International application for assembly

International application for assembly

Planning tasks have different conditions for every application area, leading to a faster processing of bottlenecks thanks to a higher utilization.Typical bottlenecks result from holidays and illness or from a lack of properly qualified employees for a specific department. The international application is accompanied by travel readiness, valid VISA, tax liabilities due to long stays abroad, vaccinations, speaking abilities/translations… If necessary, also customs regulations, arrival and departure times, recording related work at the destination, foreign public holidays/plant closures, limited availability of adhoc required tools and materials.

Furthermore, the tour planning is optimized in order to achieve a favorable route through several successive missions. Sufficient time reserves when changing trains vs. too long stays at the airport.

Booking avoidance in no go areas for the accommodation planning, having short distances from the location of the application, or even getting a vehicle with driver. Overall, the often insufficient transportation, unreliability, safety for our technician (I think of the deadly taxi ride in Rio by a German Olympic coach). For us unfamiliar intransparence about prices and / or negotiation over a price before start.

Behavior in other religious cultures. Timely planning due to family members.

The most important thing: the entire time zone problem with reachability to the center, the jet lag (flying to the east is more difficult than flying to the west). Information about changes of dates and routes of the person who flies and the contact person on site.

Die Unterkunftsplanung, um kurze Wege zum Einsatz vor Ort zu haben, nicht in no go areas zu buchen, ggf. ein Fahrzeug mit Fahrer zu besorgen. Insgesamt ist die oft unzureichende Transportmöglichkeit, Unzuverlässigkeit, Sicherheit für unseren Techniker (ich denke an die tödliche Taxifahrt in Rio von einem deutschen Olympia Trainer). Für uns ungewohnte Intransparenz über Preise bzw. Verhandlung über einen Preis vor Antritt.

The accommodation arrangement, that aims to offer shortcuts to use onsite, makes sure you don’t book in no-go-areas and it helps you to get a vehicle with driver. Our technicians often have to face inadequate means of transportation, unreliability, unsafety situations (I’m thinking about the deadly taxi ride for a German Olympic coach in Rio). For us it’s very unusual to find intransparency about prices or to negociate over a price before the start of a journey.

So that are my own experiences of deployment planning in Arabia, Asia, Australia and Oceania, North and South America.

From our customers I know that infoBoard is used both centrally with a planning board, but also decentrally on several planning boards. That is when the resources are not only distributed, but also separated by subject area. But in special cases also exchange staff. One of our customers schedules 380 planners for 800 installers worldwide for plants in 180 countries.

Internationalen Einsatz von Monteuren planen mit infoBoard

Plan fitters of international application with infoBoard

But a number of people are already planning on a planning boardl: the same resources for local processing in the workshop, but also for assembly work abroad. Two planners can view the “your” personnel tasks separately on the same planning board via the infoBoard object filter.

How to implement infoBoard in a globally distributed organization? That was the question I was asked recently.

The software is international: from Christchurch to Melbourne and Perth Australia, through China and Thailand, from Sweden to Cape Town, New Jersey to Los Angeles, 550 customers in 30 countries work with infoBoard, which is translated into 15 languages and includes 35 country holidays.

InfoBoard covers the following four areas: infoBoard USA LLC serves North and South America from the US, infoBoard Europe GmbH Europe and Africa from Germany and the Netherlands, the time zones in India, Southeast Asia and China, South Korea and Japan are supported by infoBoard International Co. Ltd. Bangkok. Australia, New Zealand and Oceania are managed by infoBoard Autralia (Qmani Melbourne).

As every complex task is split into workable parts. The best way to speak of a live model is:

– Phase 1 Objective and definition of project scope, definition of phase 2 members, definition of external support requirements with infoBoard International services

– Phase 2 Implementation phase with the project members, specification of the scope of application, definition of the workflow, development of the import interfaces, definition of required, further components necessary for success. Limitation to the Pareto rule: with 20% functionality 80% of the task can be done. 2-4 months.

