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Manufacturing Job Shop Scheduling Templates RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am looking for a template to use to schedule our job shop.  We currently use Excel and want to switch to MS Project 2010.  We remanufacture locomotives and each one is a project of its own.  We have limited resources and work on 15-20 projects at a time in the shop.  We are looking to handle change orders and material requirements at the same time.  Does anyone have a template that I can start from?
    Thursday, March 8, 2012 9:22 PM

Answers

  • Hi,

    However positive I may have been in my previous post, I do owe you a warning. As fpr materials, Project, through scheduling the tasks that use the materials, will show you the need for them, the planned usage - a valuable input for the ERP system. But Project itself cannot calculate availability nor stock figures (except by VBA programming, and even then not timescaled availability).

    Hope this helps,

    • Marked as answer by DBLOCO Friday, March 9, 2012 2:47 PM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 2:38 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hello,

    I am not sure that finding a template for locomotive remanufacturing would be possible, unless you know of another company that does this type of work and obtain theirs.  In my opinion, planning one project out to its completion and creating a project file from that planning effort would suffice for future projects.  "Handling change orders" is not something that Project does well, but with some advanced file work with custom fields, tables and some fancy use of the multiple baselines feature, you can track changes.  Project will handle tracking materials, depending on your level of detail in your planning.

    I recommend obtaining the services of a qualified/reputable project management consultant that can help with the "whole picture."


    Gregg D. Richie, PMP, MCTS; Author, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Official Academic Course Series

    • Proposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Friday, March 9, 2012 11:46 AM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 5:25 AM
  • Hi,

    Although indeed, a template would be hard to come by, I can only confirm that using MS Project for this kind of projects is very feasible and will not require too much customization. It know is successfully used in a maintenance shop of the Belgian railroad company (and they did not even require the services o this consultant :-) and in an aircraft maintenance shop.

    Greetings,

    • Proposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Friday, March 9, 2012 2:15 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Thursday, October 11, 2012 6:54 AM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 1:00 PM
    Moderator
  • Building the project WBS is not an issue.  I am trying to manage the material resources through the resource sheet so that we can see current availability and location stored.  I am sure this is going to take some integration with our ERP system (Microsoft Dynamics GP).  I will not be responsible for that.  Your comments on the Change Orders is valuable to me and I will have to figure that out.  The template I am seeking would be more general in definition and may address some of the material issues and possibly the change order situation.  I do not expect it to be locomotive specific at all.  Thanks for the help.

    Dean Buchman

    • Proposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Friday, March 9, 2012 4:03 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Thursday, October 11, 2012 6:54 AM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 2:25 PM
  • As I mentioned earlier, the template does not need to be specific to Locomotives, but to the job Shop environment.  My two main concerns are being able to track inventory within the projectwithout having to list it as a task and rather control it through the Resource Sheet.  The other concern is how to track change orders.  If that process becomes too combersome, then it will not help us at all.  We are currently using Excel spreadsheets and it involves a considerable amount of data input to keep it up to date.  Our company is pro Microsoft products, so we use Microsoft Dynamics GP as an ERP system and now we want to manage the shop projects using MS Project 2010 and eventually have it all working through Project Server linking our material handling, accounting, time keeping, project management, and production scheduling.  all using MS products.  My piece is to roll out the project management template and identify the inputs and outputs from the template.  Unfortunately, our company will not hire a consultant and expects that this has been done somewhere else in a similar situation and that we can learn from their experience.  I am not so convinced after all of my research.  Thanks for your help.   

    Dean Buchman

    • Proposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Friday, March 9, 2012 4:03 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Ismet Kocaman Thursday, October 11, 2012 6:54 AM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 2:37 PM
  • Hi,

    However positive I may have been in my previous post, I do owe you a warning. As fpr materials, Project, through scheduling the tasks that use the materials, will show you the need for them, the planned usage - a valuable input for the ERP system. But Project itself cannot calculate availability nor stock figures (except by VBA programming, and even then not timescaled availability).

    Hope this helps,

    • Marked as answer by DBLOCO Friday, March 9, 2012 2:47 PM
    Friday, March 9, 2012 2:38 PM
    Moderator
  • Have you ever got your hands on a template? I am also searching for a MS Projects or Excel solution for a job shop environment. My company is an OEM for heavy equipment used in the forest products processing industry. I am looking for a simple and effective job/project planning solution we could utilize. From reading your posts, it doesn't look to be readily available. :-(
    Thursday, September 13, 2012 10:29 PM
  • Hi,

    For several customers I made templates for each type of job but i fail to see how that can be relevant to other job shops (making moulds for plastics production is way different from producing large, special-formed steel or alumin parts). Each time I needed specific input from the customer - how is the materials flow through tthe shop, which machining operation comes first, which machines are often overloaded, etc.

