Strategy Explained: Finite Capacity Planning and Scheduling

4/10/15 2:16 PM

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While every plant manager is constantly working to increase their production, all of them know that there is an upper limit to how much their facility can produce. Even at maximum efficiency, there are limitations on productivity. Your equipment can only generate product at a pre-determined maximum rate, your employees can only operate at a certain maximum speed, and you have to shut down eventually for maintenance and cleaning.

In some facilities, it's easy to determine the finite capacity for a production line. Fully automated equipment can be run at a set speed, and the amount of product produced over time is relatively easy to figure out. Most facilities, however, have to account for operators, tooling, specific capabilities, production waste, and a variety of other factors in order to figure out their maximum product run capability. 

Figuring out your finite production capacity is crucial for anyone who has to make decisions about scheduling. Any experienced manager knows that assuming that a line's ultimate production time is always reproducible will lead to orders not being met. Determining the maximum production capacity of the lines in your factory, however, can be difficult. This is especially true because this number can fluctuate. It's common for managers to know the finite production of a product line as long as the line is functioning normally without interruption. Factoring in maintenance, personnel issues, and material constraints, however, can mean that the monthly or yearly finite capacity of the product line is much lower than its short-term capability.

Every production line in your facility has its own set of issues and factors that affect its production. Older equipment might need more maintenance, adding to the downtime of a line. For products that require a high amount of personnel for setup, it's very possible that finite production numbers will vary wildly based on the experience of the people who are setting up or running the line.

It is also important to make sure that you take your waste numbers into account when determining your finite production capacity. Often, it is possible to increase the production of a line but at the cost of increased waste. Products that have less time to bake, dry, or form tend to be thrown away or sent through the line again much more often than those produced on a line running at a normal rate.

In addition to line-specific issues, it's also important for a factory manager to consider issues that affect the entire production facility floor. Holidays, general plant maintenance, and even government inspections have to be accounted for when determining finite production capacity.

Once you have a good set of data that will determine your production numbers, it's possible to maximize the efficiency of your facility. Knowing which employees and production lines will give you the most product in the best time with minimal waste is the first step towards a good production schedule.

There are many details that go into determining the true finite capacity of your facility, and most factory managers know that they have to consider these to match their specific factory if they expect to meet customer order dates and cash flow commitments.

Do you still have questions on finite capacity planning and scheduling? Leave us a comment and we'd be happy to answer! 

Image via Fresh-Energy.com

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Topics: manufacturing, PlanetTogether, Implementation, APS, APS, implementation speed, manufacturing technology, APS benefits

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