The manufacturing business is as old as businesses get. Almost everything we use in our daily life is manufactured. As the population of the earth increased, manufacturing became essential. The resulting rise in competition also meant that manufacturers could not afford to make mistakes.
Therefore, manufacturers around the world are looking for reliable production scheduling software in order to automate the process, and be on top of their game. Let’s discuss some of the essential aspects of production scheduling software, which you should know as a manufacturer.
Why Use Production Scheduling Software?
The importance of production scheduling software is beyond question. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”Let us look at the reasons why preparing (in this case production scheduling) is important:
- Time management: In manufacturing, time is money. Production processes will be halted if your workforce is waiting on material you forgot to get or one of the machines is not working. A production scheduling software lets you stay up to date on such things so you can easily overcome such obstacles.
- Consumer satisfaction: The main goal of manufacturing something is to satisfy a customer’s need. By scheduling production, you can ensure that production happens on time and that customers will be supplied with the product when they need it, resulting in their satisfaction.
- Inventory management: When you have figured out what your production rate is and need to deliver, managing the inventory becomes much easier. You know what you need and can update the inventory accordingly.
- Equipment management: As your production detail is already scheduled, you can now look at your equipment and machinery to make sure they can cope with the planning. This helps maintain productivity and keeps you ahead of schedule.
What You Need From A Production Scheduling Software
There are plenty of options in the market to choose from. The first things you must figure out as a manufacturer are your needs. You probably do not need the best tool out there – just the perfect one for you. Let us see how you can evaluate your options:
- Reports: Get a production scheduling tool that offers you reports. As you are opting for a production scheduling tool, and they are expensive, it is important to get reports that help you make strategic decisions.
- Customizable: You can never go wrong with customizable production scheduling tools. Manufacturing standards may change over time and you might need a tool that you can tailor according to changing times.
- Budget: Needless to say, this is the most important point in selecting the right production scheduling tool. How much you spend will determine what you can expect out of a system. Here you might also want to consider the cost of training your employees to use the system that you choose.
The Products We Pick
There are no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a production scheduling software. In fact it is beyond our scope to discuss too many of them. Here, we will only consider some of the popular ones and try to determine a viable option for you. Our list will include:
- E2 Shop by Shoptech
- Visual Planning
The reason Simio is first on our list is Simio has a unique feature that distinguishes it from its competitors. Simio lets you analyze risk in real-time! This means you can assess what you are getting into and make decisions accordingly. They also provide online support during business hours to assist you, and you can avail a free demo to get to figure out if Simio is the right choice for you.
The combined ability lets you simulate your manufacturing risks and scheduling results in a more productive and safe line of business. First, you plan your production in a perfect environment where machines are working, employees are working, and all your materials are up to date; then you jump into the risk analysis feature where all the data you enter will be assessed against risk factors. The list of features considered when determining risk in Simio are quite comprehensive. Some of the most important features are:
- “What if” scenarios
- Automated rescheduling
- Bottleneck optimization
- Material planning
- Quality control
- Employee scheduling
Now, let us look at some of Simio’s advantages.
- Proper scheduling: The risk factor gives you an advantage when you are scheduling future productions. This type of scheduling will let you keep up in the competitive world of manufacturing.
- Savings: As you are simulating all possible scenarios while planning your production, it is easy to spot probable holes in your plan. You will be able to save a lot of money this way, and use it for the betterment of your company.
- Variation: This specific feature offered by Simio helps you stick to your plan and boost profits at the same time.
- Simple: Simio uses an interface which is similar to Microsoft office applications. You do not need to spend money on external training in order to use Simio. All the features are intuitive and easy to use.
Simio’s Case Study
We will now take a look at a case study of a steel tubing manufacturer and how Simio production scheduling software helped them to get their delivery and quality on point.
This particular steel company produces rolled steel tubing for a number of industries. The process includes opening a reel of steel and rerolling it as steel tubing. The company’s main priorities are quality production and timely delivery.
The steel tubing production process is very complex. It is not possible to keep track of everything with regular tools such as spreadsheets and algorithms.
The company struggles to meet their KPI (Key Performance Indicator). They are using Microsoft Excel and SAP reports to manage everything, which makes it virtually impossible for them to synchronize worker schedules, machine availability, employee qualification, material allocation, etc.
In this situation, they turn to Simio in order to help them manage all of the above.
