Finite Scheduling in Dynamics 365 Business Central

I have been working with manufacturing companies for almost 40 years and in that time, Finite Scheduling has come up as a commonly requested feature. In this blog, I will discuss the Theory of Constraints and how Dynamics 365 Business Central utilizes Finite Scheduling.

What is Finite Scheduling?

Finite Scheduling is scheduling production orders to only open periods of time within the work centers (machines). This in theory eliminates being overloaded and should increase throughput as your important work centers are often fully or close to fully scheduled.

Finite Scheduling is like setting up a line of dominoes, once one tips over, they all fall. The issue with finite scheduling in most situations is that changes in the schedule cause massive issues within your finite schedule (and the dominoes start falling). It is also very time consuming to balance and plan a finite scheduled shop. It was a feature that sold systems but was not implemented successfully, if at all.

Theory of Constraints

In 1984 author Eliyahu M. Goldratt wrote the first edition of his blockbuster book “The Goal”. The book does an amazing job of communicating the Theory of Constraints through an entertaining story. The Theory of Constraints is basically that you should identify the constraint work centers (hold up) in your shop and only finite schedule those.

I relate it to my clients using laundry as an example. In my case the washer is much quicker than the dryer, thus it would be of no benefit to purchase a faster washer, as the process would still be hampered by the speed of the dryer. The Theory of Constraints would suggest in my laundry example I purchase a quicker dryer to speed up the process, or at least schedule the time allotted to laundry based on the speed of the dryer.

In almost every manufacturing shop I have visited there are constraints, normally you can only have one constraint per production flow, but many times companies will have more than one production flow or routing. Often the constraint work center is the expensive machine that is critical to their production process. The Theory of Constraints suggests that you finite schedule your constraint work centers and infinite schedule the rest. Over time the constraints within a production flow can change, hence the work center you finite schedule would change.

Although the book is over 40 years old the premise is still valid. Unfortunately, I don’t see the book on the shelves of many of the clients I work with. The Theory of Constraints was so popular that complete scheduling software packages were written around it.

Finite Scheduling in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central gives you the ability to identify work centers, the constraint, you want to finite schedule. After identifying your capacity constrained resource that is your bottleneck, you can be assured that your constraint work centers will be scheduled as efficiently as possible, and that you are getting the most throughput in the plant. This functionality is utilized when scheduling orders through MRP and gives a better vision of how overloaded the organization is and when production orders can be completed. Typically, planners or schedulers use this feature in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

I find this amazing feature is not often utilized because users are not aware of it or are not familiar with the benefit of finite scheduling the constraints within their production shop.

How to Navigate to the Capacity Constrained Resources Page

To navigate to the Capacity Constrained Resources page in Dynamics 365 Business Central, type in ‘constraint’ in the search function and click ‘Capacity Constrained Resources’.

In the Capacity Constrained Resources page, users will identify the capacity restrained resource.

Start by selecting the Capacity Type, which could be a Work Center or a Machine Center.

In the Capacity No. field, you select which resource it is and then you identify what the Critical Load % is.

For example, if there is a machine that is critical to the business like a CNC machine and everything has to go through that, I could finite schedule it so it only schedules to open periods of time. But I might know that I’m not going to get 100% efficiency out of it, so even though it works 16 hours a day, I’m going to say I’m going to get 90% out of it, which is the most I can expect. This leaves us with a little bit of a buffer so that if something doesn’t go as planned, I’ve got a little extra room.

The idea is that it’ll schedule that machine only to open buckets of time. The system will look to see what other work is going on and will see what other machines the rest of the shop is using. The system will schedule those each as if they’re the only job on that machine. In other words, it could potentially overload the other machines, but it’s the constraint I’m most worried about. The constraint is the one that everything has to go through that’s going to affect my throughput more than anything.

Once the job takes a time slot, it’s not free for somebody else. However, as your schedules shift, a user may need to go in and manipulate the schedule. The reason this happens is you don’t want the system deciding which job is the most important.

The bottom line is that Dynamics 365 Business Central has the basic functionality that allows customers to finite schedule their capacity-constrained resources. Once the customers identify the bottleneck, then the system will schedule accordingly.

Contact us if you have any questions about Finite Scheduling in Dynamics 365 Business Central.

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