Unique Scheduling Solutions

 
 

Unique Features of the FAST Scheduler

Activities using any number of resources
Earliest start and latest finish constraints on any or all activities
No time buckets (no requirement for times to be specified in preset increments)
Time-varying resource requirements within an activity
Individual and pooled resources
Wild card resources requirements
Attributes on Resources
Effective times on resource attributes
Resource requirements based on logical combinations of attributes
Priorities on activities (999 levels)
Activity tags (used for retrieving and reporting)
Multiple preset objectives (tightly-packed, fair-share, and others)
Customizable objective functions
Predecessor relationships among activities
Offsets and overlaps between activities
Interruptible and non-interruptible activities
(allowed or dis-allowed to flow around down times)

 

Enforce, Track, or ignore constraints
Max resource assignments in a specified time interval
Seamless combinations of manual and automated scheduling modes
Display of all scheduling possibilities (Feasible combinations of available resources)
Unscheduling of any selected activities (auto restoring of resource availabilities)
Time-transcendent scheduling (not necessarily earliest to latest)
Filtering to find activities that match specified conditions
Mass editing of activities with “save as” capability
Mass editing of resources with “save as” capability
Time-varying resource availability profiles
Fixed or rolling scheduling horizons
Unlimited number of users per site
Specifiable user privileges
Graphical and textual resource assignment profiles
Customizable displays (User specified labels)

 

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Other Key Features

Resources can be shared by many activities.

Resources can have time-varying availability (“finite capacity” for each resource).

Resource utilization is automatically calculated and displayed.

Activities can require many different resources and use each intermittently.

Activities can have different (user-defined) priorities.

System can show the user all times that an activity can be scheduled.

Multiple plans can be generated, revised, saved, and compared.

Operational alternatives are easily modeled and evaluated (“What-If Planning”).

User can reschedule some activities without disturbing others.

Constraints can be strictly enforced or relaxed to see conflicts.



How are our Capabilities Different from
Other On-Line Schedulers?

System is NOT a single-resource booking or assignment system such as an appointment book for a doctor’s office.
 
System DOES NOT use time “buckets” (e.g. 15-minute, one hour, one day intervals as required by spreadsheet models). Time is assumed to be a continuous variable and can take on any value for a start or end time.
 
System DOES NOT assume that resources required by an activity are used for the entire duration of the activity.

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Scheduling problems with relatively simple descriptions can be solved efficiently and even optimally with a handful of compute-based techniques. Unfortunately, most real-world problems defy these theoretically-based techniques because their environments do not match the simplifying assumptions that those techniques assume. This is especially true when describing a supply chain or operations planning environment. The FAST system removes restrictions found in many schedulers, even those currently found in Operations Management, ERP, and MRP II applications.

This leaves most operational environments depending on human schedulers who know the peculiarities of how their organization functions and who have become experts in fitting together complicated activities related to each other though the use of shared and often scarce resources.

We have all seen the rooms filled with grease boards and people using voluminous e-mails, text messages, and phone calls to cobble together schedules that are feasible to execute and do a reasonable job of utilizing resources.

It is amazing how well these professional schedulers perform their duties! However, it often takes them many hours, often requires several of them, and often requires a full-time effort to build and maintain the timelines and corresponding resource assignments. The FAST System is designed to support the scheduler who faces even the most complex planning problems by providing appropriate capabilities to enhance both the productivity of the schedulers themselves and the operational efficiency of the schedules they produce.

The F.A.S.T. Scheduling System

 

In the last twenty years, research on how to develop near-optimal schedules for real environments was sponsored by NASA, industry, and academia. The results have been a set of techniques collectively called “Finite Capacity Scheduling” that utilize the best capabilities of human schedulers along with the power of sophisticated computer techniques to produce schedules that are guaranteed to be feasible and are very effective in allocating resources. And these techniques are practical in several respects. They are efficient, they can be used to schedule or reschedule with minimal impacts on the organization, they can be used to analyze potential changes to operational practices, and they are easy to use. That is why so many of the leading Fortune 500 companies now use them.

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Successful Solutions

 

The developers of the technique used by Unique Scheduling Solutions have been pioneers in the development of practical finite capacity scheduling techniques. The particular technique available to our subscribers goes by the acronym “FAST” which stands for “Five-Agent Scheduling Technique.” It is a term inspired by artificial intelligence and uses five sets of logical rules to perform the scheduling. Each set of decisions is performed by an “Agent” i.e. a set of rules mimicking how a successful scheduler makes decisions. Aided by mathematical computations, the “Agents” produce a high quality (often even optimal) solution for the user to consider and manipulate further if desired. The Agents’ rules and the underlying mathematics are proprietary to Unique Scheduling Solutions, LLC. But we encourage you to see them work in the demo and to try them for yourself with a free trial.


 

You will see that the
best response to the question,
“How does it work?”
is the answer,
“Very well indeed!”

TRY IT OUT!

FREE TRIAL