Production planning: forward or backward scheduling?


Is production order going to be filled as soon as possible? Or is it going to be filled just in time for delivery?

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The former is called forward scheduling, where the first available time slot is assigned for production. The latter is called backward scheduling or just-in-time manufacturing.

When forward or backward scheduling is better?

It could be one, the other or a mix of both – this depends on the type of business.

A lot of times it just makes sense to plan everything in a row, especially in serial production. When an order comes in, add it on top of the pile. It is easy to make sure that your workstations are loaded airtight. This is a simple approach to planning. Customer tells you what he/she needs, and you tell him when the possible delivery time is.

However, if you make to order or produce according to a sales forecast, then this kind of forward scheduling might not work very effectively. It might happen that a lot of orders are filled long before they need to be shipped – they take up storage and keep assets standing –, and other orders go overdue because the requested delivery date was not considered while planning.

In backward scheduling system, you begin with a planned receipt date or due date—the date is typically given by the customer. Backward production planning in MRPeasy automatically plans manufacturing operations so that they will be finished by the time the order is due.

Manually done, this is a cumbersome task to make sure that every single operation gets planned correctly – considering workstation loading, planned maintenances, holidays and much more. MRPeasy makes sure that all orders are filled just in time.

Furthermore, if a requested delivery date is not attainable, you will know it right away!

In reality, production planning is possibly a mix of the two approaches: some orders are filled as soon as a slot is available; other orders are planned just in time for delivery.

There are only few MRP programs that enable backward production scheduling, for example SAP and MRPeasy.

In MRPeasy, planning production is fast and easy:

  1. Create a Manufacturing Order.
    The first available start time is offered instantly for forward planning.
  2. By entering the Due date, the order is planned to finish just in time.

Read more about just-in-time in Harvard Business Review.

Read more about Production Scheduling Software.