Re: Advanced Planning & Scheduling for Manufacturing Company

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6 - Interface Innovator
6 - Interface Innovator

Do you think Airtable can be used for advanced planning & scheduling for a manufacturing company? More specifically, there are several machines and work stations with manual labour wheareas some workflow steps are necessary and some are not depending on the sales order. I want to calculate the optimal order when the material has to be placed at a certain machine or work station to manufacture the product. It is a relatively low volume, but high variety production.

We use Microsoft SQL Server/Navision which is the basis for our production data. There are scanners at each work station to track where the object to be produced is. Based on this, could Airtable be used to calculate the optimal order as described above and display when which object should be placed at a certain machine or work station? The calculation should consider the delivery deadline, capacity usage, production time and other factors.

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Yes (perhaps), but there are some requirements you’ve alluded to that are not entirely clear. The computations are a simple matter scripting and/or roll-ups/aggregations. How you convey this information to the manufacturing floor/operators is unclear to me. Maybe you could expand on that part of the process.

There’s also [possibly] an element of real-timeliness that cannot be understated. Airtable automation actions are not without a factor of latency and I sense that instantaneous conveyance of data and awareness by workers is perhaps a requirement.

Do you really think it is possible? It should be dynamic and in real-time, that means if something changes (for example a machine or product gets broken during the manufacturing process) then the manufacturing order should change. Also, it is desired that the production manager can interfere and manually change the order just in case - the optimal order should be re-calculated then automatically. As previously stated, the optimal order should consider capacity usage and constraints, if necessary material is in stock, the steps needed for the specific product variant and delivery deadline etc. Our end goal is to minimize the production time (fast delivery is highly important to customers) and to make better use of our resources/capacity.

Is Airtable fast enough to make the necessary computation?

To answer your question about how to convey the information to the operator: I would place a monitor at each work station which shows a kanban board (or Gantt diagram) with one column for each work station/machine. The items on the kanban board should be in the order to be processed. If one should wait for a specific kanban item then there should be a hint until it arrives at the work station. But this is just an idea, maybe there is something better?

I would say the latency may not be that much of an issue for this production workflow as the change from one work station to another is not lightning fast. Yet, this should be investigated.

As I said - perhaps. Without a complete understanding of your processes and integrations between Navision and Airtable I can’t be certain. But it seems plausible.

Yes. Read this.

I assume a breakage event would be in the Navision data? And how would that find its way into Airtable and at what speed would such updates occur?