The Difference Between Planning and Scheduling?

Great organizations understand they need to put tremendous effort into planning and leave scheduling to rules for the isolated process. Planning is the preparation necessary to flow value effectively from beginning to end through the entire operation. Scheduling follows rules that allow the isolated process to be as efficient as possible while serving the value stream.

Planning looks at a window of time and optimizes the entire flow path.

Scheduling looks a single process within a flow path and follows predetermined rules to efficiently create value but with a constant requirement to maintain the flow.

Planning is done up front and usually in an office.

Scheduling is done in the moment and usually on the shop floor.

Planning looks at a window of time?

Planning looks at a window of time, like a day, week, or month, and asks what the best way is to release the mix of products to the shop, so the entire flow path is optimized. For example, an extrusion company might look at all the orders for a week and after taking into consideration, the alloy, annealing practice, paint color, and shipping location, they create the best plan to release the product to the extrusion press.

The plan is released to the press in a sequence that will optimize the flow of the product through the entire value stream. It may not be the most efficient sequence for the extrusion press and actually require several die changes. It may require less than full annealing furnaces and staging lanes to collect finished product for a certain shipping zones, but it is the best sequence for flow through the entire operation.

Scheduling is done at the process by following rules

Scheduling looks at the orders available to run in the moment at a specific process. It follows a specific set of rules for the process created to efficiently add value, but with the entire flow path in mind.

For example, if there were a furnace that had to run one of 4 annealing practices depending on the characteristics of the metal, a rule for the furnace may be; run a specific annealing practice when a set number of that product shows up. If you get 18 racks of annealing practice A run it, if you get 18 racks of B run it, etc. But the rule may add if a rack sits in the queue for more than 2 days run it.

These rules are designed to recognize the efficiency of running a full furnace of material, but also recognize the need to flow material and not let it sit.

Scheduling is best done by the operator of the process and not by a scheduler. What happens too often is a daily resequencing of orders at every process as someone tries to adjust and re-plan based on what occurred the day before. It eventually dissolves into a hot list for every step.

Help your organization understand the difference between planning and scheduling. Work hard at creating a plan that optimizes the entire flow path but leave scheduling up to the process based on prespecified rules.

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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