Efficient production schedule – what are its critical elements?

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Table of contents

    The following article gives some practical tips on organizing a production schedule and production planning

    • How to make an efficient production schedule and according to which elements it is best to organize it:  machines, operations, procedures, stages, employees, or maybe something else? 
    • How to create a production schedule which includes and reflects ideas you have in mind and simplify the whole production planning process? 
    • Check out how to create a transparent and optimal production schedule, avoid large ERP implementations’ mistakes and convictions. 
    • What is the best way to divide the production process into different stages?

    The production schedule organized by machines, operations, procedures, or maybe the stages of work? This matter seems trivial, mainly if we talk about your company, which you know inside out, so creating a schedule might seem like a piece of cake. However, the practice shows an urgent need to address this issue; we have received a significant number of questions via the customer support chat box and created numerous attractive solutions together with our Clients. 😊 

    The way you organize your production schedule will often determine the implementation process’s success, speed, and course.   

    Many wrong production scheduling and planning (ideas of having a complicated work schedule or artificial correctness in adjusting to some form) result from strenuous ERP implementations. Some things are done to serve their purpose. Consequently, you end up with the useless and expensive tool and do most of the planning manually, using the old methods.  

    Following the practical approach in production scheduling, you will see that not advanced or sophisticated functions, but the fact that looking at the orders you will be able to SEE and FEEL YOUR PRODUCTION, will mainly decide whether you love this new concept and intent to make life easier, or get back to your old ways and plan production in your head, ignoring advice from the production planning software. 

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    TIP 1: DITCH THE THEORY – ORGANIZE A PRODUCTION SCHEDULE ACCORDING TO WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND organize production mixing different approaches?

    Ensure that you can see the shop floor in your manufacturing company, just in the way you think of it whenever you look at the production schedule. Remember that if you or your workers look at the production schedule and can’t “feel” it, it’s not a promising sign. 

    Answering the question which appears at the beginning of this article, we can say that practically speaking in 90% of manufacturing companies, transparent, clear, and simple production schedule is a MIXTURE of MACHINES / TECHNOLOGICAL OPERATIONS / STAGES and PROCEDURES. 

    .. That’s right. Therefore, only complicated and not flexible ERP systems can dictate your production schedule elements, contrary to Prodio, where you can do things as you wish and adjust them to your own needs.

    Having hundreds of successful implementation cases below the belt, where company owners use and love the Prodio production schedule, there is the best answer to the question: “According to which elements organize production schedule?”: organize it according to HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT your PRODUCTION. It usually will be THE MIXTURE OF MACHINES, PROCESSES,  SUPPLIERS and STAGES.

    Case study:

    The company produces a wide range of bespoke furniture, even though the business is growing. Although there are more and more new machines in different departments, it is still the most important for the company owner, who plans things in his head, that people know how and what to do, so he can calculate total production time. Each machine is occupied is not the key because there are thousands of elements in each project, and workers can change the order of things to suit the progress.

    Imagine that instead of operation “Boards preparation” consisting of a queue of different tasks, he would have to split them into CNC cutting machines dedicated to wooden boards,  plotters, saws, band saws, etc. The owner would probably give up before delegating tasks to the production hall. Even if the order would get there, the workers could confuse things between the machines. They wouldn’t check things every few minutes with the computer, relying on their professional knowledge and expertise.

    TIP 2: MAKE SURE THE PLAN IS AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE,  but not too simple!

    The more you divide your production into tiny elements, detailed workstations, tens of minute operations, even when you have good intentions to tackle all the problems with your production scheduling software, there is some risk that you and your employees might feel overwhelmed by data provided, stuck in numerous columns, hundreds of orders. As a result, things that seemed easy previously now might appear to be complicated or chaotic.


    The company, which prepares microbuses based on the conversion of delivery trucks changing from paper orders to the Prodio system, divided all operations during each stage into detailed elements. For example, the works on the new wiring loom had several operations. Installation of the fridge, LED panels left and right, neon sign installation, tv-sat cables, etc. What’s important is that two people were in charge of all electrical works for the particular project and did everything in two stages separated by installing new elements. From the project’s perspective, it wasn’t necessary to check in every 5 minutes with each detail or operation. The boss needed a precise calculation of the total working time and hours spent on each car conversion to know if it is ready for the following production stage. 

    On the other hand, a simplified production schedule might seem more transparent at first sight, but it does DOESN’T GIVE you any added value. Because the production schedule is too general, you or your workers must physically go to the production hall to check what’s happening there.

