Forward and Backward Scheduling Approaches: Which One is Better?

When it comes to scheduling challenges and missed deadlines, forward and backward scheduling is the two most important strategies. Poor scheduling can lead to workplace stress, low productivity, and customer problems. To provide top-notch customer service, you need to streamline workflow within your company. This article discusses how forward and backward scheduling approaches can help you achieve your goals. Finally, let us start with the scheduling system definition in the operations management system.
Babak Heydari

Babak Heydari

April 22, 2022

What is Production Scheduling?

Organizations use scheduling systems to properly allocate and manage their diverse resources, which clarifies the scheduling system concept for enterprises. Internal and external activity planning is handled by these programs, including arranging events, scheduling staff, reserving accommodations, managing daily activities, and maintaining a calendar. We should notice the importance of production scheduling in the operations of a manufacturing company. Every company must make sure that it is making the most use of its resources while executing orders on schedule. You must manage material assets, time, and production equipment to guarantee that expenses do not surge and customer expectations are met. Scheduling in operations management specifies when certain personnel should use specific equipment and supplies to complete a task. Companies can plan production, allocate resources, and make the required purchases to fulfill orders using either forward or backward scheduling approaches.

What are the Functions of Production Scheduling?

Production scheduling allows any company to improve the rate of on-time deliveries and maintain a competitive advantage in the market. An APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) system can assist you in creating the most efficient production schedule to meet your company's objectives. Manufacturing businesses worldwide use APS software to understand their operations better and increase their output. The following are some of the functions of operations scheduling: - Resource Allocation: Allocating resources to each task is the initial step of scheduling in the operations management system. - Job Sequence: The next step is to figure out what jobs should be done in what order on each resource. - Job Start and End Times: Then comes specifying the start and end time when the operations are scheduled in the correct order. - Maximum Usage: Resources are not being used to their most significant potential. Many resources are left idle for extended periods, which can be costly. - Machine Information: Scheduling operations ensure that you have up-to-date information about equipment and manufactured products. - Shop Floor Control: Having optimum operating schedules guarantees everyone knows when things should begin and end.


What are the Objectives of Production Scheduling?

The scheduling in operations management has some goals, which include: - Maximize Resource Usage: A manufacturing company's inadequate utilization of all resources is one area that incurs substantial expenditures. - Manufacturing Time Reduction: When you develop an excellent timetable, you should be able to lower your entire manufacturing time. - Inventory Minimization: Shorter manufacturing times usually imply fewer WIP inventory items awaiting resource availability. - Labor Efficiency: Good Scheduling in operations management decreases the number of back and forth, machine changeovers, and setup time. - Increased Customer Care: Having a well-organized production schedule benefits not just shop floor staff but also customer service representatives. - Increasing Profits: Having a well-organized timetable improves the number of things we can manufacture.

What are Scheduling Strategies?

Firms use various scheduling strategies and systems, ranging from no scheduling to highly sophisticated approaches. There are four types of strategies: - Detailed Scheduling: In a real-world manufacturing setting, detailed scheduling for specific works received from customers is impossible. Order changes, equipment breakdowns, and unforeseen events throw the plans off. - Cumulative Scheduling: Cumulative Scheduling of total workload is essential for long-term capacity planning. It may overburden the current era while under burdening future periods. It provides several tools for managing the workforce. - Cumulative Detailed: If operations management scheduling is divided between fixed and flexible sections, combining details is doable and practical. - Priority Decision Rules: Priority decision rules are scheduling guidelines that we can utilize alone or combined with one of the above tactics. These are important for lowering the inventory of WIP (Work-in-Progress).

All Types of Scheduling in Operations Management

You might prefer the first-come, first-served approach to scheduling if you only have one item to generate or your products require similar processing periods. It means what it says on the tin: Schedule manufacturing based on when a customer orders your product. However, if you have various items with varying manufacturing periods and deadlines, this method may be less effective in fulfilling deadlines because it is somewhat random. Forward and backward scheduling is two different scheduling types in the operations management system. Both types are discussed in this section.

Forward Scheduling | Forward and Backward scheduling

Forward scheduling refers to filling production orders as quickly as possible, based on the availability of the required resources. Tasks are scheduled in a row, in the order that they arrive, in a forward production schedule. The manufacturer gives the consumer an estimated delivery time that considers resource availability. Forward scheduling responds to the issue, "When can production begin as soon as possible?" Forward scheduling is a no-brainer, especially in serial manufacturing. When an order arrives, place it on top of the stack. It is simple to ensure that your workstations are filled. It is a straightforward planning method: the customer tells you what they require, and you inform them of the earliest potential delivery date. Even though this method is simple, it may not be particularly effective if you produce to order or according to a sales estimate. You may fill many orders long before they must be dispatched, occupying storage space and keeping equipment idle. In contrast, other orders may be late because the specified delivery date was not factored into the planning process.

What are the Benefits of Forward Scheduling?

