Additional Schedule Improvement Techniques
In the previous section, we described a few techniques for modifying a schedule in Aurora to reflect the cases of unexpected delays or obstacles. However, while the changes to Job-level or Resource-level specifics can reflect the schedule actuals on a Shop Manager level, the overall impact to the schedule may not be satisfactory on a Project Manager level, who is not only concerned with the smooth operation of the shop floor tasks, but also the overall health of the schedule, including finish times, additional labor costs, and workforce efficiency.
This section provides a few additional techniques from a Project Manager perspective.
First, let’s revisit the Fever Chart produced after applying the changes in the previous section.
As you can see, while improvements are made, their effects are not enough to bring the schedule back into green, which is where the Project Manager desires.
In this example project, most of the delay is caused by an equipment failure, as described in the previous section. The Shop Manager is able to apply a few techniques, such as changing the resource value, or reassigning the resource schedule, to work around that.
As a Project Manager, there are a few more tools at his disposal in Aurora that offer more detailed views on the project, which can help diagnose problems and come up with solutions.
The Criteria Editor
In the Gantt view, Go to the Criteria Editor and select a pre-defined ruleset. The Criteria Editor allows one to set rules and filters for different kinds of visual displays. (More on setting rules and display types in the Criteria Editor coming soon)
Applying a custom-designed ruleset using the Criteria Editor to show specialized displays in the Gantt chart.
Applying a specific ruleset allows the Project Manager to see clearly what jobs are using the malfunctioning equipment in question, and the relationship between jobs that are on pause and jobs that can continue to function using a similar equipment. This can help the Project Manager to determine whether resources or equipment can be shared across jobs to help alleviate the missing equipment, by “borrowing” resources from another job.
In this view, all the red marked jobs uses the broken equipment, while the jobs with the blue border use another functional equipment.
Copying a Resource and adding it to a Resource Set as a candidate for usage consideration
Seeing that there are still many blue boxed jobs using the functional equipment, Project Manager can attempt to borrow that equipment for use on the red jobs.
This is done by adding another equipment type resource, done by copying and renaming the current resource M2_4 into M2_5.
Then add this newly created resource to the resource set belong to Machine Set 2.
From this point on, this resource, M2_5, will be also considered a candidate for any job that needs to use the Machine type 2. After this is done, reschedule to see how much time the new resource is saving the project.
The resulting fever chart:
As the chart shows, while there have been improvements, they are not significant enough to help the project.
Adding additional shifts to the labor force
In the current project, there is a daily gap in the schedule, due to that the current labor force is working a two-shift calendar, thus leaving every night idle machines that are not being utilized.
A work gap that occurs daily between 1500 and 0100 hours due to lack of scheduled shifts.
An obvious way to take use of the idle machines and make up for the broken equipment and the lost work time, is to add an shift that fills the daily gap with workers.
In practical usage, a third shift may prove to be too brutal for the labor force. However, theoretically speaking it is very effective in filling the gaps created by any malfunction equipment or work time lost. The steps are outlined below:
Go to the Calendar Tab and select the current calendar, then click on the Add Shift button.
Add a new shift that fills the current daily gap. E.g. from 1600 to 2300 hours.
A new shift, shown in purple, has been added.
Now reschedule and we can see that the additional shift has helped to bring the project back on track in a significant way. In the resulting Fever Chart, the progress is back in the center of Green, exactly the state where the Project Manager wants the project to be.
Troubleshooting Labor Force Inefficiency
Clearly adding a new shift will involve additional cost to the project, which Project Managers will have to take into consideration. To gauge the impact on cost and work efficiency produced by the added shift, go to the Histogram View.
The blank space in each column show that now the labor force is not working efficiently. In an ideally realized project, the columns would be filled by solid black, to indicate full utilization of the labor force.
In a snapshot comparison with the previous version of the schedule shows that in the two-shift schedule, the labor force was visibly more efficient:
More columns in the two-shift schedule are filled with solid black, meaning they are working at or near full capacity, than the new three-shift schedule.
At this point, the Project Manager needs to perform a Cost-Benefit tradeoff analysis, to determine whether delivering on time is really worth the additional labor force costs.
A way to troubleshoot this problem with inefficiency is by setting a Capacity Routine for the resource being used. Meaning changing the number of workers needed to come in for the new third shift in order to achieve a compromise between labor needs and cost efficiency.
In the Resource tab, go to the resource for the project, then in the Properties section click on the Capacity tab:
Change the number under Shift 3 from 11 to 5. This means reducing the number of workers needed to come in from 11 to 5.
Now return to the Histogram view. The display shows that with 5 workers coming in for the third shift instead of 11, the efficiency has been much improved and most shifts are working at near full capacity. While the completion time benefit is reduced compared to having 11 workers for the third shift, still represents a significant improvement.
As a Project Manager, the above steps shows different ways to improve upon job-by-job and resource-by-resource edits to further optimize a schedule to overcome equipment or labor force delays.