Let’s Make Manufacturing Great Again© this National Manufacturing Day 2017

Let’s Make Manufacturing Great Again© this National Manufacturing Day 2017

This year’s National Manufacturing Day arrives at a most dynamic time with much attention focused on:

  • Initiatives for manufacturers to achieve and sustain both local and global competitiveness through operational efficiencies
  • A lack of new students entering manufacturing careers contributing to expanding ‘skills-gap’ challenge
  • Looming wave of mass exodus in manufacturing, due to retiring expertise,  further widening the ‘skills-gap’ to a crisis level

So what can we do to help Make Manufacturing Great Again©

User Solutions, Inc., celebrating their 25th year in serving the manufacturing market, continues to do its part by:

  • Working with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help manufacturers become more efficient, competitive, and profitable.
  • Investing in the next generation of manufacturing professionals by partnering with leading educational resources in the operations management areas.
  • Creating solutions that quickly and easily capture local manufacturing operational expertise that most anyone else can apply readily and repeatedly.

We don’t need to wait for new leadership, new laws, new products, or new markets.  A major part of any manufacturing organization’s bottom line success lies in its ability to produce efficiently, effectively and as fully optimized as possible. All manufacturers would do well to focus on operations management as the ‘secret sauce’ that can determine a manufacturer’s ability to compete.  The time is ripe for us to all pull together to work towards this noble goal, and to Make Manufacturing Great Again©.

Testimonials-NIST/MEP Consortium

“The Resource Manager is a great solution for manufacturers who are not ready for a full-blown MRPII, ERP, or Shop Management System but who realize the value of effective scheduling and planning. Resource Manager is unique in that it easily adapts to the way people are running their business today.” – Mike Parks, as Director of Georgia Tech’s CMIT, an affiliate of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)


Since 1988, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works directly with manufacturers to develop new products and customers, expand and diversify markets, adopt new technology, and enhance value within supply chains. MEP provides information, decision support, and implementation assistance to smaller manufacturing firms in adopting new, more advanced manufacturing technologies, techniques, and business best practices.


Testimonials-Education Commitment

OpsMgr“We have been working with User Solutions for several years to make their resource management tools available to our readers. Students can go online to the User Solutions website and download sample programs that address real-world issues. This allows students to address examples of production planning and scheduling challenges that are difficult to convey on the written page. Our continuing work with User Solutions has been a wonderful aid in providing students with realistic insights into the challenges of production scheduling.” – Dr. Jay Heizer




Many MRP programs, such as Resource Manager-DB are commercially available. A demo program is available for student use at www.UserSolutions.com

Since 1990, “Principles of Operations Management” has been considered the premier worldwide textbook in its field. Co-authored by Jay Heizer and Barry Render and published in multiple languages, the text features material on Capacity Planning, Supply Chain Management, Inventory Management, Material Requirements Planning (MRP) and ERP, Production Scheduling, and Lean Production Systems. The book has been and continues to be an ideal reference for both students and professionals.


Testimonials-NIST/MEP Customers

Greg Katz, then Vice President of Manhattan Store Interiors, N.Y., enlisted Industrial Technology Assistance Corp. (ITAC), the local MEP affiliate, to help him find a quick and easy solution for his plant’s planning and scheduling challenges. ITAC recommended Resource Manager from User Solutions.

Construction Guy Crop“I have been involved in the production of store fixtures for over ten years and every day was a struggle until Resource Manager from User Solutions enabled me to print in one minute what it would take hours a day to communicate. Suddenly I was able to quickly forecast our workload and schedule our shipments for our facilities in a fraction of the time it took before I starting using Resource Manager. As a result of using Resource Manager, we forecast a 20% increase in gross profits next year.” – Greg Katz, VP of Manhattan Store Interiors

PowerTowerACE Controls, Inc., had a requirement to improve their current system and to immediately implement a solution for the day-to-day scheduling challenges of the machine shop.  ACE Controls specializes in pneumatic linear decelerators such as those used at Cedar Point and the Power Tower amusement ride. Supported by the NIST/Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, Resource Manager was selected both for its benefit/cost ratio and for the company’s existing Excel platform, already used to communicate manufacturing reports.

“The product is so flexible and adaptable; it is quite easy to model different scenarios to determine if a certain method or schedule can actually benefit our bottom line.” –  Dave Teumer, Buyer and Scheduling Manager, Ace Controls.

Production Scheduling Optimization Techniques

Production Scheduling Optimization Techniques

While optimization typically has been reserved for bigger companies, with dedicated staff to create and run models using sophisticated software, there are some interesting alternatives to consider for most manufacturing companies.  The most famous of optimization problems is the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP): Given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities, what is the shortest possible route that visits each city exactly once and returns to the origin city?  Now, if you consider production scheduling optimization you might automatically recognize applying  a TSP optimization to Job Shops where you might have a number of different orders, each requiring a different routing.  And each routing might have variations as well, can run this product through a multi purpose CNC machine, or run it through individual machines?  And, what kinds of people are available to run such equipment?  The bottom line is, how should I run the shop to maximize my profits, or minimize my costs, subject to a variety of constraints -customers order due at definite times, workcenters have finite capacity, reduce overtime, per hour costs for various workcenters and labor, etc.?

For process operations, such as blending, the optimization result can minimize cost of components while meeting blending guidelines.  Anyway you look at it, optimization up front before releasing a production plan, will result in the most efficient and profitable solution.  What’s imperative is, once said optimal plan has been released, how to translate that to a detailed execution plan that will be responsive to day to day changes, and how to react, re-balance, re-optimize said plan while working it.

Now, given the amazing potential ROI for considering this step (optimization), and considering the tools are available in every copy of Excel (Solver), why aren’t more manufacturing concerns leveraging optimization?  Well, the truth is, there is a lot of fancy, high level mathematics behind the process, and most folks in that domain space prefer to keep the techniques a bit of a black box.   However, it might serve manufacturers well to investigate using Solver (and other open source solvers for Excel) in combination with a good production scheduling solution to achieve the highest level of profitability and efficiency possible.

Production Scheduling Optimization Techniques using Excel Solver

Production Scheduling Optimization Techniques using Excel Solver


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