capacity scheduling supply chain talk

Creating a robust scheduling process that adheres to the overall S&OP plan is essential to reducing inventory costs and excess waste. In this week’s, Supply Chain Talk, Arkieva CEO Harpal Singh, outlines four effective strategies for creating a robust scheduling process.

The goal with Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is to ensure that tactical plans are efficient and effective. The S&OP process should optimize supply chain costs. To support the S&OP process, the schedule must adhere to the S&OP guidelines. This means it should adapt to the day to day changes without becoming inconsistent with the overall plan.

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The Challenge with Capacity Scheduling

Creating a robust schedule is easy if we are willing to insulate the changes with piles of inventory. But in today’s environment, this is not acceptable.

Robustness and adaptability are intimately related. The first task in creating a robust environment is to make sure that the shop floor has adopted and honed the best practices associated with good industrial engineering. Meaning the principles of “lean” have been applied; wasted steps have been eliminated and so forth.

Given that, manufacturing assets are as adaptable as we can make them, how do we create a schedule that can absorb changes?  Here are four basic things that have had demonstrated success.

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4 Effective Strategies for Creating a Robust Capacity Scheduling Process

  1. Use a realistic capacity in the S&OP process

In the process industry, capacity is an important factor in the mix of products being made. Most S&OP processes fail to take this into account. The first step towards creating a robust schedule is to ensure that capacity is properly reflected so that capacity buffers can be intelligently placed on the assets.

  1. Use Software that is designed for Rescheduling Instead of New Schedules

Most commercial scheduling software is designed to create entirely new schedules rather than modify an existing schedule in response to a change. In the real-world, this is exactly the wrong thing to do because a complete regeneration of the schedule will most likely end up with an execution plan that is drastically different from the agreed S&OP plan. Software which incorporates search techniques and allows the user to limit changes is more suitable.

[Related: Supply Chain Talk: The Secret to Standardization – Imagine Wearing a Standard Shoe Design on Both Feet ]
  1. Classify demand and spread critical demand among different machines

Not all demand is the same. In fact, the standard classification of demand into forecast and orders is usually inadequate. Some forecasts are more reliable than others; orders may be on credit hold, you may be a sole supplier for some products, orders may need to meet a ship date, and orders may need to fulfill replenishments at a warehouse, and so on.  Not only must the software be able to include and exclude demand easily, but it must also be capable of dynamically pegging each production to the final demand. This capability allows the scheduler to quickly evaluate the impact of shortening or delaying a production run.

  1. Integrate the order acceptance process with scheduling

Time and again, we come across situations where information only flows one way, from order acceptance to scheduling. When there are manufacturing upsets, the order acceptance process continues undisturbed. Inventory can be replaced by suitable information provided to the order taking process. The key is that the information needs to be suitably presented. For example, if a particular machine or asset is getting critical, then the order acceptance for the products that can only be made on the machine needs to be slowed. Normally this is done by setting availability guidelines by product category.

Have a supply chain topic that you would like us to discuss? Join the Arkieva Supply Chain Talk with Arkieva CEO Harpal Singh. Add a comment below or send a tweet to @Arkieva with #ArkievaSCT, or email

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