Theory of Constraints scheduling: a printing industry case study
Companies producing custom job-shop or design-based work must often perform some amount of preparation work before any manufacturing steps can take place. In this environment, an ad hoc job scheduling system may develop out of necessity. The printing industry is such an example. In this environment, the first part of any job consists of preparing, proofing, and interacting with customers. This most closely approximates a project environment. After preparation, the second part of the job includes printing, collating, and binding. This is similar to a production environment. The dilemma faced by the company in this study was which method to use for their specific mixture of jobs. Among many scheduling method, the Theory of Constraints (TOC) proved to be the best fit for a small printing company. First, its project management and then production scheduling methods are described. Then, scheduling management tools are presented. Together these are synthesized into generic scheduling and management algorithms, which detail a series of steps that a company must complete to develop a robust scheduling mechanism. A printing company seeking to improve its operations portrays an example of this process. The benefits of this approach include shorter job length, greater on time completion, and increased capacity for new orders.