Unique Scheduling Solutions

Scheduling Done Right and the Bottom Line

Here’s the essence of a conversation I had recently with a colleague: Colleague: Did you notice that the “Acme Anvil Company” had three different departments doing planning and scheduling? (I changed its name for privacy.) Me:  Yes! They had a planning department that supported their sales people by supplying promise dates for new orders. They used an […]

Searching for Common Ground in Multi-Level Scheduling

Many organizations schedule at different levels of management, which can add another layer of complexity to the process.  For example: A manufacturer has a production planning department that builds schedules based on a capacity model that describes their capabilities in terms of “pools” of equivalent machines, work stations, and people with common skills. The schedule […]

Resources Can Now Have Attributes

The FAST scheduler can now handle resources with attributes such as size, status, location, capacity, — or any other user-defined parameter. Activities can require resources that involve these attributes. For example, an activity can require a room with at least a specified capacity, or a person with a particular skill set. You can even build […]

Beware of Stovepipe Scheduling

A doctor’s office schedules appointments for their physicians using an application built specifically for medical practices, but they find out that there aren’t enough examining rooms to support that schedule. A baking plant makes products in batches that must be finished once they are started. They use a foodservice scheduling software that accommodates that requirement, […]

What’s the Priority?

Should you schedule the most important things first? If you have several activities to schedule, it seems like a logical strategy to schedule the higher priority ones before the lesser priority ones, right? Well that doesn’t always work out. In fact, it is rarely the best strategy for finding the best schedule. If you’re able […]

Tag! You’re it! How attributes bring scheduling software to the next level

As I have discussed in previous posts, the  scheduling problem is not only selecting a start time for activities, but also the challenge of selecting the resources to support those activities (aka: the “assignment problem.”) If you are a scheduler and you select all the resources for the activities yourself, you are taking on the […]

One Size Does Not Fit All: Essential versus desirable is a critical difference in scheduling

Do any of these sound familiar? This project has several tasks that can be done by any of my qualified technicians, but it’s best if the people who start the project complete all of the tasks. Umpires can work multiple games in a day, but its best if they don’t have to move from one […]

Confessions of an Optimizer: When is “excellent” good enough?

As we all know, an optimal solution is best when it comes to any scheduling operation. But is optimal always practical? Not necessarily.  If you have an environment with frequently changing requirements like most operational situations, you may need to shoot for “excellent” rather than “optimal.” Optimizing a schedule involves a search for alternative resources […]

Which and When? Are these questions coupled or separate? (Hint: They’re BOTH!)

Scheduling is basically answering the questions, which resources should I use? And when should I use them?  The “which” question gives rise to a set of alternatives (that you can read more about here), and the “when” question gives rise to an infinite set of time possibilities. The coupling of these two questions is what makes scheduling challenging. Nevertheless, there […]

When Dummies are Smart

Pro tip: Using dummy resources is a great tool for creating a winning schedule. For example: We were scheduling surgeries for a hospital. Each surgical procedure required an operating room and, of course, a surgeon. But each surgeon was part of a specialty group like orthopedic, cardio-thoracic ophthalmology, etc. Each of these specialty groups was […]