Smart Manufacturing Blog

Supply chain experts, smart manufacturing engineers, data and applications architects, and manufacturing business consultants share best practices for using smart manufacturing and supply chain solutions.

Planning, Scheduling, and OEE: A Mighty (but Untapped) Trio - Part 1

Is your company using overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data for better planning, scheduling, and optimization? Production schedulers are typically masters at applying available information in creative ways. However, some production planners are unsure how best to put OEE data to work in their production scheduling software to improve and optimize the manufacturing production schedule. If your company has an OEE system to record unplanned downtime, micro stops, and other reasons for capacity loss, you have access to a rich source of efficiency data. Every machine, line, and work center using the OEE system can benefit even more from your schedule optimization efforts if you apply the OEE data for a better production schedule. The key is understanding what the OEE data means and how to use it for even better planning, scheduling, and optimization.

This is part one of a two-part series. Check back for part two on May 31.

3 Production Schedule Problems (and how to solve them like a boss)

It's not easy to narrow down the toughest production schedule problems schedulers face. We're hard-pressed to even imagine a "day in the life" guidebook for the manufacturing schedule heroes that balance inputs like materials, resources, inventories, customer service obligations, on-time order commitments, business rules, maintenance needs, and myriad other requirements to tackle complex optimization problems. We do know that there are three particularly difficult — yet common — situations that cause angst for shop floor schedulers that use spreadsheets, a whiteboard, or other manual methods to respond when the unexpected happens in the plant. Companies that arm production schedulers with an advanced planning and scheduling solution can respond and adapt to constantly changing conditions on the shop floor. Manufacturers that rely solely on the ERP system aren't usually equipped to handle events that happen in real time on the shop floor.

OPC UA & MTConnect: Which Data Protocol Better for Smart Manufacturing

As companies continue to prepare for digital transformation, the debate around which data protocol is better for smart manufacturing systems rages on. The need to capture data from HAAS machines and other manufacturing equipment is a critical component because much of the data required for smart manufacturing originates in your company’s machines, robots, processing equipment, and inspection equipment. In some cases, the data resides in a computer on board the equipment; in many cases, the data sits in a proprietary controller. These data sources use a wide variety of protocols. Many standards organizations have attempted to consolidate communication protocols. A few leaders have emerged, but that perhaps has made decisions about how to capture machine data for smart manufacturing even more complex.

How to Handle Unplanned Downtime on the Production Schedule

Your company's production planner might be searching for a better way to handle unplanned downtime on the production schedule. Without the right production planning and scheduling software, dealing with unplanned downtime in manufacturing can be a headache. Yet unplanned downtime happens more often than people think: An unexpected maintenance issue causes a machine to stop working. Material is late or misplaced. A changeover takes longer than anticipated. Perhaps a trained operator is unexpectedly out for the day. Dozens of scenarios like these cause lines to stop. When unplanned downtime happens, everyone is relying on the production planner to make the right adjustments to minimize the impact on customer service commitments, staffing schedules, and operations in general.

Put Communication First for Great Planning & Scheduling in Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies are now looking to planning & scheduling as the next big opportunity to improve operations performance. The number of effective manufacturing planning & scheduling applications on the market today is proof that manufacturers are investing in this critical area of the business. So why are some companies still struggling to make their investment in production planning software and processes pay off? There are many reasons why a planning & scheduling initiative might not deliver expected ROI, but as I recall an incident from early in my career, I’m reminded that effective two-way communication is a critical element for planning & scheduling program success.

Worried About Team Turnover when Implementing Lean in Manufacturing?

Implementing lean in manufacturing is a tough but rewarding endeavor. Companies often report at least some turnover during the process. Is this normal? What (if anything) should managers and lean coaches do as part of the change management process to prevent losing team members?

How to Pick the Best Production Scheduling Software for Manufacturing

If your manufacturing company has decided to invest in shop floor scheduling, it's time to determine what solution is the best production scheduling software for the organization. By this point, the production planner and operations management have probably built a business case for production scheduling software. You’ve engaged corporate executives, quantified the financial impact, and articulated production scheduling software advantages. Now it’s time to figure out which manufacturing scheduling software will align with manufacturing processes, integrate with existing manufacturing and business technology, and empower production planners to solve both common and complex problems.

