Machines and production lines have an inherent upper limit on how much they can produce. Additional real-world considerations further limit output, such as shift schedules, operation times, changeovers, and order mix. Putting together a production plan and schedule can feel like a puzzle, placing and sequencing operations to take full advantage of the available resource capacity. Properly managing capacity utilization can mean the difference between profitability and losses.


SITUATION: A European-based contract manufacturer for the world’s largest semiconductor equipment companies produces products with upwards of 40,000 individual operations. These operations require a range of resources including CNC milling, welding, assembly, and quality checks. Bottlenecks at certain resources are managed by maintaining a master spreadsheet of major products and their expected quantities for certain weeks to smoothen capacity over the next 6 months.

CHALLENGE: Planners rely on their experience and gut feel to manually smoothen out capacity bottlenecks. The sheer number of operations per product, the operation statuses on the factory floor, and resource limitations makes it near impossible for human experts to make the best decisions. Certain machines still experience capacity spikes and lows.

SOLUTION: The relationships between how long each operation takes and the resources capable of handling each operation creates a baseline from which a production plan and schedule can be generated. As operation start/end timing data gets collected, resources can be better allocated and monitored. Potential bottlenecks can be spotted far in advance with the ability to quantiatively compare tradeoffs.