– Phase 3 fine-tuning in all areas: translation of the manual, training documents (video), check of the national holidays, check of the postal codes, check of the software translation, check the on-site technique, setting up an “infoBoard – in our company – wiki” Quality assurance. 2 – 4 months.

– Phase 4 Rollout and training by country. The company-specific manual, the handling of infoBoard, is communicated to the keyuser. An infoBoard FirstLevel Hotline has been set up for the new users in the control center (assembly planning) for one year.

– Phase 5 Review and further development of processes and areas of application after 2 years

It is best to use our software to plan the introduction of infoBoard as a project. The first transformation process starts here, all learn and use 6,000 functions of infoBoard as required. All activities and dates can be coordinated here. The infoBoard service is set up centrally for decentralized use. For the kickoff, this can also take place in an environment externally hosted by infoBoard – just implemented for a Swiss machine manufacturer for printing – (reference on demand).

In order to be able to experience the full technological scope, typical web applications, typical evaluations like infoBoard BusinessController “foreign inserts”,

infoBoard BusinessController Statistik: Häufigkeit des Einsatzes nach Ländern gruppiert

infoBoard BusinessController statistic: Frequency of application grouped by coutnry

the mobile infoBoard server components for Android and IOS (Apple) infoBoard apps

infoBoard Mobile iPhone und Android App

infoBoard Mobile iPhone and Android App

and Outlook / Exchange synchronisation

iBE_iPad_Monat

are ready and provided to the project memebers to learn their use and adapt it to their specific benefits.

There’s also the infoBoard Enterprise Edition with infoBoard Map module for tour planning . A video about infoBoard Map module for a South Tyrolean window and door assembly team is on YouTube. The format (layout) of the infoBoard assembly planning results from the company structure, for example, its own branch offices and partners on site. Extensive experience can be found in this pictures pool. In Phase 4, the partners get a web view restricted to their appointments.

 

infoBoard Map Modul: Übergabe der Adressdaten aus Plantafel auf mobile Geräte per E-Mail und Routenplanung mit Google Maps

infoBoard Map module: Transfer the address data from the planning board to mobile devices via e-mail and route planning with Google Maps

In the end you have the great benefit: deadlines calibrated, employees better informed and satisfied, planners relieved and empowered, increased customer expectations.

Certificate: Global Software

Expertise: worldwide planning competence with infoBoard – The electronic planning board

Consulting contract for visualization solutions with infoBoard: with large, German automobile manufacturers

10 years of proven standard software for business planning with 550 customers translated into 15 languages in 30 countries, with 35 country holidays and 6,000 functions plus > 60 modules, open interfaces.

infoBoard Projektplanung Chinesisch

infoBoard Chinese projectplanning

Warum können ERP-Hersteller nicht eine bessere Plantafel anbieten?

1.  In general

The best answer to the question “What can infoBoard do better than our ERP software” is: “why couldn’t the ERP manufacturer show you the better solution (not promise, not announce, but show)?”.

Answer:

Because ERP manufacturers can offer only a maximum of one visualization or a hard-to-manage interface to display the orders’ content since its structures have no flexibility.

Why it is so, is explained in point 3.

2 You have legitimate expectations of a planning interface!

2.1 What are your requirements?

In 2011, more than 3 million search terms were worldwide added to this field, 700,000 alone from the German-speaking world and approx. 20,000 employees are currently looking for a better solution for their company’s resource planning.

First message: you are not alone!

All clients have specific software needs that will help them plan better:

  1. Clarity
    2. Flexibility
    3. Good intelligibility
    4. Simultaneous planning by several employees

Of all 20,000 employees, about 10% use only the head (experience and verbal announcements), 20% handwritten notes or 60% MS Excel.

Practical example:

In an 8,000 employee company with 800 MS Project licenses, 100 licenses of special Excel software and an “unlimited” number of SAP “planning boards”, only 1 employee uses the SAP planning board. His needs for flexible planning are so small that he is the only one who is satisfied, in fact only 0.001% of planners use the SAP solution.