Smart Factory 101: Which Machine Data is Right for OEE

Data, particularly machine data, is a foundational component of every smart factory or OEE initiative. It fuels analytics, triggers actions ahead of problems or shutdowns, and provides insight for continuous improvement. Many companies start the smart factory journey with an automated OEE system because it’s a natural progression with a set of metrics they’re already familiar with. Despite advances in automated data collection and production analytics, a lot of manufacturing executives are still at odds about exactly which machine data is required to calculate OEE. Unfortunately, a lot of projects get sidetracked early on as stakeholders try to utilize every piece of machine-generated data from the multitude available. A more pragmatic approach is to apply machine data based on priorities around business goals. To that end, capturing the machine data required for OEE is a critical early activity for most smart factory initiatives.

3 Life Lessons to Get Started with Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing

Perhaps the hardest part to get started with continuous improvement is figuring out how and where to start. Change is hard, especially where teams are concerned, and the thought of stumbling at the outset is scary. One continuous improvement (CI) launch in particular comes to mind when I think about the ups and downs of this kind of initiative. Nearly two decades ago when we were first formally launching CI, our team had many conversations that seemed to go in circles. We also received lots of advice — mostly about which tool to embrace first, such as “start with 5S, it’s the foundation.” Why was there so much confusion around something that was to bring clarity to the business? The biggest thing I’ve learned since those early projects is that companies often make things harder than they need to be. But that’s not all I’ve discovered along the way.

Warning: Your Manufacturing ERP Can’t Do it All

Until recently, nearly every company had an expectation that the manufacturing ERP system should be sufficient to run the business. However, despite the name: enterprise resource planning (ERP), most ERP systems rarely cover all processes enterprise-wide. The reality is that software vendors build them to focus on core operations. The planning capability is typically limited to high-level budgeting while providing placeholders for business users to populate estimates from external sources. In this context, perhaps a more fitting name would be financial resource and document tracking (FRDT) system. To become genuinely enterprise-wide and provide robust planning capabilities, most systems require additional modules, customization, special reports, and bolt-on sub-systems. This approach might initially seem odd. However, it’s quite reasonable once you consider the rationale for designing them this way.

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Planning, Scheduling, and OEE: A Mighty (but Untapped) Trio - Part 1

Is your company using overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data for better planning, scheduling, and optimization? Production schedulers are typically masters at applying available information in creative ways. However, some production planners are unsure how best to put OEE data to work in their production scheduling software to improve and optimize the manufacturing production schedule. If your company has an OEE system to record unplanned downtime, micro stops, and other reasons for capacity loss, you have access to a rich source of efficiency data. Every machine, line, and work center using the OEE system can benefit even more from your schedule optimization efforts if you apply the OEE data for a better production schedule. The key is understanding what the OEE data means and how to use it for even better planning, scheduling, and optimization.

This is part one of a two-part series. Check back for part two on May 31.

3 Production Schedule Problems (and how to solve them like a boss)

It's not easy to narrow down the toughest production schedule problems schedulers face. We're hard-pressed to even imagine a "day in the life" guidebook for the manufacturing schedule heroes that balance inputs like materials, resources, inventories, customer service obligations, on-time order commitments, business rules, maintenance needs, and myriad other requirements to tackle complex optimization problems. We do know that there are three particularly difficult — yet common — situations that cause angst for shop floor schedulers that use spreadsheets, a whiteboard, or other manual methods to respond when the unexpected happens in the plant. Companies that arm production schedulers with an advanced planning and scheduling solution can respond and adapt to constantly changing conditions on the shop floor. Manufacturers that rely solely on the ERP system aren't usually equipped to handle events that happen in real time on the shop floor.

OPC UA & MTConnect: Which Data Protocol Better for Smart Manufacturing

As companies continue to prepare for digital transformation, the debate around which data protocol is better for smart manufacturing systems rages on. The need to capture data from HAAS machines and other manufacturing equipment is a critical component because much of the data required for smart manufacturing originates in your company’s machines, robots, processing equipment, and inspection equipment. In some cases, the data resides in a computer on board the equipment; in many cases, the data sits in a proprietary controller. These data sources use a wide variety of protocols. Many standards organizations have attempted to consolidate communication protocols. A few leaders have emerged, but that perhaps has made decisions about how to capture machine data for smart manufacturing even more complex.