First, you have to provide Simio with the required data. The master scheduler then creates a schedule in less than 10 minutes, and it uses a predictive system to determine any issues that might hamper the manufacturing process.
As the system is very complex, Simio also implemented its simulation system in order to take into account every aspect of the company and run a risk analysis test, a feature which is unique to Simio.
Now, the management expects much more precise, on-time delivery and they are also expecting to capture more of the market share. The scheduler alerts the proper authorities if anything is not in order and the delivery time might be delayed.
As no system is perfect, Simio has drawbacks as well. The most reported issue about Simio is its lack of support for large systems.
The scheduling software struggles to process heavy amounts of data, which has led people to move away from the platform.
Another prominent issue is that Simio does not clarify their pricing on their business website, though you can always request for a quote to know what you are getting into.
Fishbowl is a business automation software targeted to small and midsize companies. Fishbowl Manufacturing (FBM) is one of their core features. “Fishbowl Manufacturing gives small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) the same automation platform that large businesses use, at an affordable price” – a direct quote from Fishbowl’s business website. Fishbowl is an inventory-oriented system, including features such as:
- Asset management
- Work orders
- Part tracking
- Customized reporting
- System integration
- Raw materials management.
Fishbowl also offers online support and training resource videos, tutorials etc. It doesn’t matter if you have a small manufacturing facility or a large one, the Fishbowl production scheduling software can work for you either way. Here are some of the advantages of using Fishbowl production scheduling software:
- Automation: One of the key functions of Fishbowl manufacturing software is it doesn’t just schedule manufacturing details, it also automates them. You can automatically process orders, material bills, quotes etc. and save yourself the hassle.
- Integration: Fishbowl can integrate with powerful accounting tools like QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online, and Xero. (To find out more about QuickBooks, follow this link. Inventory management and product manufacturing are key aspects of a production business – as is accounting. Seamless integration with QuickBooks and Xero is therefore a big advantage of using the Fishbowl. The software also offers integration with numerous partners around the world including top-rated e-commerce sites.
- Multiple locations: Fishbowl’s inventory system can track parts at multiple locations. If your company has more than one warehouse and you need to keep track of all of them, Fishbowl can be your go-to
- Production stages: Whatever you are manufacturing, it is obvious that the process is done in more than one cycle. Fishbowl allows you to create multi-level work stages so you can track individual batches of products and keep track of the progress in real time.
- Multi-currency: This is a huge step forward in the manufacturing business. If you are a manufacturer who ships products overseas and uses online payment methods, this feature is going to be a lifesaver. You can receive bills in any currency and convert them to your local units for accurate tax reports.
Although Fishbowl provides an amazing software targeted towards manufacturers and distributors, it has some disadvantages as well.
The first issue is customer support. Depending on the time zone you are in, customer support may vary, and it can be a long wait. Moreover, some users have reported that Fishbowl manufacturing is hard to get used to and the learning curve is quite steep.
Fishbowl, like Simio, also doesn’t include any pricing details on their website as their pricing is dynamic according to your business needs. You can, however, opt for the 14-day free trial to see if Fishbowl is suitable for you and then request a quote.
Let us look at one of Fishbowl’s case studies on Pacific Valley Dairy to analyze how they can help you with their production scheduling software.
Pacific Valley Dairy is an ice cream manufacturer and distributor in Pacific, Missouri. Their goal is to make the summer bearable for their customers with a variety of ice cream flavours.
Their inventory therefore consists of things such as ice cream, cones, toppings, and other necessary materials required to run a successful ice cream parlor. With everything included in the inventory however, you can imagine how it might be difficult to keep them in order.
Pacific Valley Dairy has over 400 outlets across the Midwest and down to as far south as Florida. It is hard for the manufacturer to keep track of all the raw materials, finished products, deliveries, inventory, and distribution.
They needed a production scheduling software to integrate with QuickBooks to make smoother business transitions.
The accounting manager of Pacific Valley Dairy, Randy Schiefer stated, “When we acquired the business, QuickBooks was already there. At first, everyone thought it would be enough, but as it turned out, when we started getting into the operations of the business, it wasn’t. We needed something stronger that would integrate well with QuickBooks.” They asked Fishbowl to take control of the production scheduling and inventory management.
Fishbowl took care of raw materials, production, finished goods, distribution, and sales. Schiefer further said, “Fishbowl pretty much runs our whole business. You cannot spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new system. A small company like ours can get Fishbowl to do a lot of important stuff for us.”