    Greetings,

    Friday, September 14, 2012 7:16 AM
    Moderator
  • One of my first jobs at this planning business was with a workshop doing locomotive refurbishment, which included stripping down every system (main diesel, alternators, batteries, hydraulics, pneumatics etc). They had a contract to strip and re-build 40 locos for $200K each and the duration for each was supposed to be 30 days from the time the loco rolled into the shop until it was pushed out the other end. By the time they called me they had done 8 out of 40 and lost money on all of them. Also, they had all been way longer than originally promised. They had plenty of subject matter expertise (SME), what with engineers, technicians, fitters, electricians etc, all with lots of loco experience. They had more or less assumed that their SME was sufficient but it turned out that they did not have much in the way of planning skills or progress tracking skills and certainly had no skill in the use of MSP. When I sat down with them to extract the information to build a plan, it turned out that they were not quite as sure as they thought they were about the tasks, durations and the sequence as defined by the predecessors and successors. So they did not really know how fast each one could be done (even though they had signed a contract in which they had promised to get them in and out in 30 days). It took some weeks to get a plan sorted out and eventually the locos started to move through the shop in a reasonable duration and eventually the locos all got refurbished. But a lot of damage was done to their reputation (if they had ever had one) and the company did not make any money out of it. Should have had a plan before they started and before they made promises they could not keep.
    Friday, September 14, 2012 10:37 AM
  • Trevor,

    Thank you for sharing a real life experience. Would you mind if I make some comments on your real life case ? I believe it is a management problem but not a problem related to lack of PM skills of SMEs since jobshop management is not SME's job.  

    I guess the original poster (dbloco) has another discussion here at (yes, I googled): http://erp.ittoolbox.com/groups/vendor-selection/erp-select/job-shop-application-of-ms-project-4678742

    I like some of the responses so I've decided to share the link. 

    Regards. 

    Friday, September 14, 2012 11:10 AM
  • Hi Trevor,

    Thank you very, very much. For years now I've defended the point that for workshop scheduling MS Project is weel and duly a good solution, at least if managing the materials is not part of the critical problem.

    I also looked up the link Project User provided. Interesting, but again it published the myth that "there are many top-of-the bill other softwares around specifically aimed at production". I've been reading that statement for a decade now and never discovered one that did the actual scheduling (which is why Dynamics recommends Project for the scheduling bit). Yes they are superior in materials management but most of all in production cost management - ignoring scheduling.

    Again, thanks, it's nice to find out I'm not alone in this.

    BTW, the largest train maintainer and repairer of the Belgian railroads have developped a VBA solution around MS Project to cover their full planning and tracking needs.

    Greetings,


    Friday, September 14, 2012 12:10 PM
    Moderator
  • I also looked up the link Project User provided. Interesting, but again it published the myth that "there are many top-of-the bill other software around specifically aimed at production". I've been reading that statement for a decade now and never discovered one that did the actual scheduling (which is why Dynamics recommends Project for the scheduling bit). 


    Jan, there are several best-of-breed scheduling tools which are designed and developed specifically for job shop production. Such tools do not require laborious creation of a separate template for every type of job shops. You would  discover them ONLY if you have an open mind. Please do Google search for them, ask for their users and find the truth from the users.

    Saturday, September 15, 2012 1:40 PM
  • Jan,

    I'm with you.

    At that link, did you read this: "Experts on MS Project recommend manual resource leveling which is very laborious and time consuming in production environment because frequent rescheduling is necessary due to the occurrence of many unexpected changes in the system."

    I don't presume to call myself an expert, but I would like to meet anyone who is claimed to be one who recommends "manual leveling", which I consider to be strictly for the amateurs and beginners.

    I never recommend such a thing because:

    a) it doesn't work.

    b) there is already built in leveling functionality in MSP which does work.

    I believe that what is called "manual leveling" is one of or a combination of these:

    1) linking tasks as predecessor/successor even though they are not really predecessor/successor, just to delay one of the tasks

    2) imposing date constraints

    3) changing the leveling delay by typing in the numbers in this field

    Whichever, they are all three just so wrong in so many ways I hardly know where to start. I have noted a number of conversations lately (on line and around the local university and with a client) where this approach seems to be advocated or even encouraged, and it seems to be a fairly popular notion that it is viable approach, so I am taking a stand against it wherever it appears.

    Monday, September 17, 2012 7:22 AM
  • Hi Trevor,

    You are 100% right. Leveling works whenever you use it the right way - and job shop applications are perfectly fit for it as in that case you will never use percentages in assignment units (you don't use 34% of a machine for an operation :-) and whenever I can I join you in your stand in against manual leveling. Even at least one of the MVPs claims it is the best solution.

    Moreover, these advocates recommend leveling "one resource at the time" which simply doesn't work at all since leveling a second resource may create overallocations on one you already leveled!

    As for my remark on specific software not doing sheduling, I have to humbly admit Google indeed shows several programs in the ERP area that do scheduling as well. To my defense, I never met a user for one of these (Belgium is a small country) and the 2 that are nearly universally used - SAP and Dynamics - don't contain scheduling.

    Still, I do have to react on the following statement in PlanOpt's post:

    "Such tools do not require laborious creation of a separate template for every type of job shops"

    Well, neither does Project. When you want to schedule manufacturing tasks, you need data about the tasks and data about the resources - whatever the software. A template is indeed not necessary.

