From Spreadsheets to Detailed Scheduling Solutions

Moving from spreadsheets to detailed scheduling solutions

For the 25 years of our existence at Profit Point we have helped organizations capture value through the use of optimization. Moving companies from spreadsheets to detailed scheduling solutions is one of the ways we have accomplished that. As we were finalizing a deployment for one of our clients, they proclaimed that their scheduling system would now be compliant with the latest MMOG standards.

Materials Management Operations Guidelines (MMOG)

MMOG is an evolving standard, that all automotive industry suppliers must abide by, and score themselves with compliance to the guidelines. MMOG v5 has just been published, and in this version some of the changes require companies to no longer use spreadsheets for their production planning and scheduling needs – unless they are fully automated!

In our experience, many plants have been run completely from the calculations performed in Excel by generations of schedulers and planners. We have seen these workbooks in all shapes and sizes, some with links to ten or more other workbooks, distributed across multiple servers, with masterfully made calculations that can be nearly impossible to sort out. Spreadsheets are great when they work, and a nightmare when they do not. Easy to build, easy to break, Excel is a marvelous place for people to figure out how to do things. However, old formulas do suffer from neglect when the person who built them has departed, and the calculation is complicated. It is not unreasonable for the MMOG v5 standards to reduce the score if these fragile tools are the decision engine in the supply chain.

Moving to Detailed Scheduling Solutions

Several of our clients are suppliers in the Automotive Industry, and MMOG standards are a significant consideration for them. Which means they are a significant consideration for us! We are familiar with the role of large company enforced operational guidelines, and the impact on their suppliers. There are benefits and as expected it can create issues.

We have been replacing the homegrown spread sheet applications in plants for 25 years. Why? Because there are better platforms for the decision-making necessary to run the plant every day. Platforms which no longer require the scheduler to enter all the data manually. Orders, inventory, material codes, routings, production versions, bills of material, future receipts of materials, stock transfer orders, can be pulled from a system of record. (Hopefully, this system of record is an ERP System and not a spreadsheet.) This way more time will be spent improving the schedule, increasing customer service, and accelerating throughput. Information can also be maintained that is not found in any other system of record, right in the tool. The flexibility afforded by something like Excel can be retained, but with more discipline and structure. This might include things like non costed work-centers, run rates, production wheel information, setup times, permittable transitions, and other information critical to making a good plan or schedule.

Reduced Reliance on Spreadsheets

In a plant that uses Excel, a large portion of the day is usually consumed with the scheduler/planner entering data. Possibly the next biggest time sink is creating reports for the operations staff and management team. This also can be enhanced with the use of the right planning and scheduling tool. Web-based methods for publishing the schedule and capturing comments and status from various interested stakeholders can be implemented effectively. One the we at Profit Point have substantial experience with is Aspen Tech’s Schedule Explorer (ASE). ASE allows your production schedule to become the platform for review and commentary. This solution also captures the schedule as it changes over time.

With the right planning and scheduling tools the need for cumbersome spreadsheets can be eliminated, and a supplier becomes more reliable. If you want to improve your MMOG score, or just become a more valuable supplier, let us know. Supply Chain is complex. We can help.

About Jim Piermarini

Jim has extensive experience in the chemical industry, including ten years working in a plant and twenty additional years working with businesses to improve their supply chains.

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