Why use Flow Scheduling?

Posted on: May 29, 2009 | By: SuperUser Account | QAD Business Process

Flow Scheduling is an alternative method for production scheduling and execution. It is used in place of standard Work Orders or Advanced Repetitive to drive firm demand to your shop floor and record activity. It is appropriate for a company that is working in a Lean fashion or is looking to become Lean. For environments that utilize push / pull systems or Kanban this package may help you reduce overhead associated with creation of work schedules and reporting.

What is Flow Scheduling?

Flow Scheduling is QAD’s latest production execution model designed for simple production scheduling and reporting. It allows you to assign finished goods or semi finished goods to production lines / areas, schedule production of your lines from MRP demand, and understand resource consumption based on production load and Takt times. You no longer have to create individual work orders or CUM orders for production reporting. You just need to create the production requirements by day or shift and report by item and production line.

Flow Scheduling allows you to:

• Set up schedule periods which will be the basic periods for which you schedule work. These could be weekly periods or any other scheduling timeframe. The available work hours are associated with these periods and will be used to calculate resource availability.

• Flow Rates – Allow you to adjust resource constraints for Flow reporting such as periods with overtime, downtime, or seasonal work adjustments. This information along with schedule periods provides the total resource available.

• Item Production Data – Associate Items with the production line / area you normally build on. Input Takt time associated with building in that production cell. You can also setup alternative production line data and rates.

• Flow Schedule Orders – These are created manually or by importing MRP Data. They appear to the users to be a list of production requirements for their production lines for a specific schedule period. They do create a standard Work Order in the background for backflushing and accounting reasons but the user does not interface with these orders other then through the Flow module and are normally unaware of the specific ID’s.

• Flex Fences – These are used to determine if a production schedule entered in Flow Scheduling is realistic. When a schedule is entered or viewed the system calculates the total resource available versus the items and quantities entered with their flow rates. This information provides total utilization and the total variance from available resource time. A warning is generated if utilization is outside the tolerance level of the Flex Fence. Using this information your scheduler may choose to reduce demand on that cell by moving demand to another timeframe or production cell, they may reduce demand by not building safety stock, or they could add additional resource though overtime and change the flow rates.

• Production Reporting – You use the Flow Module to report all completions and to backflush components. Optionally, you can modify the backflush transactions just as you can with other QAD production modules. Production Labor and Burden is reported at Standard.

Those are some of the highlights of Flow Scheduling. There are other capabilities of the module that I have not covered here but I would be willing to cover them with you if you have specific system requirements you’re looking for.

Flow Scheduling may be the right fit for you environment if you are looking for a simple scheduling tool that does not include a lot of production reporting. It is a Lean production scheduling and reporting tool built for a truly Lean environment.

Upgrading QAD to the latest version in a heavily modified environment:

We have many customers who have this same scenario. They have had QAD in place for years and are in a position where they would like to upgrade to the latest version. There may be a push to upgrade because the version they are running on is no longer supported by QAD. Their version has been heavily modified to meet their specific business needs and they need to know how to go about upgrading the system without impact to their business and how to reduce modifications where possible.

In my experience there is a specific flow that should be followed to ensure you complete this upgrade task on time and budget with as little impact to the business as possible.

Document and categorize current modifications. This is a big job in many environments but must be done carefully to ensure you can quantify the amount of work and time involved. I suggest you break down the modifications into the following buckets:

• Reports – Many of these modifications may need to be carried forward to the next version. Once they are listed you can work with the users to see which are still in use so you can eliminate the others. For the remainder you may choose to make simple reports into Browses or even move some financial reports to the GL Report Writer. Others will have to be slightly modified for the new environment so it is a good time to fix any major issues with them.
• Maintenance Screens – With this group of modifications you have an opportunity possibly simplify your modifications. After determining if the mod is still required you should spend more time on this group determining if they screens have changed or if functionality exists in the new version that would allow you to eliminate the mod. For those modifications are still needed you should look at the programming methods you have been using. You may be able to combine modifications between programs or use new technology such as triggers to reduce programming time and upkeep costs.
• Interfaces and utilities – Analyze if these mods are currently required and if the new version requires them to change. If you use EDI the changes may be extensive depending on your old version.

Once your programming requirements have been categorized you need to look at the capabilities of the new software. This can be an IT responsibility validating the capabilities and new functionality. It can also be an opportunity for functional team members to work through existing and new functionality along with business processes. The team would then rework existing processes and validate that the program modifications are still needed. In either case you will need a team of functional experts to validate the new system in a test environment to ensure business processes will not be impacted.

Logan Consulting has helped multiple businesses work through this process. We can help you come up with the appropriate strategy and budget. Logan will also assist in the areas of programming, database setup, training, process prototyping, and system validate or any of these that you need help with.

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