Every pressroom has a unique set of requirements and circumstances that make it impossible to generalize scheduling criteria for. What I’ll do here is run through a few simple steps using some of the features of Excel just to demonstrate some of what can be done. It’s then up to you to apply the methods to your particular situation.
If we make the following assumptions:
- Changing ink colors is more time consuming than changing cylinder sizes.
- Changing cylinder sizes is more time consuming than substrate changes.
It is logical to group the orders so jobs with the same ink colors are combined. Then, within a given color group, you’ll want to group according to cylinder sizes. Finally, you’ll group by substrate.
To do this, select the header row and all of the rows containing work orders (see “Help” in Excel). Click on Data > Sort and again make sure that the “Header row” option is selected. Based on the above assumptions, sort first by Colors, then by Cylinder Size and then by Substrate. Click on OK. Your orders should now be sorted into groups that are beginning to make sense. If you like, select grouped rows and sort by date. What you’ll end up with is efficient groups of work orders, sorted by date within each group. Fine-tune the sequence by moving individual rows or small groups of rows, if necessary. This brings me to another two Excel functions: Cut and Insert Cut Cells. I’ll demonstrate these functions to create separate press sub-schedules, and you can then use the methods to fine-tune the schedule. Let’s create a separate section for each press.
Say you have three presses to schedule for (your situation may vary). For this, we will create a total of four column header rows; one for each press, and one for our “reserve” or “staging” section, which is where orders reside until we’re ready to assign them to a press. The rule here is to create one more header row than the number of presses you are scheduling for.
Select the three rows immediately under the top column header row. Now, right-click anywhere on the darkened selection and click on Insert. You should have three new rows. Select the top column header row, right-click on it and click on Copy. Select the three blank rows you created, right-click on the selection and click on Paste. You should now have a total of four column header rows that look identical to each other. We’re almost there.