All other employees with planning tasks have “higher” expectations for a planning system.

We also learn that only  1% of a machine manufacturers’ employees has planning tasks with its own fitters. Planning, by nature, only affects a few work places, because it is mainly a service before a job. With infoBoard, planning can now be handled centrally by many decentralized employees. The production data collection can be comfortably visualized and since on time planning tasks add value to the operations the company’s profit will increase.

With the introduction of infoBoard in this environment internal central services such as construction and external services such as assembly and maintenance can be planned for the first time.

In addition to SAP and CRM systems, a simple, clear planning tool becomes a company’s third major standard enterprise application, which can keeps a total of 1,200 different softwares in use. SAP definitely cannot do that.

3 What are the structural differences between ERP and a planning board?

3.1 What “can” an ERP software do?

3.1.1 State of affairs

Often not all modules of the manufacturer are in use and this is linked to a lack of benefits or too high costs or too much change effort that have although not  justified it yet. After all, people want to work and concentrate in their business field and not  “suffocate” under software projects.

An ERP system contains orders. Very often it also contains the hourly billing, sometimes also the return flow from the through scanner production data acquisition, industrial terminals or machine data.

Often ONLY the data describing the order is available, sometimes also work plans are carried out, but mostly against “unlimited resources”.

If the ERP system has already the degree of maturity which takes into account the capacities of the company, machine pools are usually created so that the total capacity in a particular sector doesn’t exceed in the weekly amount.

At this point the system’s limit is reached: a statement about who what where it’s not enough, a visualization is necessary.

3.1.2 Visualization in an ERP software

At a first glance it can seem very nice. By I can tell you: it’s mostly not.

Why is that so?

Because the ERP manufacturer has invested little time for this mean. After all, there are only one or a few planning tasks in a company so far.

Quick shots and long-lasting efforts did not provide a satisfactory solution. Customers were not satisfied with these approaches. The business is unsatisfactory: the willingness to pay the high price is low, everyone wants it differently, but you have to also respect the computer limits.

By the way the companies do not want to increase planning costs!

Perhaps the need for planning has to be really understood first. This matter has been brought up at the last quality certification, but with the promise that something new would “come”.

What does this cost? Often the offers are in this price range: visualization 10,000 euro, control desk 30,000 euro, more extensive visualizations with also graphical user interfaces up to 100,000 euro, special solutions (SAP individual pieces) up to 500,000 euro.

Out of 10 SAGE software customers, 3 of them want to spend a maximum of 2,000 euro and would happily settle for a simple solution, 2 want a high-quality control center for 30,000 euro, 5 customers buy nothing because they weren’t offered the simple and flexible solution they were looking for. 

By the way in the long run hardly anybody will use the solution they bought: the simple version does not reflect reality and does not provide a good user interface.

The technical and organizational conditions of the control center are high and are well suited only for assembly line production, they arent’t suited at all for individual production.

3.2 Natural limits

At the beginning both ERP manufacturer and customer expect to find the perfect solution.

However, the task description of the planner is not to keep the system in order, but to have the orders processed by the resources of the company and to assure on- time deliveries. Here is a discrepancy between ERP manufacturer and management on one hand and the practical part on the other.

But now all information is stored centrally in complex contexts in the ERP system’s database. The preservation of the intergrity of this stock justifies the cost of the ERP system. There is also real, quality programming work in it.

Now we want to “simply” move over to a graphical interface and be able to share our work.

Because until now, all conditions had to be checked every time one more time in order to mantain data consistent. All settings had to be reinstalled, nonetheless the user requirements go further in the planning compared to the previous structures of the ERP system map. In addition, some functions such as printing all relevant forms are triggered and customers will be in that case notified.

The machines and employees’ downtime should be taken into consideration, if possible. These are boundary conditions that are not included in the ERP system!

3.3 What problems does an ERP software with flexible planning have?

The structures of the complex developed ERP system and the necessary consistency of the data do not allow a simple, fast and flexible change.

