Sign Builder March 2022

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Maximize Production Workflow Get more jobs done faster with little or no out-of-pocket expense. shops—are not blessed with complete cross training. But even if you have a fair amount of cross training, that does not mean that your employees will all show up or be on time. Technological mishaps. Machines break down at the worst possible moment, creating a scheduling nightmare and confirming Murphy’s law.

Clients change their mind. They move orders up or back or change the specs, and then, of course, as soon as they do that, the schedule needs to be redone.

Quality issues. No matter how good your quality, anything that is less than perfect impacts the schedule and has a ripple effect throughout the rest of the entire schedule.

Supply chain. Raw material or outside vendors don’t always deliver when promised and if they are off, they can throw off our schedule.

Information is not available or accurate. This makes it difficult to improve the situation when you are wasting time searching for information.

Employees lack cross training. Many shops—in fact, I would say most

Communication between departments is difficult. Orders are rushed


Sign Builder Illustrated

March 2022

into production and the relationship between sales and manufacturing suffers for it. So we schedule, we update the schedule, and we get stuck in a professional loop of rescheduling due to all of these sources of variability. These problems make it difficult, if not impossible, to dependably deliver every time as promised. The solution here is the way in which you actively manage flow: Material Flow, People Flow, Product Flow, and Information Flow. This is accomplished using a “3-Queue” process accompanied by a specific sequence of activities that help control flow, along with a disciplined routine and a little help from the Theory of Constraints and Lean/Flow manufacturing principles. The Lean/Flow manufacturing principles are a whole separate lesson, but for this article, let’s focus on the

Photo: Shutterstock/GaudiLab.


ost shop managers recognize the importance of production scheduling, but few really benefit from the results that can be gained when the right system is put in place, one that sets clear priorities for everyone and a methodology that maximizes workflow. The fact is scheduling is hard and with good reason. Let’s take a look at some things that make it so challenging: