Scheduling the Production and Operation Management

Scheduling can be defined as “prescribing of when and where each operation necessary to manufacture the product is to be performed.”

It is also defined as “establishing of times at which to begin and complete each event or operation comprising a procedure”. The principle aim of scheduling is to plan the sequence of work so that production can be systematically arranged towards the end of completion of all products by due date.

1. Principles of Scheduling

  1. The principle of optimum task size: Scheduling tends to achieve maximum efficiency when the task sizes are small, and all tasks of same order of magnitude.
  2. Principle of optimum production plan: The planning should be such that it imposes an equal load on all plants.
  3. Principle of optimum sequence: Scheduling tends to achieve the maximum efficiency when the work is planned so that work hours are normally used in the same sequence.

2. Inputs to Scheduling

  • Performance standards: The information regarding the performance standards (standard times for operations) helps to know the capacity in order to assign required machine hours to the facility.
  1. Units in which loading and scheduling is to be expressed.
  2. Effective capacity of the work centre.
  3. Demand pattern and extent of flexibility to be provided for rush orders.
  4. Overlapping of operations.
  5. Individual job schedules.

3. Scheduling Strategies

Scheduling strategies vary widely among firms and range from ‘no scheduling’ to very sophisticated approaches.

These strategies are grouped into four classes:

  1. Detailed scheduling: Detailed scheduling for specific jobs that are arrived from customers is impracticable in actual manufacturing situation. Changes in orders, equipment breakdown, and unforeseen events deviate the plans.
  2. Cumulative scheduling: Cumulative scheduling of total work load is useful especially for long range planning of capacity needs. This may load the current period excessively and under load future periods. It has some means to control the jobs.
  3. Cumulative detailed: Cumulative detailed combination is both feasible and practical approach. If master schedule has fixed and flexible portions.
  4. Priority decision rules: Priority decision rules are scheduling guides that are used independently and in conjunction with one of the above strategies, e, first come first serve. These are useful in reducing Work-In-Process (WIP) inventory.

4. Types of Scheduling

Types of scheduling can be categorized as forward scheduling and backward scheduling.

  1. Forward scheduling is commonly used in job shops where customers place their orders on “needed as soon as possible” basis. Forward scheduling determines start and finish times of next priority job by assigning it the earliest available time slot and from that time, determines when the job will be finished in that work centre. Since the job and its components start as early as possible, they will typically be completed before they are due at the subsequent work centres in the routing. The forward method generates in the process inventory that are needed at subsequent work centres and higher inventory cost. Forward scheduling is simple to use and it gets jobs done in shorter lead times, compared to backward scheduling.
  2. Backward scheduling is often used in assembly type industries and commit in advance to specific delivery dates. Backward scheduling determines the start and finish times for waiting jobs by assigning them to the latest available time slot that will enable each job to be completed just when it is due, but done before. By assigning jobs as late as possible, backward scheduling minimizes inventories since a job is not completed until it must go directly to the next work centre on its routing. Forward and backward scheduling methods are shown in Fig. 5.7.

Source: KumarAnil, Suresh N. (2009), Production and operations management, New Age International Pvt Ltd; 2nd Ed. edition.

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