Proof: see practical example from N° 1.1

Proof N° 2: every year, SAP purchases 300 pieces of magnetic plaiting boards for the market’s wall. A planning board manufacturer personally told me in 2007.

3.3.1 Risk during the launch of an ERP planning board

It happens often that after the launch of an ERP system, you have to spend, of course, a lot of time on recording matters and suddenly you end up spending up to 1 hour a day on this system only. It’s frustrating.

The operator filters are input-oriented. In the widespread small solution called Lexware, it takes 20 minutes to visually examine the impact of a modification such as an appointment’s transfer.

The risk is that you will end up having to plan it all with your head, paper and pencil.

If the expectations of the user are not met or the planning time becomes too high, planning software will not be used. I can assure you that!

On the planning front is “tuned with the feet”.

4 This is the reason why the electronic planning boards exist

infoBoard is an operational system that aims to solve a worldwide issue :
30% represented by non value-adding activities in the company

The graphical user interface makes operations during the planning phase easy and comfortable.

The storage of the planning information in a central database offers, in contrast to wall charts and Excel, an up-to-the-second visualization for any decentralized location.

4.1 What can a planning board software do?

To explain it, the term must be defined in relation to its operational use.

There is a lot of information that have to be put together in order to present and communicate a planning result.

Some of the most importanto ones are mentioned below:

–  infoBoard should provide an overview.
– Therefore shapes, colors, symbols and abbreviations are used
– which are work as abbreviated information on infoBoard and transform give the reader an idea of what  is urgent + important, important or not important

4.1.1 Planning definition in relation to operational planning

– “Planning is the mental anticipation of future actions, you weigh up different alternatives and choose the most favorable way. Planning therefore means making decisions that effect the future and that define the operational process in all its parts, as a whole.”

– “Planning in a purpose-oriented, rational and systematic way to process  acquired information. Luck and intuition should be almost totally eliminated while realizing the programs under consideration”.

Four-step process of planning:

  • Level: collecting information
  • Stage: Drawing up alternative plans
  • Stage: Choosing an alternative
  • Level: Revision

4.1.1 Planning means: decide!

Planning also means, at the end, deciding:

If you find it difficult to make a decision, it is usually because there are too many tasks or too complicated interrelations between them.
“Complicated interrelations” mean that you have a large number of alternatives to choose from or alternatives with a variety of properties that need to be weighed.

This way as human resources, we make better decisions in the company, without having to write a program for it:

– Collecting information: everything is on infoBoard
– Determine alternatives: which are available between A, B and C?
– Write down conditions: each decision has conditions that must be always fulfilled. An alternative that does not fulfill them will be eliminated.
– Write down criteria points: what is desirable / necessary
– Evaluate alternatives: with the previous criteria you could name the framework  that was important for your decision. Evaluate how well each alternative meets the criteria given.
– Determine the winner: based on the previous evaluations you can calculate the winner.

An example

– Conditions are for example: promised delivery dates, an achieved status like “material delivered”
– Criteria are: “which order can be finished now”
– “Which important customers (orders) should be give special attention to”
– “Which orders can be billed”

4.1.3 Desperately looking for

A measuring system for time control of the daily operations of those responsible for production and delivery

Worldwide Fact is:

30% of added value per employee is missing, because executives do not plan and steer properly. This costs about 10,000 euro per employee per year.

The lack

So far, there is a lack of meaningful figures for the daily planning and control of resources.

An operative management system for daily planning, control and reports with target is missing.

The strategy

To achieve the goal savings, daily operations must be improved by installing end-to-end management systems, efficient processes, fixed responsibilities, and appropriate training programs.

The actual situation

The follow up management process has to be reorganized. An evolution from passive to pro-active follow-up management is possible by implementing a system that actively tracks and updates ongoing supplements.

