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Planning and Scheduling Frequently Asked Questions

Our account managers have put together a list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our planning and scheduling software. They’ve covered a wide range of topics from features and functionality to how best to approach your project. Call us on 01273 666999 or email to speak to an account manager directly for more in formation.

> Related product: Production Planning and Scheduling



  • Q Why do I need the Scheduler when I’ve already got an ERP system?
    ERP systems are inherently designed to managed transaction based processes such as quotations, orders, stock and inventory. The planning functionality in ERP also tends to be too simplistic to really drive productivity improvement or uncover and address critical problems. Seiki Scheduler is specifically focused on the live situation and future demand. Unlike ERP it works to finite capacity, accounting for real life constraints such as people, machine capacities, tooling and material availability to produce realistic schedules. Time plays a critical factor in any planning operations, which dedicated APS software is designed to support with fast, high-volume data processing capability.

    Q Are there any prerequisites that we need to meet before installing the Scheduler?
    To get started you will need works orders, routings for discrete manufacturing operations. If you are running the system standalone, this information will need to be input to the Scheduler manually. It’s important to remember that the key to getting accurate information from any scheduling system is good data. Most companies already have this data in some format and the introduction of scheduling creates the opportunity to cleanse and standardise it.
    Q What ERP systems can you integrate to?
    Using our EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) software we offer an intelligent interfacing solution between your existing ERP/MRP/PLM systems or other industry standard databases - i.e. Microsoft SQL.
    Q I don’t have an ERP system, is this a problem?
    Not at all, the Scheduler can be run stand alone as works orders, operations and even routings templates can be generated directly in the system. The routing templates can then be used to speed up the entry of new works orders.
    Q How long will it take to install the Scheduler?
    Whilst each system implementation will vary depending on the size and complexity of the application, we would typically estimate as little as a week for a standard installation. Where the Scheduler is to be interfaced to third party systems, additional project time will be required. We may also recommend additional time for go-live and post-installation support. We’re very much reliant upon data readiness and the availability of your people, so we recommend you allocate sufficient time for this into your own project plan.
    Q How much time will we need to spend on the Scheduler each day?
    Most of our customers find that the Scheduler significantly reduces the amount of time they need to spend each day managing production and progress chasing. The actual amount of time will vary depending on the volume and speed of changes to your workload. The time it frees up can be used for more creative, value added activities that will enhance your production operations and customer experience.
    Q Is the system easy to learn to use?
    As with anything new, the learning curve is very much dependent on the person but we typically find that people quickly become confident users of the system. We do recommend that you select key users (master schedulers) that are comfortable with software/computers and are familiar with your production processes and constraints. Also try to include as many people as appropriate in the training sessions to ensure a broad understanding and capability in its everyday use.
    Q How can I measure the benefits and success of the Scheduler for my ROI?
    Every project starts because you are trying to address a problem. It might be poor on-time delivery performance, excessive WIP, bottlenecks occurring too often; the list will be specific to your business. As early as possible you should identify the critical success factors in relation to these problem areas and we’ll work with you to determine how the Scheduler can help. You can then set up benchmarks and measures to track and analyse improvement. The most common example would be to track and report on due date adherence.
    Q Is it possible for two people to schedule at the same time?
    You would typically only ever have one active master scheduler. An optional Simulation license enables users to run different planning scenarios and save them as snapshots, which can be evaluated by the master scheduler and applied to the live schedule if appropriate. This means that you can take a collaborative approach to planning and scheduling.
    Q Can I share day plans from the Scheduler with my customer?
    The optional Microsoft Project Export module allows you to create a snapshot of the schedule, based on your selected criteria (such as customer/works order), and export the data to an .MPP file. This allows you to share detailed day plans with your customers.
    Q Can I change the efficiency of a resource?
    The Scheduler allows you to assign and modify the efficiency factor of each resource directly on the planning board at any time. The effect is to build more accuracy into your entire schedule by reflecting the true capacity and efficiency of the resource and understanding the effects across the workload. Our machine monitoring module will help you to derive more accurate machine utilisation figures.
    Q Can I use a tablet for Shop Floor Data Collection (SFDC)/WIP booking?
    Yes. Seiki AIR is browser-based and runs on almost any device with a browser. Ask your account manager for a copy of our minimum specifications.
    Q Can I use my existing Shop Floor Data Collection (SFDC)/WIP booking system?
    In most cases it is possible to configure a section of the EAI interface to run at regular intervals and update the Scheduler WIP status from bookings made in a third-party system database. To achieve full visibility and greatest accuracy in the Scheduler, the SFDC/WIP bookings should include both booking on and off the individual operations.
    Q Can I lock a job in place and re-schedule?
    The Scheduler allows you to lock operations to prevent them from being moved when using automatic scheduling. However, if you choose to manually drag and drop any operation it could affect the locked operations. This is giving you the flexibility to use the experience and insight of your planning team to manually adjust and refine the plan.
    Q Can the Scheduler auto-schedule new work/jobs, i.e. I don’t need to do anything?
    New works orders are held in a pending state until the Production Planner decides to release them for manufacture. This is a best practice approach that ensures that the Production Planner is in full control of new jobs.
    Q Can I combine multiple operations from different works orders into a single operation?
    With an optional module, the Scheduler allows you to combine multiple common process operations, such as heat treatment, into a single boxed operation. If the box is then scheduled or moved, all operations in the box are moved together. Booking a boxed job needs to be carried out using Seiki’s WIP booking software, it is not supported in a 3rd party system.
    Q Is there a limit to the number of operations it can handle and the database size?
    The Scheduler is capable of handling tens of thousands of operations without affecting the system performance. To give an example of the speed advantages, dragging and dropping an operation takes only a few seconds and the consequences can be seen immediately in a schedule containing over thirty thousand operations. As in all systems, the larger the database the longer it will take to commit the changes to the database when the schedule is saved.
    Q How are software updates made available and how do I get them?
    You can check for and download the latest software updates from within the Seiki Scheduler if you have a current maintenance contract. We would always recommend that you contact our Support Desk before installing any update to ensure compatibility with your system configuration.
    Q Can the Scheduler plan an assembly?
    The Scheduler understands the dependencies within a BOM or project structure. Component parts within sub-assemblies through to top a level assembly can be created in the system, and the indented BOM level set, either via an EAI import of the data or stand alone. The indented BOM level acts as a scheduling rule to ensure the components and sub-assemblies are scheduled in the correct sequence. The Scheduler tells you if the top-level assembly is on time or late.
    Q How do I inform the operators of their next operation(s)?
    Seiki’s WIP booking module delivers a prioritised work-to-list to the operator on the shop floor PC. From the work-to-list, the operator can select the operation to be started either manually or via a barcode scanner. The work queues have bi-directional synchronisation with the Scheduler, so any changes made to the schedule are visible on the work-to-list.
    Q Can I do multiple what-if scenarios?
    The Scheduler allows you to save multiple snapshots of different what-if scenarios. The snapshots provide a graphical summary of the total number of on-time and late works orders. Each snapshot can be opened in a new window to view and evaluate against the live schedule. The favoured snapshot can be saved as the new live plan.
    Q What happens if a machine breaks down?
    In the event of a machine breakdown or an operator is unavailable the allocated hours can be set to zero for the downtime period.
    Q Can I expand the system to add more resources in the future?
    The system is licensed per resource. There is no limit to the number of resources you can add.

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