Pacific Valley Dairy uses a lot of different raw materials to produce ice creams. With the Fishbowl production scheduling software, they are able to create separate categories for their raw materials which makes it easier to keep track of them. Schiefer explained,
“On the production end, we have a list of raw ingredients and a bill of materials in Fishbowl Manufacturing for each different ice cream mix we produce. On each production date, we create a work order for each batch we are producing,” said Schiefer. “The raw ingredients are tracked and released to production, and when completed, the finished mixed product is added to the inventory as a finished good. Fishbowl keeps track of everything for us. It actually works real slick.”
With Fishbowl manufacturing taking care of everything manufacturing from start to finish, Pacific Valley Dairy could focus on managing their business more efficiently, which would not have been possible with QuickBooks alone.
E2 Manufacturing System
E2 Manufacturing System or E2 MFG for short, is the complete product scheduling solution for modern manufacturers developed by Shoptech Corporation. This is a powerful product scheduling software for different sizes of manufacturers. E2 MFG is easy to use and offers every feature you can think of as a manufacturer. Their features are listed below:
- Estimating & quoting
- Orders & processing
- Inventory & purchasing
- Data collection time & attendance
- Quality control
- Job costing and job tracking
- Complete accounting
These features are simple to use in E2 MFG and very handy for manufacturers around the world. Let us dive deep into the benefits of each feature.
- Estimating & quoting: The days of manual estimates have long since seen their demise. This is a competitive era of business, and you need more time improving your services rather than creating estimates. E2 provides a wide range of data collection modules to create accurate and fast estimates and quotes to keep you ahead in the manufacturing game. All you need to do is select the proper module and input the data, and your estimate will be ready within moments.
- Orders & processing: Sales orders are the first step in manufacturing. Proper and accurate sales orders are essential to your process. With the help of the business forecast, you know what is going on in your business and you can stay on top of production. You also have flexibility in order processing as customer demands might change at any time. This helps in your long and short-term production plan.
- Inventory and purchasing: Purchasing the right materials in the right amount is a very tricky part of the manufacturing business. You can never predict if your materials will go to waste or fall short of the demand. The E2 MFG can’t predict the future, but it can do the next best thing- keep you updated in real-time. You are therefore constantly up to date on your inventory and will be able to know how much you have and exactly when you need more.
- Scheduling: Scheduling the manufacturing process in the right way is crucial for efficiency – minimizing downtime and ensuring on-time E2 provides great scheduling, giving you a 360 degree view of what you are getting into. You can avoid bottlenecks, employee downtime, sudden machine failure etc. if you know exactly what is going on in your business. E2 scheduling is the right tool to anticipate risks and plan accordingly.
- Data collection time & attendance: E2 offers a data collection module that collects data from your finances and materials in real time. You can minimize all the guesswork and let E2 handle everything. The software also helps you make rational decisions by alerting you if you have underquoted a job or if it is not profitable.
- Quality control: Manufacturing a lot of products on time will mean nothing if the quality of the product is anything less than satisfactory. E2 MFG makes sure all your processes are in flow, minimizing any defects. Unplanned production is the key reason behind low-quality products, and with E2’s robust quality control features, you are in the driving seat of your business, equipped with the complete know-how of your business.
- Job costing & job tracking: To make a profit, it is essential that you know your costs. You can anticipate the cost of raw material and employee wages, but you never know what might go wrong. E2 MFG has a great feature called Job Costing and Job Tracking, where you can observe the amount of raw material used, employee work hours and other bills in your business. As a result, you can take timely decisions to avoid any loss.
- Shipping: An efficient automated shipping process like E2 is essential to maintaining good relationships with customers. E2 automated shipping system eliminates any manual labor in the shipping process, and takes the products to their designated locations as quickly as possible.
- Complete accounting: You have done everything correctly and shipped the products. Now, you need to calculate your profit and invoice customers in order to get paid. E2 offers a complete accounting solution that you can integrate with your manufacturing business to avoid double entries and easily keep track of your finances. Accounting can be a tricky job if not assigned to the right person. The E2 accounting solution does the lion’s share of the work for you, and updates itself as your products are flowing through the manufacturing line. You therefore have everything in place, and know where your money coming and going.
One thing that comes as a disadvantage to a lot of manufacturers is, extra modules cost a lot of money. Though the extra money can be worth the great features you get. E2 MFG might not be a perfect fit for every business out there, and manufacturers must work their way around.