Afterwards it is necessary to increase the efficiency and utilization of the employees. The best way to that is to install a planning and measuring system for time control of daily operations. Three key functions are designed for this purpose: planning, performance and utilization

 

4.2 The brain processes images faster

It has been proved that with infoBoard are used parts of the brain that scientific studies define as key skills such as:

The effect of mental processing

Conscious data processing far more limited than the unconscious one

In numbers:

– 11 million bits per second can be recorde

-Only 40 bits per second can be processed consciously while the rest is processed unconsciously

Consequence: In terms of information recording, speech is far less efficient than taking pictures

Another important difference:

– Images can be processed holistically

– Language can be processed only sequentially, in small units of meaning

Consequence:

– Images are processed much faster than speech

– “Screenshots in the brain”

Other characteristic of image processing:

– Image processing as an analog and spatial logic

– Spatial arrangement of the figurative elements crucial for the associations

this will cause

Memory effect:

Images are far better to be memorized than language

– Studies show: test people were shown 2500 pictures and even after three days they could still remember over 90% of the pictures

4.2.1 The effect of imagery (Picture Superiority Effect)

The fact that images can be better memorized, stored and retrieved than text can therefore stimulate employees. The superiority of images over texts is based on two factors:

(1) Images are easier to record and recipients remember them more easily.

(2) Their recording happens mostly in an unconscious way.

This is the reason why there are rules for an effective image layout that aims to achieve an optimal communication effect. According to Werner Kroeber-Riel: “Pictures are screenshots into the brain. To take a picture of moderate complexity, it takes only one to or two seconds. This is due to the fact that pictures are taken and processed mostly in an automatic way with little mental effort. Because of their effortless recording, images are therefore especially suitable for reaching little-involved, passive recipients and for leading them to acquire information. “

The processing of images by the human brain works in a holistic and analogous way.                                                                                                                                     The processing of linguistic devices, on the other hand, and especially written information is usually sequential and digital, so it must be processed in a linear sequence of symbolic information, according to logical-analytical rules and translated into contexts of meaning. With holistic, analogous processing of images I mean that images can be quickly captured by a fleeting impression and recognized in their basic features.

Even without a close look, a first impression of the picture emerges, which can be considered as an emotional entry during the process of perception. This peripheral stimulus allows the brain to compare what it sees with stored internal schema images, allowing a rapid mental processing of the images.

The analogue image process is a processing pattern where an image of an item can be so accurate that while looking at it you get the feeling you are looking at the item itself. This also results in better storage of the pictorial information.

The Picture-Superiority-Effect can also be transferred to complex contents. Illustrations are perceived faster and people remember them better than linguistic abstract representations. Above all, images’ power of influencing is based on the fact that images are perceived as reality. Images are capable of creating a second, fictitious reality.

4.2.2 Opportunities

With infoBoard all visualization needs are fulfilled; more than what you can achieve with MS Excel.

Effects of planning changes are automatically enforced with all dependencies in one step and no information is lost. This is not possible with MS Excel.

Comprehensibility: the actions described above can also be done with MS Project. The viewer can although see only one project at the time and cannot estimate the impact it will have on resources, since more planners have access to the same resources.

Planning has not an end in itself, but must be communicated to the other “planners”. Planning must therefore be updated (real-time) and must be comprehensible to all individuals which are mostly commercial employees. MS Project fails to do this.

4.3 Effects of the introduction of a planning software in a company

-Centralized filing and centralized information
-Less information deficits
-More reliability towards employees and customers
-Less hectic decisions
-More structural flexibility instead of adhoc flexibility in a chaotic system
-Less trouble for employees and customers
-Constant updates about “how my company is going”
-After climbing this “mountain”: new horizons for new solutions
-Application of process analysis becomes possible
-Application in more business sectors

5 The process of decision making

5.1. Project: introduction of a planning software in my company

It is very important that the requirements are written down if the planning tasks are specific.

But you do not have to formulate any requirements if you want to provide a wastebasket (where not only paper ends up!). See point 5.1.1.

5.1.1 Situation 1: Do I have standard needs?

If you have, then choose infoBoard as your company’s electronic planning board software. Performance is excellent, has great potential and has a reasonable price.