How to Handle Unplanned Downtime on the Production Schedule

Your company's production planner might be searching for a better way to handle unplanned downtime on the production schedule. Without the right production planning and scheduling software, dealing with unplanned downtime in manufacturing can be a headache. Yet unplanned downtime happens more often than people think: An unexpected maintenance issue causes a machine to stop working. Material is late or misplaced. A changeover takes longer than anticipated. Perhaps a trained operator is unexpectedly out for the day. Dozens of scenarios like these cause lines to stop. When unplanned downtime happens, everyone is relying on the production planner to make the right adjustments to minimize the impact on customer service commitments, staffing schedules, and operations in general.

Put Communication First for Great Planning & Scheduling in Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies are now looking to planning & scheduling as the next big opportunity to improve operations performance. The number of effective manufacturing planning & scheduling applications on the market today is proof that manufacturers are investing in this critical area of the business. So why are some companies still struggling to make their investment in production planning software and processes pay off? There are many reasons why a planning & scheduling initiative might not deliver expected ROI, but as I recall an incident from early in my career, I’m reminded that effective two-way communication is a critical element for planning & scheduling program success.

Worried About Team Turnover when Implementing Lean in Manufacturing?

Implementing lean in manufacturing is a tough but rewarding endeavor. Companies often report at least some turnover during the process. Is this normal? What (if anything) should managers and lean coaches do as part of the change management process to prevent losing team members?

How to Pick the Best Production Scheduling Software for Manufacturing

If your manufacturing company has decided to invest in shop floor scheduling, it's time to determine what solution is the best production scheduling software for the organization. By this point, the production planner and operations management have probably built a business case for production scheduling software. You’ve engaged corporate executives, quantified the financial impact, and articulated production scheduling software advantages. Now it’s time to figure out which manufacturing scheduling software will align with manufacturing processes, integrate with existing manufacturing and business technology, and empower production planners to solve both common and complex problems.

Smart Factory 101: Which Machine Data is Right for OEE

Data, particularly machine data, is a foundational component of every smart factory or OEE initiative. It fuels analytics, triggers actions ahead of problems or shutdowns, and provides insight for continuous improvement. Many companies start the smart factory journey with an automated OEE system because it’s a natural progression with a set of metrics they’re already familiar with. Despite advances in automated data collection and production analytics, a lot of manufacturing executives are still at odds about exactly which machine data is required to calculate OEE. Unfortunately, a lot of projects get sidetracked early on as stakeholders try to utilize every piece of machine-generated data from the multitude available. A more pragmatic approach is to apply machine data based on priorities around business goals. To that end, capturing the machine data required for OEE is a critical early activity for most smart factory initiatives.

3 Life Lessons to Get Started with Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing

Perhaps the hardest part to get started with continuous improvement is figuring out how and where to start. Change is hard, especially where teams are concerned, and the thought of stumbling at the outset is scary. One continuous improvement (CI) launch in particular comes to mind when I think about the ups and downs of this kind of initiative. Nearly two decades ago when we were first formally launching CI, our team had many conversations that seemed to go in circles. We also received lots of advice — mostly about which tool to embrace first, such as “start with 5S, it’s the foundation.” Why was there so much confusion around something that was to bring clarity to the business? The biggest thing I’ve learned since those early projects is that companies often make things harder than they need to be. But that’s not all I’ve discovered along the way.

Warning: Your Manufacturing ERP Can’t Do it All

Until recently, nearly every company had an expectation that the manufacturing ERP system should be sufficient to run the business. However, despite the name: enterprise resource planning (ERP), most ERP systems rarely cover all processes enterprise-wide. The reality is that software vendors build them to focus on core operations. The planning capability is typically limited to high-level budgeting while providing placeholders for business users to populate estimates from external sources. In this context, perhaps a more fitting name would be financial resource and document tracking (FRDT) system. To become genuinely enterprise-wide and provide robust planning capabilities, most systems require additional modules, customization, special reports, and bolt-on sub-systems. This approach might initially seem odd. However, it’s quite reasonable once you consider the rationale for designing them this way.

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