    Greetings,


    Monday, September 17, 2012 8:36 AM
    Moderator
  • Jan, I share your criticism of scheduling strength of ERP systems for job shop production. I repeatedly criticized it on ERP forums over years without any objection from the forum members. However, I am referring to best-of-breed job shop scheduling tools in this thread. Please do Google search with the search string  "production scheduling" or "job shop scheduling" and avoid the links belonging to ERP vendors. From scheduling point of view, production systems have many types of important constraints in addition to task precedence relations and temporal constraints on task start and finish times. Please do not assume that such systems are uncommon. The best-of-breed tools can automatically address those constraints while scheduling tasks.

    Trevor, for years, I have been seeing some Project trainers / experts discouraging the use of "automatic resource leveling". As long as users are unable to practically take advantage of the automatic leveling feature of Project for any reason, they will either depend on the laborious manual leveling or look for a better scheduling tool in the market. Who gets the blame when the users fail to have meaningful automatic leveling in Project?

    If MS Project is indeed found to be very effective for job shop scheduling, then it can certainly eliminate from market the expensive, best-of-breed  scheduling tools. I do not believe either of you have ever seen a best-of-breed job shop scheduling tool in action.

    Monday, September 17, 2012 8:17 PM
  • Trevor,

    Certainly the automatic leveling in Project 'works' but only if the definition of works is "creates a schedule with no overallocations" and pays no attention to a solution that will actually work in a real project. Sure you can hit "Level Now" and get a schedule with no overallocations. That is not the problem. The problem is that this generally means creating a schedule whose finish date is way too far past the limits of what is acceptable since all the "Level Now" button does is add leveling delay.

    "Manual Leveling" as I practice it is more about finding other ways to schedule the tasks in an effort to level the workloads AND keep the dates in line to the extent that it is possible. This involves a combination of getting more resources (or more of time from my existing resources) and reassigning work, delaying some tasks (via leveling delay), re-evaluating the relationships between tasks, etc. Sometimes it is about having other projects happen sooner or later as well.

    Im not a fan of using predecessor\successor logic to 'level' projects but I have seen it done and as long as the PM doing it keeps a record of the links that are 'real' and those that are for leveling then it can work. It's not optimal but in the grand scheme I would rather see a PM do that then abandon the schedule completely because they did not know how to do it any other way.

    Im not sure why you would take a stand against entering leveling delay as a method of leveling since not only is that what it is for, it is EXACTLY what the "Level now" button does for you. On a complex schedule I will tend to do it at the assignment level and not the task level but the impact is the same.

    Im also not clear on why you would characterize those that choose to have a greater degree of control over their schedules as amateurs or beginners. I feel it takes a greater level of scheduling sophistication to deal dynamically with overallocation problems than just hitting Level now.


    Brian Kennemer - Project MVP
    DeltaBahn Senior Architect
    endlessly obsessing about Project Server…so that you don’t have to.
    Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn

    Monday, September 17, 2012 11:22 PM
    Moderator
  • Brian,

    OK, I withdraw my comment about the characterisation, in the interests of peaceful and hopefully productive discussion.

    However, the practice of manual leveling is horrifying to me. Those who want to do it can do it, and as long as I am not associated with those projects then it's ok with me.

    Leveling does more than simply extend the duration of the project. It shows which tasks get delayed and by how much, so it reveals which tasks need the most attention paid to the resource assignments. If you just hit the Level All button without any attention to the option settings and priorities etc, then sure, you get whatever result the engine spits out and it is almost always unacceptable overall delay. However, it is a starting point that you can start working from. What each different planner does from this starting point is determined by what strategy is adopted, and they are not all equally good.

    If a PM doesn't know any other way to resolve resource over-allocation than linking tasks as predecessors even when they are not really predecessors, then perhaps he should find someone who does. Once the plan is full of "real" predecessor links and the other kind, there is no way to tell which is which or why they are there.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:18 AM
  • Brian,

    OK, I withdraw my comment about the characterisation, in the interests of peaceful and hopefully productive discussion.

    However, the practice of manual leveling is horrifying to me. Those who want to do it can do it, and as long as I am not associated with those projects then it's ok with me.

    Leveling does more than simply extend the duration of the project. It shows which tasks get delayed and by how much, so it reveals which tasks need the most attention paid to the resource assignments. If you just hit the Level All button without any attention to the option settings and priorities etc, then sure, you get whatever result the engine spits out and it is almost always unacceptable overall delay. However, it is a starting point that you can start working from. What each different planner does from this starting point is determined by what strategy is adopted, and they are not all equally good.

    If a PM doesn't know any other way to resolve resource over-allocation than linking tasks as predecessors even when they are not really predecessors, then perhaps he should find someone who does. Once the plan is full of "real" predecessor links and the other kind, there is no way to tell which is which or why they are there.

    Trevor,

    I am really curious on what is your understanding of resource utilization in job-shop scheduling. Can you please elaborate ? Do you believe Project's scheduling algorithms are sufficient to deliver optimal resource utilization in a jobshop ? 

    Regards.


    Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:35 AM
  • I am also trying to use MS Project for Job Shop Scheduling.  Is there someone I can contact for experience?
    Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:12 PM