Process Manufacturing ERP Requirements: Production Scheduling

Food manufacturers must get their product on the grocery store shelf at just the same time as a consumer wants to put the product in their basket. The product margins are usually low and most products will have an extremely limited shelf life.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers continuously develop new products that must be tested and approved by compliance agencies. The development cycle can be decades and the period of high ROI might be very short due to competition in the market.

Efficient and comprehensive production scheduling is one way a process manufacturing ERP can help both of these businesses. Our schedule should be a result of equipment and resource capacities balanced with the need for those resources to produce our products.

Simple Production Scheduling

A baker may bake only white bread, all day every day, and their cost per loaf may be very low. What is stopping him from expanding his production range to include wheat, rye, sourdough, and other varieties where there is a consumer demand? A simple process manufacturing ERP could record the recipes and production times allowing a user to create a simple production schedule for their small bakery.

Fully-Automated Production Scheduling

At the other end of the spectrum, a complex production scheduling module may provide automated production scheduling which can be driven by real-time data from order management, quality control, machine-to-ERP communication and a whole host of other disciplines.

Rule-Based Production Scheduling

If, as is often the case, your requirements fall in the middle of these two extremes, a rule-based production scheduling system may be best for you. Rule-based ERP scheduling could schedule batches which require similar or identical environmental conditions back to back to eradicate time lost in adjustment. It could also be used to reduce the inefficiencies associated with intensive equipment cleaning by assigning the batches that require this work to the end of the day.

Recommended Reading: ERP Manufacturing - 10 Steps to Success

In a pharmaceutical environment, rule-based production scheduling may be used to ensure new drug development only takes place using smaller, slower equipment to allow profitable products to use the more efficient production equipment. Alternatively, the irregular nature of this R&D work may mean that utilizing rule-based or automated ERP production scheduling is impractical and unlikely to produce a return on the investment required to obtain these systems.

As you can see, requirements analysis for production scheduling is likely to turn up more questions than answers. But it is these questions which will allow you to make crucial decisions between the varied options in this functional area of process manufacturing ERP.

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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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