If you’re building your actual schedule as we go, you already have jobs assigned to certain presses. Start by selecting the row(s) corresponding to the press you’ll have at the top of your schedule. Right-click on the selection and click on Cut. Select the second row of column headers, right-click on it and click on Insert Cut Cells. The Press 1 order(s) should now be under the first row. Do the same for the order(s) for Press 2, Press 3, and so on, each time selecting, cutting, and inserting cut cells. You should end up with at least one job scheduled for each of your presses, and the rest of the jobs at the bottom, which I like to call the “reserve” section.
Note that we cut, rather than copy, so that we don’t accidentally leave behind an order and end up with duplicates. Also note that we inserted rather than pasted the orders into place. By pasting we may accidentally paste over existing records. Inserting displaces, rather than replaces, records.
Using the techniques outlined here, experiment with sorting, cutting, and inserting cut cells. Sort by different criteria and study the results. You can select and cut more than one row at a time. Play with the schedule until you end up with all jobs scheduled on a press, or purposely held in reserve.
All that’s left is to print out a master schedule and sub-schedules that can be posted at the press, if you like. Rather than detail how that’s done here, let me invite you to teach yourself how set print area and set up a page layout for printing by using “Help” in Excel if you’re not already comfortable with the print functions.
You will want to familiarize yourself with formatting cells. For example, if you have work order numbers or product identification numbers that have zeros at the left, you’ll want to format the column they’re in as “Text” so that the zero is not dropped. If you include either units or yards to print, you’ll want to format those columns as “Number” to however many decimal places you like before entering numerical data. This will allow you to use the numbers in calculations and sum the total of two or more jobs, if you like.
In the pressroom I manage, I use the above spreadsheet methods combined with a little help from an MS Access tool I’ve developed to schedule for 14 presses, 3-shifts, 33 operators. We print an average of 100-120 work orders a week, with anywhere from 200-300 work orders on our plate at any given time. If you don’t currently have an effective scheduling method in place, or if your not satisfied with your current method, I encourage you to try what I’ve described here. We’ve seen an increase in production of 25%-40% since refining these methods, and I can’t tell you how often operators comment on how the way jobs are lined up is so much friendlier than in the past. The key lies in the increased visibility of work order specifications, and the ease with which records (orders) can be manipulated. If you can’t see efficient patterns or combinations, it’s unlikely you’ll routinely group by them. And for facilitating the identification of these combinations, you just can’t beat a spreadsheet.
Frank Burgos, Flexo Industry Consultant
Phone: (336) 812-3784
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