Job Shop Operations – How to meet customer deadlines

Everyone agrees, it’s a zoo.

No amount of “readiness” can avoid the peaks and valleys that are the result of customers popping in with “urgent” requests, customers who submit change orders covering work already completed, and a seemingly endless range of other issues that can arise during fabrication.

The remedy is agility and here are some guidelines toward increasing agility in your operations.

Go for a centralized scheduling environment that accommodates resource allocation, leveling and balancing at three (3) levels.

  1. Use BPM (Business Process Management) to provide in-line, real-time background guidance for orders fulfillment. Map out your standard processes and deploy these to a run-time Case management where tasks post automatically to worker InTrays. (doing the right things, the right way, using the right resources but accommodating ad hoc interventions when these are needed).
  2. Allow workers to micro-schedule their tasks. Some workers like to start their day clearing out a number of small tasks from their to-do list, then set their focus on one or two large tasks.  Others prefer to see progress with a large task and then set their focus on smaller tasks.  Giving workers this flexibility results in less resistance to liaising with your centralized scheduling environment. Rule sets will provide guardrails for the performance of work.
  3. Give your supervisors the ability to level and balance scarce resources across all orders, all workers. It’s difficult in a job shop operations environment to predict deliverables availability dates but experienced supervisors can detect evolving problems and initiate appropriate actions if you do nothing more than set a single alarm for each order at its “ship” node.

The approach I have outlined above seamlessly integrates software/machines/ workers/supervisors. It is customer-centric (accommodates ad hoc interventions)

It yields better results for job shop operations than traditional CPM scheduling which has difficulty accommodating ad hoc interventions along timelines. Not so when you are managing resources within an Adaptive Case Management (ACM) environment.

Isn’t it about time you started narrowing the gap between theory and reality in the area of managing scarce resources?

It’s not altogether impossible that you could increase throughput by something like 30% and reduce labor costs at the same time.

“Yes, yes, I know this sounds great, but I am busy and have no time to figure out how to do this”.

This is where an outside facilitator fits in – you don’t have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

Courtesy to Walter Keirstead. This blog is also available on

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By Karl Walter Keirstead @ Civerex | December 6, 2013

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