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Just-in-time scheduling

Just-in-time (JIT) scheduling is a strategy designed to minimize the quantity of manufacturing work in progress (WIP) and inventories of raw materials and finished goods.

What is Just-in-time Scheduling?

Just-in-time scheduling is one aspect of the general principle of just-in-time production. The primary goal of JIT production is to minimize the time between receiving supplies and delivering the finished product to the end customer. Although JIT production was conceived as a standalone methodology (about 50 years ago by the Toyota Motor Corporation), today it is typically considered one aspect of lean manufacturing.

Just-in-time scheduling is how a manufacturer ensures, on a day-to-day basis, that each order is produced with just enough time to achieve on-time delivery. This same objective characterizes just-in-time planning, but the time horizon for JIT planning is weeks or months. Just-in-time scheduling enables a manufacturer to adjust to last-minute changes, which may arise due to work order modifications, time overruns, material availability issues, and other factors. JIT scheduling is designed to avoid late deliveries on the one hand, and a backlog of materials, WIP and finished goods on the other.

By reducing backlogs and inventories, just-in-time scheduling helps companies reduce waste from expired or damaged materials. Manufacturers also cut costs associated with warehousing inventory or stockpiling materials along a production line. With just-in-time scheduling, production cycles can also be optimized so that companies enjoy greater productivity from their manufacturing facilities.

As with other manufacturing planning and scheduling tasks, the execution of just-in-time scheduling has evolved from a paper-based operation to an application of general spreadsheet programs to interactive software systems designed specifically for planning and scheduling. Today, advanced planning and scheduling (APS) systems manage the complexities of manufacturing schedules. APS systems accomplish just-in-time scheduling with powerful tools that account for the many factors that affect the production schedule:

  • Availability of raw materials and other supplies
  • Availability of production resources (equipment, personnel)
  • Size and delivery date of each order
  • Operating speed and capacity of each machine to be used on each order
  • Production line changeover time
  • New orders that require fast turnaround

Related products: Opcenter Advanced Planning and Scheduling


Understand the benefits

By employing advanced scheduling software to implement a just-in-time scheduling strategy, manufacturers can create realistic schedules that account for many complex production variables. As a result, the schedule can be created in a way that optimizes productivity.

Reduced production time

Employ advanced scheduling software to create realistic and optimized schedules that account for complex production variables, minimizing delays and enhancing overall manufacturing efficiency.

Reduced lead times

Create optimized schedules, effectively managing production variables and minimizing delays in order fulfillment.

Simplified production schedules

Make realistic and streamlined schedules, effectively managing complex production variables for enhanced operational simplicity

Improved ability to meet specific customer needs

Accommodate a high number of complex production variables, ensuring greater flexibility and responsiveness to customer requirements.

Increased schedule adherence and on-time delivery

Effectively manage complex production variables and ensure efficient execution to meet deadlines.

Reduced inventory and work in progress

Handle intricate production variables to minimize excess stock and unfinished tasks in the production process

Just-in-time scheduling functionality

Advanced scheduling software performs complex operations to determine optimal just-in-time production scheduling. These include:

Order-based multi-constraint scheduling—Schedulers can create order-based schedules and apply a ranking or weighting to prioritize the orders. The just-in-time scheduling system creates schedules based on the availability of resources, additional constraints and materials required for the order. Schedules can account for different operation run speeds on different resources, apply sequence-dependent changeover times based on operation attributes, and allow overlaps and slack time between operations.

Advanced constraint modeling—Just-in-time scheduling software models advanced resource constraints, such as rules about concurrent usage, limits on time between operations, and by how much an operation time can be extended.

Advanced material handling—This capability enables the scheduler to implement custom rules about how materials are consumed. When allocating materials, a just-in-time scheduling system filters and ranks data for quality-related or customer-specific material usage constraints.

Advanced schedule optimization—Schedulers can define additional schedule optimization rules to address issues like minimization of changeover times, preferred sequencing and campaigning. Composite rules may also be built with the software’s workflow tool.

Assembly process visualization—A just-in-time scheduling system enables users to visualize the assembly process from raw materials through finished goods and sales orders. A graphical view of material dependencies and plots of stock levels over time allows users to see where shortages will occur. The user can choose to keep them as a constraint or ignore them.

Interactive schedule viewing—Just-in-time scheduling systems may be designed to allow staff members to interact with the schedule while preventing them from saving any changes they make. Such viewers enable:

  • The sales team to track order progress and carry out order inquiries
  • Management to compare actual times with scheduled completion times to assess production performance
  • Shop floor operators and supervisors to view up-to-the-minute work-to lists generated by the scheduling system
  • Development environment—Advanced scheduling software allows database schema and constraint model to be altered as required, including adding tables and fields. This means that production schedulers can create custom scheduling rules to solve specific scheduling problems, or they can create custom data manipulation tools for use with the workflow engine.

Successful implementation of just-in-time scheduling requires close coordination with the supply chain, so the degree of success depends on the supply chain partners' reliability of supply chain partners. A sudden surge in orders is more challenging to accommodate with the reduced inventories of JIT scheduling. Just-in-time scheduling also may leave a company vulnerable to manufacturing interruptions in the event of natural disasters and other disruptions. Manufacturers can determine the level of tolerable risk using advanced scheduling software that builds in contingencies.

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