Scheduling of Multi-Skilled Workers

Optisol welding imageWorker skills are essential for almost every organization that produces products or provides services. Since labor usually makes a significant contribution to the cost of product / service, companies which simultaneously produce a variety of products or provides a variety of services using various skills try to have multi-skilled workers to achieve higher labor productivity.

Many companies simultaneously produce a variety of products or provides a variety of services using various skills. Due to high labor cost and possibly labor scarcity, they try to have multi-skilled workers for achieving higher labor productivity while meeting the demand. Optimal utilization of multi-skilled workers in production is very important for small companies to be competitive. The small companies cannot afford to employ many single-skill workers. If workload for each skill keeps changing over time due to the varying workload of the organization which can happen in many job shops, then also it is advantageous to have multi-skilled workers as illustrated in the diagram below.

Lean manufacturing methodology encourages training of workers for multiple skills in order to increase the flexibility of worker assignment, improve flow, lead times and throughput. According to Jun Nakamuro,

Taiichi Ohno’s focus shifted to providing the workforce with flexibility and ownership to better match cycle time to customer demands, particularly in high mix/low volume production line.

When workers possess multiple skills, the organization will have:

  • More flexibility to assign workers to operations
  • Less risk of facing undesirable situations in which workers of certain skills sit idle without work while operations wait for workers of some other skills
  • More productivity.

However, it is not easy to optimally assign workers of right skills to operations for getting maximum throughput. In a system with multiple shifts for workers, long operations may sometimes span over two or more shifts and right workers have to be assigned to such operation in each shift. The constraints on scheduling may include the availability of machines or tools for some operations, precedence relations among operations and certain time windows for performing some operations. All such issues make it more difficult to optimally utilize multi-skilled workers. Many scheduling tools do not handle the issues appropriately.

Proposed Solution

Optisol production image
Our software tools Schedlyzer and Schedlyzer Lite are very efficient for scheduling production / service systems involving multi-skilled workers subject to all relevant constraints. They can easily handle all the issues mentioned above and generate in a few seconds an optimal workload schedule and the corresponding dispatch lists for individual resources. To get optimal utilization of multi-skilled workers by our software, the users must specify resource requirement of operations in terms of skills rather than specific worker names.

Both Schedlyzer and Lite predict workflow, bottlenecks and order completion times in a realistic fashion. They also facilitate fast and extensive what-if analysis of schedules for any changes in the situation and supports proactive capacity planning. The what-if analysis function of our software enables managers to evaluate in advance the benefit of training a worker for additional skills. Schedlyzer Lite can directly take input from simple Excel files also. Our software helps the organization achieve the objective:

Get the maximum productivity from the existing workforce and find cost-effective opportunities for increasing the flexibility of workers.

Practical utility of a scheduling tool can be properly evaluated for any specific production unit by using it with real data for some days. For this reason, we freely offer duly configured, fully functional, 60-day trial copy of Schedlyzer Lite. Contact us for a free trial copy. Before giving the free trial copy, we would first present a live web demo of Schedlyzer Lite and configure the copy as required for your system. We would also offer you free help during trial runs.