They do not publish the pricing details on their website, but you can always use the free demo to check the functionality and request for a quote.
E2 MFG by Shoptech has helped numerous manufacturing companies in achieving their goals and made their lives easier. We will look at the X-Mil Inc. case and see how E2 has helped them manage a profitable business.
X-Mil Inc. is a manufacturing company which started in 1998. They are a low volume job shop where they manufacture products according to customer specifications. Customers send their blueprints and they design it from scratch.
The main problems X-Mil Inc. faced was tracking their costs. They previously used QuickBooks which helped them fine with the finances but the ability to track job costs and routing was absent.
Another big problem was the backup data. The quality manager of X-Mil Inc., Erica Carpenter, had to backup data everyday into a flash drive. One night she forgot to backup the data and she had to drive to the factory at 2 a.m. in the morning and later come to work at 6, just a few hours later.
The idea of switching to the cloud was also scary as they were concerned with security. They consulted production scheduling services but the costs were too high for them to be able to afford them. Then they switched to E2 Manufacturing System.
Erica can now work from home. All their backup is in a dedicated server when they do not have to think about security. The software itself gives them every single detail they need on any job.
Erica has created a custom job schedule to keep things smooth and she can work from anywhere with all her settings intact. She said, “We go to the lake every single weekend, and I can be on the boat doing whatever I need to do with E2 on my laptop, and the kids can be swimming in the lake having fun.
I can see them and I’m there.” She also admits the company is saving a lot of money in IT and E2 is really easy to use and user-friendly. Another great thing about E2 is you do not need to buy a ton of equipment to run the software, a simple smartphone can do the job. Now, the company always opts for the latest version of the E2 MFG.
Visual Planning is an excellent tool for manufacturers. Visual Planning significantly reduces the number of errors in scheduling and results in more efficient and on-time production. Visual Planning production scheduling software offers a few key features for manufacturers which are:
For Production Manager
- Centralization of work orders
- Crew management
- Machine management
- Template based scheduling
- Inventory management
- Risk analysis
- System integrations
For the shop floor
- Real-time monitoring
Now, let us look at the main benefits of using Visual Planning as your production scheduling software.
- Efficient crew distribution: Assigning jobs to the right crew is essential in the production It maximizes efficiency and reduces downtime. Visual Planning offers crew management features in the production scheduling software to make sure all the right people with proper skills are assigned the right jobs.
- Easy inventory management: The built-in inventory management system in Visual Planning production scheduling software is a great way to keep track of every manufacturing materials and to manage suppliers as well.
- Risk analysis: The proper authority will be notified if any defects occur or if the production process is delayed for any reason. This will help in taking the right decision at the right time to minimize loss and manage customer relationships as well.
- Integration: Visual Planning easily integrates with ERP, CRM, billing software, and HR systems to ensure maximum output from each platform and avoid double entries.
- Mobility: All the features in Visual Planning production scheduling software are accessible from any device, from anywhere. You can access all the employee worksheets and schedules as you casually take a walk through the factory.
As far as disadvantages go, Visual Planning takes quite some time to set up properly, and all the templates must be updated to smooth out the process. Moreover, the software might lag if large and complex calculations are being made at the same time.
Visual Planning offers a free trial period for you to test out. The regular price of the package is $55.00/Month/User, which is worth it considering the ease of use and user-friendliness.
Let us take look at the case study of an electricity production company and how they achieved efficiency using Visual Planning.
EDF is the world’s leader in electricity production and employs more than 150,000 people. They produce electricity using nuclear power, thermal, hydroelectric and other renewable sources. Everyday millions of people use EDF’s products. Their goal is to provide the customers with a reliable and efficient power supply accompanied by unbeatable customer service.
The head of a training team in EDF, Mr. Tortes was looking for a production scheduling software that will help him to manage the jobs of 15 people. The goal was to schedule everything properly and ensure maximum efficiency among the workers.
When he found out about Visual Planning through a specialized newspaper, he asked for a demo immediately. After a brief period of various tests, he ordered a version to be installed on their internal servers.
The main feature that he liked was the ability to share information on different platforms as well as with different people- trainers, project managers, those responsible for managing customer requests, and also the assistants who manage different stages of a project. Then they performed an internal audit and decided to use Visual Planning across the entire business.
According to Mr. Tortes, Visual Planning allows them to schedule every stakeholder in the process. From monitor employee absence to forecasting production in any chosen unit, Visual Planning has made everything easier. They also use Visual Planning for projects like outgoing call management, support operations, etc. because it is so user-friendly.
