One of the biggest challenges for any industrial manager is to plan a production schedule so as to use resources as efficiently as possible.
There are many conflicting objectives. Longer production runs are more efficient as they minimise set-up time, but the need to maintain a wide range of products may require shorter production runs. Carrying large inventories of raw materials and part-finished goods gives you flexibility, but it costs money. Synchronising deliveries of inputs and outputs, allocating machine time and labour – these are all hard problems. It's no wonder most firms operate well below their theoretical capacity.
Stehlik & Co are experienced in designing production planning software systems to help solve this kind of problem. Our developers are trained professionals, who approach problems with rigour and creativity and produce sound pieces of software engineering. Our process is based on a consultant's understanding of your production process, which we apply to the design of a bespoke production planning application.
Data and control
We build systems around your existing business management processes. Typically, a production planning system needs to match up orders to resources and generate instructions. In order to do this, the system needs to be integrated with accounting systems. We can, for example, design a system which both reads and writes data to Sage and other management accounting packages.
The data from the management accounts is read into the part of the system which effectively models the production process. For a bakery, for example, there would need to be a representation of all the recipes for the products which might need to be produced, along with descriptions of the time taken by different stages of the process. For manufacturing or biotechnology businesses, the "recipes" would be specified in somewhat different terms, but the underlying principle is the same.
The next stage in the process is the optimisation layer. This is the place where the value is added in the system. Given the desired output schedule and a suitable description of the process, the software can bring all the techniques of mathematical optimisation to bear. Our developers and consultants know how to use the correct algorithms and heuristics to generate optimal solutions quickly and reliably.
How you benefit
Even experienced production managers are often surprised at how much of a difference a scientifically optimised production schedule can make. The efficiency improvements are often significant enough to allow better use of existing capacity, instead of entire new production lines. It is also common to find that inventory requirements are lower for a process which makes full use of optimal scheduling; this is the basis of the famous "Toyota Production System" which gave the world the concept of "just in time manufacturing".
A good planning system works with the management team rather than against them, keeping track of logistics and allowing for bigger and more complicated projects to be taken on. Almost as a by-product of its optimisation, the system provides record keeping and tracking services, which can be integrated with your reporting systems. With better information and confidence in planning, it is possible to become more ambitious in using your capacity. For our bakery client, for example, the implementation of a planning system was a key part of a project to move from two shifts to round the clock working.
Flexibility and reliability
The true test of a production planning system is whether it can be updated and modified to take account of changes in the underlying business and its priorities. In all too many cases, the first time a system needs to be changed is the first time its unfortunate owner learns about serious design errors which were made in the initial development process and which are now almost impossible to change. This is a particular risk when a production planning system has been stitched together from off-the-shelf components, rather than being developed on a bespoke basis which follows the underlying business logic.
A bespoke production planning application is also likely to be more secure and more reliable, which is of the greatest importance when one considers how critical these systems are to the underlying business. At Stehlik & Co we develop systems with robustness and flexibility built into the design, based on our fundamental philosophy of sound, engineering based software principles.
Contact us to find out how we can make your systems work better
We believe that our approach to bespoke systems development is capable of reliably delivering superior systems. If you do not have a custom built application to streamline your management processes, it is our belief that your business is likely to not be operating as efficiently as it could be. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discussion, and you can find out more about the ways in which bespoke software development can lead to tangible improvements in planning and production, and the ways in which Stehlik has the skill and commitment to deliver the best software systems.