The straightforward assumption of forwarding Scheduling has several compelling advantages, but it can also be a drawback in some situations. Forward scheduling has the following advantages: - It is simple to arrange manually; - As tasks are piled on each other, there is a high labor and machinery use rate. Forward scheduling also has the following drawbacks: - Higher inventory holding costs due to completed jobs earlier than necessary, with finished products requiring handling and storage space. - There are long lead times because production is constantly scheduled to capacity, which cannot be adjusted when new orders arrive. - There is a risk of material stock outs because materials are utilized ahead of time. When a high-priority order arrives unexpectedly, there may not be enough of the required supplies on hand to complete the request. - There is not much room for rush orders; one may throw the present manufacturing, procurement, and delivery timetable off.

When Does Forward Scheduling not Make Sense?

Forward scheduling is not appropriate for all projects; however, this method has several drawbacks; in some cases, backward scheduling is preferable. Forward scheduling does not guarantee a specific due date for a customer; in this case, reverse scheduling is preferred. Backward scheduling is also ideal if you want to create your items close to the deadline and save money on inventory. The followings are some of the most significant drawbacks of this scheduling method: - You may pay inventory charges to store the finished product before delivery if work is completed too early. - As jobs are added to the pipeline, allocating resources may result in material shortages for jobs with a higher priority or a shorter deadline. - If demand increases before you can refill supplies used on the forward-scheduled task, you may face material shortages; also, higher demand can result in longer lead times, negatively affecting lower-priority forward-scheduled jobs. - While advance scheduling helps bridge capacity gaps, too many of these jobs can make it difficult to reallocate resources when higher-priority jobs come up.


Backward Scheduling | Forward and Backward Scheduling

In backward or reverse scheduling, we arrange the orders according to the clients' stated delivery dates. When a customer places an order and specifies a deadline, manufacturing is scheduled to ensure that the order is delivered on time. Said backward scheduling answers the issue, "When can production begin at the latest to meet the deadline?" Manually ensuring that every activity is planned correctly, taking into account workstation loading, planned maintenance, holidays, and other factors. Companies that want to adopt this scheduling method should use a manufacturing ERP system that ensures that all orders are scheduled and filled on time. When a requested delivery date is not feasible, such as when resources are not accessible in sufficient quantity within the timeframe provided by the customer, the software will immediately alert you.

What are the Benefits of Backward Scheduling?

Backward scheduling is more complicated than forwarding scheduling due to the many moving pieces; however, employing it has some significant benefits; including: - Cheaper inventory levels because orders are executed precisely on time, resulting in lower inventory holding costs. - Reduced lead times and increased production efficiency due to effective capacity utilization. - From the consumer's standpoint, more flexible delivery times boost customer happiness. - It also comes with some disadvantages, including: - In an unforeseen event, there is insufficient buffer time, which may result in missed deadlines. - When suppliers are unavailable, bottlenecking occurs, yet the JIT method has dictated there should be minimal safety stock. We cannot resume production until materials are available.

What Are the Differences Between Forward and Backward Scheduling Approaches?

Forward and backward scheduling is distinct from each other. You start at the beginning in forward scheduling and work your way forward. Backward scheduling involves planning ahead of time from the anticipated completion date. Consider a scenario where a client requests that a heating and cooling firm service his furnace sometime during the first week of November. Forward scheduling allows a corporation to schedule an appointment as early in the week as feasible, freeing up additional slots for other clients. Backward scheduling means that the appointment will most likely be scheduled on the last day of that week, and any parts, such as furnace filters, will be ordered backward. To be more exact about forward and backward scheduling approaches: - If the in-house production time is insufficient, and the production order's start date is in the future from today's date, the system uses the routing to perform backward scheduling. As a result, everything is done by the client's agreed-upon delivery date. - If the in-house production period is long enough and the production order's start date is past today, the system uses the routing to execute forward scheduling. We specify a delivery date based on our preferences.

Which Scheduling Method is Better to Use: Forward and Backward Scheduling

Both ways of scheduling have advantages. Which one, though, should you pick? That relies totally on what you create and how you manufacture it. Make-to-stock manufacturers typically use forward scheduling, whereas make-to-order manufacturers, also those who make stock according to a sales projection, use backward scheduling. These two scheduling systems can, however, be combined. For example, companies might utilize a variety of ways depending on the situation. When many orders arrive unexpectedly, you can utilize backward scheduling to arrange them by due dates. When orders dry up for a spell, you might revert to forward scheduling to better use your production capacity and resources. Using MRP software is an excellent approach to making sense of the schedule. You can employ both ways simultaneously with an MRP or manufacturing ERP system, ensuring optimal scheduling at all times. The program takes care of all the moving pieces in the process, so you do not have to, giving you precise lead times and well-knit timetables.

Final Thoughts

Route optimization software enables you to adapt fast, allowing you to fulfill deadlines regardless of obstacles. For example, you can rapidly redistribute deliveries if a driver calls in ill and account for drivers returning for reloading. You can also use live tracking to see whether a driver deviates from their route due to construction or unanticipated circumstances through our software. If you are ready to use forward and backward scheduling in your business, use our 14-day free trial to see the outcome for yourself.

Stay connected

Receive the latest delivery industry news, straight to your inbox.

More posts

We’re a team of friendly engineers and creative designers making last-mile delivery more sustainable and accessible for all.