Which Is Better: Forward Scheduling or Backward Scheduling?

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There are two types of students at colleges, universities and other academic institutions: those who complete an assignment as soon as it is issued and those who leave things until the last minute. The same principles are often found at play in the world of manufacturing, as well.

Some businesses prefer to rely on a model of forward scheduling, via which they will allocate resources and begin working on orders as soon as they come in. Others favour a backward scheduling approach, which relies on working back from the due date of the order and factoring in the lead time to figure out when they need to begin operations. As long as they both complete the product and fulfil the order, both techniques are perfectly valid – but is one preferable to the other?

The case for forward scheduling

It makes logical sense that getting your schedule under control can help you get ahead in business. With that in mind, many manufacturing companies choose to put the wheels in motion and undertake a job as soon as it comes in, thus clearing the decks as quickly as possible, while also giving you plenty of time to overcome any issues or obstacles that may arise.

This allows you to maximise the output of your labour and redistribute resources in times of high demand. However, it does have certain drawbacks as well, such as the fact that it will occupy your resources and leave you unable to accept new, potentially more pressing jobs that arrive after you have begun. As such, it can stretch resources and create bottlenecks if an unexpected influx of orders comes in.

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The case for backward scheduling

By contrast, backward scheduling allows you to accommodate new orders as they come in, only diverting the resources for previous projects when the appropriate time arrives. It can also reduce your overheads, since you won’t pay for any labour, resources or storage space that you don’t need.

Backward scheduling isn’t a perfect solution either, however, since it leaves little to no margin for error if unforeseen problems crop up. It can also cause you to delay or even reject other work if resources have already been allocated to one at a later date. As such, a modern business need not rely on either approach, but rather a mixture of the two.

Covering all bases

One of the biggest trends in manufacturing in 2021 is the arrival of automation, which is having a transformative effect on the industry. By adopting technology that can delegate much of the menial and repetitive calculations and bureaucracy that once occupied your time, you can free up yourself and your human workforce to concentrate on what really matters.

These ideals are incorporated into the fantastic forward scheduling/backward scheduling software from Katana, which allows for flexible organisation of your workshop’s timetable. By optimising the way in which you control your inventory and streamlining the management of your shop floor, you can effortlessly create a flexible working schedule that automatically assimilates all lead times, delivery dates and raw material supplies to make your life as straightforward as possible. And with a free 14-day trial to get the ball rolling, it couldn’t be easier to take the reins of your manufacturing operation.