One of the most important planning problems for the packaging industry is factory operations scheduling to ensure that due dates are met while shop floor efficiency is maximized. Depending on various machine type choices available for a process, such as printing machine types, there may be important tooling restrictions such as the number of anilox rolls available of a certain type.

Usually, one of the most important operations to be scheduled is the printing operation which not only requires a high changeover time but also sometimes requires the consideration of tool restrictions which implies other printing machines must also be considered while scheduling a single printing machine.

There are also complex predecessor-successor relationships between subsequent processes such as printing and lamination which determine the overlap durations and these durations cannot be determined by simple approaches such as “lamination starts 45 minutes after printing”. There are many factors affecting the overlap duration such as the size of the rolls, the speeds of preceding and succeeding operations and the shift structures of preceding and succeeding machines.

As common with other industries, the main driver of changeover minimization is the grouping of similar jobs for subsequent processing. However, the due dates cannot be ignored. Furthermore, due to B2B nature of the business, the priorities of different orders from the same entity change frequently which impose a significant burden on packaging manufacturers for managing shop floor operations effectively.

The typical factory operations scheduling solution for this industry must be able to handle simultaneous tooling conditions, changeovers and overlapping constraints while enabling the planner to manage constantly changing customer order priorities. The output of factory operations scheduling can sometimes be difficult interpret with all its implications. NovaLab’s planning software, xS Planner, provides interactive material requirements plan view in addition to warnings related to various aspects of the plan such as late orders and a dashboard for KPIs.

Factory Operations Scheduling

The factory operations scheduling module of NovaLab’s planning software, xS Planner, offers the interactive planning framework coupled with the fully automated or semi-automated optimization...
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