We discussed 4 of the leading production scheduling software available in the market. But our discussion is not over yet. The best tool for any manufacturer is yet to come.
We are Syncoria, and we are a Toronto based digital transformation expert with over 100 years of combined experience. We are providing customers with customized business tools to help them grow and maintain their business. Odoo is one of our ready partners. Odoo offers every single tool you, as a businessperson, can possibly think of. Production scheduling software is no different.
Odoo provides state of the art MRP (Materials Requirements Planning) software for all kinds of manufacturers. The production scheduling software includes maintenance, Product Life-cycle Management (PLM), and quality. “A modern solution to an old problem” is a direct quote from Odoo business software. “Manufacturing Reinvented,” as they like to call it. Odoo’s list of features is extensive and consists of:
- Schedule and plan
- Flexible master data
- Workcenter control panel
Let us dig deep into each of these features and their advantages.
- Managing: Managing your products in the assembly line is crucial in the manufacturing Odoo’s manufacturing orders allow you to do that. You can start production on time and efficiently depending on the work orders. You can create a separate repair order to manage products that are under warranty.
- Schedule and plan: You can plan your manufacturing before starting production with the help of the work order management feature from Odoo. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”You can now have a clear view of your planning and reschedule your manufacturing accordingly. You can keep track of product availability and predict production time in advance.
- Flexible master data: You can create multi-level bills of materials in order to manufacture products. Product specifications can be changed as your product may evolve over time. You can also have the optional routing feature to sequence your production according to the routes used.
- PLM: You can easily find the difference between versions to track the changes with a great process called Kanban. You can track versions of products and ECO’s as well as their respective documents. Different ECO’s corresponding to the same BoM can be merged as well. You can also store plans and worksheets directly on bills of materials and routings.
- Quality: The control points will automatically trigger quality checks inside the manufacturing department. You will get alerted immediately when a manufacturing defect occurs.
- Maintenance: You can trigger maintenance requests automatically depending on KPIs with the preventative maintenance feature. Maintenance operations can therefore be scheduled in advance. You will also receive a computed report on maintenance for yourself.
- Workcenter control panel: You can set tabs on every work center to manage their work more efficiently. You can register products by their lot and serial numbers. You can display worksheets directly on the work center to provide instructions for the operator.
Odoo’s MRP package starts from only $16.00/Month. You can contact Odoo for your customized package and you are always welcome to the use the free demo to get to know Odoo better.
Syncoria has been providing business solutions for over 14 years. Odoo has over 3 million users worldwide. Let’s look at one of Odoo’s case studies to determine why they are the best.
Alta Motors, a California based electric motorcycle manufacturer was built by four people. Now they have 50 employees and a very competitive line of products to compete against the best in the automotive industry. The company was built in 2010 and it has grown rapidly over the years and has become a leading electric motorcycle manufacturer. Alta’s design approach is solely based on customer needs, values and wants.
As the company was growing fast, the owners thought it was time to take the business to the next stage. They were dealing with thousands of PO’s, 500 parts and 2 models of motorcycles. They were looking for a complete system that would update them on production progress, availability of inventory items, as well as manage operations. They were facing issues in these sectors and needed a way to get things back where they were, and needed a system that they could start using as soon as possible. Odoo was ready to deliver.
The owners of Alta liked the way Odoo blended with their core value and how easy it was to use. They also liked the idea that they could customize the functionalities as they need. The best thing about Odoo according to them was that they only needed 2 people to handle the ERP and MRP systems.
Even with a complex network of 37 users, it was really simple and easy to use. Odoo helped Alta manage their nationwide distribution and production efficiently. It only took three months for them to be completely dependent on Odoo as the system is really intuitive.
Alta Motors is very happy with a system like Odoo in their possession that allows them to draw any feature and function they want at any time. They can build exactly what they need, and only what they need without wasting resources.
Odoo has helped them achieve the goal of becoming a worldwide seller from a nationwide seller. One of the reasons they chose Odoo was because they needed a system that could adapt to the different growth phases in their business.
Alta Motors has the confidence that their business will grow further in the future and Odoo will grow with them as well.
Syncoria is your one-stop solution in any sort of business tool related problems. Odoo is better than anyother existing system in the market as it gives you the full independence to create your custom business tool. Feel free to consult with us anytime you want. We are always happy to help in growing your business.