Blog Post

Consultant’s Corner: Acumatica & Production Schedules

Published on

Dec 9

Troy Vars

What makes production schedules vitally important?

A production schedule is like a guiding roadmap. It helps us meet customer expectations, and it establishes trust in our ability to deliver on our promises. It is crucial in demonstrating our capability and commitment to timely delivery. Internally the production schedule defines the order and coordination of manufacturing steps. 

Executing an operation involves a meticulous coordination of timing, resources, and completion to ensure the seamless progression of dependent tasks. It's a delicate orchestration, where precision and efficiency are paramount for on-time delivery.

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A ”bad” production schedule results in delays, stop and starts and costs both time and money. In some instances, production plans can go “bad” are detailed below.

  1. Inflexible. The production schedule is too rigid and doesn’t allow “penciling in”. Every day, new orders flood into the manufacturing department, requiring an adaptable production schedule that accommodates their integration seamlessly. When looking out weeks or months, it is important to create a schedule. This schedule should be designed to allow for adjustments up until the launch and even afterwards. Flexibility is key in ensuring a successful outcome. This flexibility allows for adaptability and ensures that the schedule remains aligned with changing circumstances.
  2. Oversaturation. The production schedule suffers from a lack of capacity planning. Knowing which resources are needed vs. available are key to being successful. No matter the tool, the success of a scheduler greatly relies on several factors. These factors include considering tooling requirements, machine run usage, headcount/skill levels, and production schedule. It's crucial to take all these aspects into account to ensure efficient scheduling and optimal outcomes. Neglecting these aspects can lead to failure. Considering these factors is essential for a successful scheduling process.
  3. Inventory Strategy. The production schedule doesn’t exist in a vacuum, its reliant on inventory being on-hand when the work starts. Material Resource Planning (MRP) tools should work hand in hand with the production schedule. They should alert the scheduler and/or purchasing to any possible shortcomings in the proposed schedule. This collaboration ensures that potential issues are identified and addressed promptly. 
  4. Instability. The production schedule is suboptimal in terms of limiting peaks and valleys across Work Centers. It also puts excess pressure on the supply chain. To improve this, a more balanced approach is needed to evenly distribute workload and alleviate strain on resources. This leads to sporadic productivity.
  5. Clarity. The schedule tool should have the capability to identify different types of blocks. These include "penciled in" blocks of capacity, "inked in" blocks, available resources, and open jobs that can fill those holes. This functionality enables users to have a clearer understanding of the various blocks and their corresponding characteristics. This allows for easy management of scheduling and resource allocation. In addition it is preferable to know which jobs are Made to Order vs. Made to Stock.

How does Acumatica address Bad Production Schedules?

Acumatica is structured to address the key areas important to make your production schedules efficient and sustainable. 

Forecast market expectations

Acumatica provides tools to forecast demand based on past sales. This can be analyzed both from a Made to Order and Made to Stock perspective. In addition, units can also be supplemented to the demand pool by adding quantities to produce to the Master Production Schedule.

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Figure 1 - Master Production Schedule showing 10 each Widgets being produced Monthly by the 15th

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Figure 2 - Forecast showing Keurig forecasted by past Sales History 

Inventory Control 

Acumatica offers MRP tools that analyze on-hand stock and calculate the supply required to meet the forecasted and actual demand in the production pipeline. These tools help in understanding stock availability and ensuring the right supply to fulfill customer needs. With Acumatica, managing inventory and addressing production demands becomes more streamlined and efficient. 

These powerful tools also help identify items that need to be expedited or delayed based on shifts in the production schedule. Additionally, the production monitoring systems allow for easy cancellation of items when necessary. It will also suggest transfers from other warehouses when stock is available there.

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Figure 3 - MRP showing items to Purchase or Manufacture based on the current Forecast (Sales Order Type) or Production Schedule (MRP Requirement)

Availability of Tools, Machinery and Human Capital

Acumatica has several tools to provide clarity of the workload on each resource, be they Tools, Machines or skilled personnel. Visual tools help to identify open slots, scheduled blocks or firm blocks. Potential Production Orders generated from MRP based on need dates and historical/estimated times from the Bill of Material drive recommendations for placing unscheduled orders of raw materials.

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Figure 4 - Production Schedule Board showing Planned Work compared to available work centers or machines

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Figure 5 - High Level View of work center and scheduled blocks

Production monitoring

Very rarely does everything go to plan. Aca dashboards and widgets empower the Production Manager and scheduling team. They help them prioritize and address's crisis promptly. Additionally, these tools allow them to monitor the long-term impacts on the overall schedule. 

Each widget is created from live data in the system and periodically refreshes to display updates. Widgets are easily moveable by the end user and creating new widgets uses a user-friendly Wizard system. If the data is stored in Acumatica, it can be displayed here.

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Figure 5 - Production Manager dashboard showing various widgets with highlighted focus on Red and Yellow items

These tools will get us 50% of the way to our goal. Partnering with someone that understands manufacturing, best practices for the tool set and wants to understand the needs of the business to tailor these tools to meet those needs will get us to a further 30%. 

CS3 Technology’s ERP team has a combined 50 years’ experience in Manufacturing and another 15 combined years with Acumatica software. Furthermore, our teams are comprised of Six Sigma Black Belts, Lean Manufacturing Experts, and Train the Trainers. This experience helps us to be in the best position to get the production scheduling team that lasts 20% of experience and knowledge to meet 100% Customer Satisfaction.

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