Manufacturing ERP Mistakes: Scheduling Issues

For many of us, scheduling is one of the primary objectives to justify the investment of time and money in manufacturing ERP. Get it wrong and you are on the road to ERP failure.

Where is the job in production? Will it be done on time? The customer just called, can we insert one more job into today’s production? Will we need to add a third shift next month when that big order hits the shop? We fell behind in production last week, how can we arrange the work to catch up with the least overtime?

Manufacturing ERP scheduling is part of the answer to all these questions. In addition, scheduling goes beyond our shop. Scheduling also drives material requirements. When we schedule a job to run at the end of next week, we also schedule the material that we have to purchase and receive at the beginning of next week.

Common Scheduling Failures

Many kinds of scheduling issues can lead to manufacturing ERP failure. One of the most common failures is when we set a schedule for the week and assume the planned production will be done by the end of this week.

Scheduling a manufacturing operation is the result of many assumptions. We assume work will be done at a certain pace. But that pace is not certain – it is an average over time based on different processes, different, individuals, or it is an engineer’s dream.

Scheduling can be the heart of a well-running manufacturing process. Scheduling can also lead to manufacturing ERP failure when not monitored and maintained frequently.

We assume materials will be available at the time needed for the schedule. What happens if the supplier’s truck was caught behind a traffic accident on the highway? Is your manufacturing ERP integrated with your supplier distribution updates? We assume subassemblies from all previous operations will all arrive as scheduled for the next operation. Scheduling a manufacturing plant cannot be static. Ideally, the schedule will be recalculated by your ERP every time an event occurs or an ERP transaction is recorded. Then the schedule might be perfect but if we cannot communicate the schedule changes fast enough, we will be constantly juggling balls and when one falls, we have to pick it back up and hope no one tosses us any more while we are blinking.

Recommended Reading: Manufacturing ERP - 10 Steps to Success

We can use manufacturing ERP scheduling in many different ways to reduce the risk of failure. We have finite and infinite tools at hand. We can schedule forward and backward. We can split jobs and combine the operations from multiple jobs to run simultaneously. Perhaps Sonya, who works in production, sees two jobs waiting; one is easy and she just has enough time to complete it by the end of her shift and the other is difficult and probably will not be complete when her shift is due to end. Does she check your schedule? Or, does she cherry-pick the easy work? You know the answer.

Production scheduling can be the heart of a well-running manufacturing process. Scheduling can also lead to manufacturing ERP failure when not monitored and maintained frequently.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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