    AN EXAMPLE: If you operate in a paint shop, where each element has to be first prepared for painting, then painted for the first time, sanded, painted for the second time, and finally is ready for annealing, if you have only one operation named “Paint shop” it won’t do the trick. Tens of orders in different stages of the painting process will mix. When you intend to see when, for example, the rim order will be ready, all you will see in the system is that the order is in progress at the “Paint shop.” It won’t tell you how advanced the work is or whether the order is stuck somewhere between sanding and second painting operations.


    If you lack an idea of organizing your production schedule, focus on listing all the places where bottlenecks most frequently appear or name operations that are most likely to be on hold waiting for the previous procedure to be finished. 

    Production scheduling can have multiple roles, starting with the TIP 1 situation when you feel and see what is happening at your production hall. It’s vital to plan the proper queue during most essential operations, where bottlenecks tend to appear.

    AN EXAMPLE: Does it make sense to divide an operation into three separate machines if, in reality, you still have only one experienced worker who works on one of those machines at a time? In such a situation, the only thing you create is chaos because you will lose clarity. It would be a much better solution to use the operations, namely in the comments/tags of tasks assigned to the machine operator, to indicate which of the three machines he is supposed to use and when.

    Similarly, if a given operation delays work, the following stages have to wait, which creates a bottleneck. Therefore, it is recommended to mark it at the production schedule. This will significantly improve communication. A good example could be adding to a production schedule a quality control procedure that would free the product to go to the next stage or allow technologists to prepare programs for the machines. Thanks to this solution, the workers at the following production stage know if a given order is ready or still on hold.  


    It is a great practice to include other operations not strictly associated with production in the whole manufacturing process. This improves the organization of work in manufacturing companies. 

    For example, some clients set the first operation on the production schedule, “Preparation of technological documentation” in the office. At first glance, it might seem a bit strange, but it is a beneficial and practical solution. On the first machine tool, the worker may have several orders in the queue by his manager/planner. Still, they can see in real-time which ones are ready to start and which ones are on hold because of the incomplete documentation or missing programs for the machine tool. Unfortunately, due to the lack of technologists, this is the place where bottlenecks appear. That’s why the correct queue of orders is so important. 

    Other examples include mounting the form on the machine, furniture assembly, or production of headstones at the graveyard  (the latter is a true story – what’s more, the customer divides orders into separate assembly teams), external operation delegated to subcontractors such as galvanization or quenching. We could multiply the examples, but they have one common feature: looking at the production schedule, you are sure that the whole production process is covered in 100%.  


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    TIP 5: DIVIDE A PRODUCTION SCHEDULE INTO DASHBOARDS to make the view easier for you and the employees.

    Remember that clarity is what you and your workers need the most, particularly when deciding to mix a different approach to production scheduling and making a production schedule. That’s why it is essential to separate different production views, and dashboards are perfect for that task. 

    Production dashboards

    What are production dashboards? It is the easiest to explain when you imagine them as large-sized separate boards with tasks placed on the wall in different departments of your company. However, as we are in the XXI century, it is more likely for the boards to be in the electronic version, and they would instead display machines.  

    Thanks to dashboards, each department can see only their area of interest without going into others’ responsibilities and having only relevant machines/operations at the production schedule. Furthermore, automation and online data processing ensure that particular production orders visible on the production schedule contain information about the progress and the stage the given product is at; communication is constantly improving and gets better and better, even though everything is divided into different production schedules. 

    You can find more information about operation predecessors in other articles.

    An example: Production schedule and dashboards organized by different industries based on clients’ experience: 

    • CNC machining companies: 
      • dashboard: construction office 
        • different technologists preparing documentation and programs
      • dashboard: CNC machines
        • machine FAAC 300mm
        • machine FAAC 400 mm
        • machine Fanuc 5 axis 
      • dashboard: finishing works
        • polishing
        • quality control 
    •  a company producing cosmetics:
      • dashboard: formulation
        • different reactors / stirrers
      • dashboard: packaging
        • bottling line 1 
        • bottling line 2
        • labeler
        • packaging
    • carpentry shop:
      • dashboard: cutting
        • saws
        • CNC machines
      • dashboard: assembly
        • manual assembly operation
        • gluing
        • varnishing
      • dashboard: assembly at the customer’s place
        • different assembly teams and their tablets 

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