The Secret to Better Shop-Floor Scheduling

October 24, 2023

Written by: Paul Van Metre and David Vuyk

Are you guilty of over-promising and under-delivering? Have customers become accustomed to your inability to meet due dates as promised? Earning a reputation for being late isn’t going to propel your business forward, and its effect on customer perception of your business could be catastrophic.

Does managing shop floor scheduling and on-time delivery leave a pit in your stomach? The dynamic nature of the shop floor can make scheduling jobs and achieving on-time delivery feel like a constant battle. This can be a source of stress for so many manufacturers today. If you’ve been feeling this way, know that you aren’t alone. 

Being consistently late makes life difficult for you, your team, and your customers, and unfortunately, this problem isn’t uncommon. It’s one of the main reasons manufacturers inquire about ProShop ERP in the first place. They’re tired of the mayhem that results from managing late jobs. Can ProShop help with that? Absolutely. That being said, the “how” might be a little different than what you were expecting. 

Some among you might be tempted to say: “But every shop has issues with on-time delivery. That’s just how it is!” 

Good luck with that approach. While it might be a fairly common problem to have, ask yourself this: If a customer had to choose between your shop which has a track record for shipping late, and a competitor shop who consistently achieves over 95% on-time delivery, who would they pick, all other things being equal?

Customers aren’t the only ones negatively affected by the shop floor pandemonium. You can only push your employees so hard. When racing around the shop trying to get late jobs out the door becomes the “normal” mode of operation, their job satisfaction will suffer. Building an excellent company culture with great employee retention relies on systems and processes that minimize chaotic situations like this.

Perhaps many shops DO struggle with on-time delivery, but that doesn’t make it ok. Customer relationships are based on trust. That trust gets damaged every time we promise a delivery date, and miss the mark. If you’re looking to make your manufacturing business stand out from the rest, focus on being trustworthy and reliable when it comes to meeting customer requirements like lead time. You’d be surprised by the impact.   

Had enough of managing late jobs? If you’re looking to solve this problem for good, then it’d be worth observing some of the typical reasons why this problem exists in the first place, and we how solve them in ProShop: 

1. Agreeing to a defined lead time without actually checking if you have the capacity to meet the requirement.
Saying yes to a lead time requirement in an effort to win the work without actually checking to see if you have the bandwidth to make it happen is a bad choice. Time and resources are, unfortunately, finite. It’s time to stop agreeing to lead times that you know you can’t meet. 

ProShop’s schedule and phantom job placement can help you account for the time the job would take, and see its impact alongside other jobs in the pipeline. This can help you determine if you have the capacity to meet the lead time.  

2. Missing details during the estimating phase.

When building out a detailed estimate, it can be easy to miss things that have a large impact on lead times. This might include not accounting for the round trip lead time of an outside process, being too optimistic about process times, and missing long-lead tooling requirements. These factors alone could add up to weeks worth of delays. ProShop’s detailed estimating module allows you to make note of these details so that they can be planned for.

3. A lack of communication and planning.
You need a planning process in place for incoming new orders. This might include your contract review, job planning, and war-room planning process and planning meetings. This ensures that the right people are in the room to review all project details. 

The pre-processing checklist built into the digital work order ensures that planning details like purchase requests for materials and tooling are completed for each job.

Regular scheduled production meetings can be helpful to discuss any WIP which might be held up for various reasons. This meeting might include discussion regarding open NCR’s, late vendor purchases, expediting, scheduling issues, and other blockers.

4. Inaccurate target times.
Since estimated set-up and cycle times are used to calculate job duration on the schedule, being too optimistic about how long the job will take can have a huge impact on achieving on-time delivery. It is important to be realistic about how long things will take during the estimating phase. Programmers can edit and update target times via the simulated time values from their CAM software. Later, the machinist can then also change the target time based on ACTUAL times achieved in getting a first part completed. When the target times become more accurate as information becomes available, the schedule becomes more accurate as a result.

5. Lack of shop floor visibility.
Knowledge is power, as they say. When you have visibility regarding your operations, you are better equipped to make decisions. ProShop provides that visibility with dashboards and reports that provide you with the needed information..  

The machine schedule can provide a view into your existing pipeline, order of priority for active jobs, job status, and capacity planning features.

Dashboards for shipping and inspection can provide teams with a summary of jobs that are awaiting their attention, so that jobs aren’t sitting idle any longer than they need to. The receiving dashboard can alert teams to any outstanding vendor PO’s for materials or tooling that haven’t yet arrived, which may impact on-time delivery as well.

A summary of jobs that are late or scheduled to be late can help you make decisions of where to allocate resources to avoid late delivery. 

How ProShop can help
If you’re ready to make a change, we’re here to help. While you might have been thinking that this blog would  pitch the benefits of ProShop’s scheduling module on its own, it’s really the steps preceding the job’s placement on the schedule that cause most on-time delivery issues. 

Chances are, your problem isn’t a lack of sophisticated job shop scheduling software, and that’s good news! ProShop provides an integrated system for manufacturing operations that allow you to systematically plan and process jobs so that consistent on-time delivery IS possible. 

“ProShop was one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made. We’ve seen huge improvements in places we never expected. We’ve gone from spending 8 hours a day to achieve 50-60% OTD, to less than an hour a day to achieve 95%+ for over an entire year! It’s been a total game changer for us!” – Kody, Coastal Machine

Many ProShop customers like Kody have experienced a dramatic improvement in their on time delivery numbers because they have embraced a better planning and production process. ProShop ERP equips manufacturers with the tools and processes to eliminate the underlying problems that cause late delivery in the first place. In fact, clients on average see about a 25% improvement in their ontime delivery performance after implementing ProShop! Listen to several clients share this fact.

Book a call today so that you also can achieve over 95% on-time delivery and leave the competition in the dust!

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