that the scheduler will run any high priority jobs in front of normal or lower priority demands without having to adjust the original want dates, as well as group jobs with similar features in order to minimize setup times.

The Scheduling Window


Click image to enlarge
The Scheduling Window allows you to view the schedule in a full-color graphical format, highlighting late jobs in red. Zoom in to closely focus in by the minute, zoom out to see the long-term loading & utilization.

You can create "Shop Views" in order to group, sort and filter specific resources into logical groups. Click on any operation for a work order and highlight all of the other operations for the same work order.

Create multiple what-if schedules to test different capacity loadings and graphically compare the different schedules on the screen. Select free capacity for one resource and drop it onto another resource to temporarily increase capacity for a resource.

The “Drag and Drop” feature allows you to make adjustments to the schedule quickly and simply by clicking and dragging, the Global Scheduler details each attempt it makes to re-schedule the job.

Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS)

Unlike other ERP software, which isolate capacity planning from material planning, VISUAL uniquely combines material availability and capacity availability checking together using a time-based, holistic approach. This is now known commonly as APS or Advanced Planning & Scheduling.

Traditional MRP-type systems create a production plan that may be unrealistic because raw material or purchased components cannot be acquired in time to meet the available capacity, causing users to reserve capacity that will be wasted and presenting them with a falsely optimistic picture of on-time delivery capabilities.

These systems may also force you to create a capacity plan, then check it against a material plan, make adjustments, recheck against a new capacity plan, and recheck against a new material plan, and so forth in a never ending loop of frustration. VISUAL however, will produce a production plan that realistically reserves capacity for work only when the required materials and sub assembly components are available. The result is a production plan that is realistic, and one that can be achieved with your available resources.

VISUAL's group scheduling capabilities offer greater dimensions than those found in other systems. By referencing a single resource in a routing, the user may indicate that many resources are actually required to accomplish the work and that all must be available simultaneously for the work to be done.

As an example, when a piece of equipment and a skilled operator is required, plus one or more tools or fixtures to accomplish a single task, VISUAL makes sure that all of those resources are available before reserving capacity at any of them to accomplish a task.

Scheduling Features

  • Choose finite or infinite scheduling and optionally set individual work centers to infinite within a finite schedule.
  • Verify material availability along with capacity.
  • Schedule indirect activities such as Engineering design, first article tests etc.
  • Schedule your sub contractors and external service activities.
  • Use forward and backward scheduling capabilities to make the most efficient use of your resources.
  • Calculate and display critical path and determinant path time lines.
  • Maintain availability calendars for separate machines or machine groups.
  • Schedule both Setup and Run Times using hours per piece, pieces per minute, minutes per piece, hours per load and define the load sizes.
  • Define the minimum and maximum number of machines for the same operation
  • Exclude machines during planned and unplanned maintenance.
  • Perform a capacity analysis to determine when too much or too little capacity has been allocated to a work center, and when you have excess capacity for a resource.
  • Run "what-if" scenarios to determine the effects of changes in capacity, load, or timing.
  • Use “Drag and Drop” to make scheduling changes quickly and easily.
  • Prioritize work orders to override the customer want dates.
  • Move capacity from an under-used resource to one requiring more capacity.
  • View the reasons for bottlenecks and constraints.
  • Plan for materials to be delivered or issued when the job is scheduled to start
  • Include Jigs & Fixtures in the BOM and demands for them will be generated
  • Create daily to-do lists for your line leaders / supervisors.
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