5.1.2 Situation 2: Do I have special needs?

In that case, I should be able to quickly write down what these special needs are.    I have to find someone at the ERP manufacturer who understands me, I have to believe what he tells me, I will then I get a cost estimate and finally a project will be set up for me.

The risk is that after 1-2 years I realize that I did not know how complicated the implementation of my requirements would have been and that the ERP manufacturer did not foresee how complicated the user was.

5.1.3 Therefore the solution for special needs is:

In order to map my special requirements and to get to know my needs, I choose infoBoard as a project-accompanying tool.

On infoBoard I can display everything I need within 2 days. I am flexible in the planning. I can show this to my boss and, if necessary, also to the ERP manufacturer.

Each session is effective because we “have it in front of our eyes” during meetings. Each project member has access to the tool. People do not discuss things theoretically, but try them physically. We find similarities and agree on a workable planning.

Everyone understands me and my needs, we are all on the same level.

The description of my requirements is complete. I didn’t forget anything.

It is also important to write down which information I need from the ERP system.  The amount is usually smaller than what I expect. I can evaluate what is really necessary to exchange information successfully between different systems.

The risks I am taking with the following steps is small.

I get an offer from the ERP manufacturer, which contains all the requirements that I now know I need.

I decide on the basis of a functioning planning, whether I should purchase an interface or accept an expensive offer from the ERP manufacturer, which repays the costs with a resignation clause in case of non-fulfillment.

At the same time, I think about whether I can spend an year on this project.

5.2 Project “Implementation of a planning board software in my company”

60 days are needed for a systematic planning with graphical tools

The first step is to agree with the management board about the advantages of a graphic planning system in the company: decision yes / no

Second step: decide with the IT to install a test system through infoBoard

Third step: arrange a 2-day in-house workshop

This 2 days workshop help to develop a better functionality in the company

Then 40 days are necessary to implement what it has been learned so far

The project requires a small circle of participants (1 -3 employees)

Ask questions about infoBoard

Report to executives

Throughout the project give clarifications about the relationship ERP interface / infoBoard

Final report and presentation of the experience

Purchase decision: yes / no

 

6 Management Summary “What can infoBoard do better than SAP”?

6.1 A planning interface should be up to the responsabilities given to it

With infoBoard, the planning can be recorded and processed mostly automatically with little mental effort, in just two seconds thanks to the pictorial representation. Planning alternatives are visualized in real time. This helps to make quick decisions. Change options in the planning are flexible and change takes place easily and immediately thanks to the graphical functions. All planning boards in the company are automatically updated by push technology.

Fundamental actions such as understanding relationships fast, making decisions quickly to solve problems and immediate implementation in the planning system.

6.2 The right decision for a planning tool

With infoBoard, the planner can himself form an accurate scheme of order processing.

The tool is “off the shelf” to buy and can be ready to use within 1 hour. The price and the performance are given in advance.

An interface for data from the ERP system is already available to clients. The ERP manufacturer has to write out and transfer more or less 5 attributes per order.

The complex structures of an SAP Enterprise Resource Planning System and the required consistency of data do not allow flexible side-by-side planning, so that complex plausibility can be maintained.

The ERP manufacturer will not show what expected; an all-inclusive integrated solution, but a partner solution. It has to be customized, but this cannot fulfill even the smallest expectations of the planner.

The graphical representation may seem at first like a planning board, but flexible changes aren’t in anyway possible.

The ERP system must be kept consistent at every step, but it does not contain all the information pf the planning board. The planner must personally consider what effects changes could have, which often have not easy to manage forma such as text-based forms

Support? Wrong!

Normally in this case you get in contact with someone with no experience of a planning board, who doesn’t know about dates or fixed prices. The risk remains at a high final price for the client alone.

6.3 Successful introduction of infoBoard or failed ERP planning board project

The infoBoard implementation is sure to be successful, inexpensive and quick.

Only when infoBoard is introduced can the customer identify and articulate his actual needs and present 6 months later to the ERP manufacturer – if desired by the manager- a complete specification for the submission of an additive system from an SAP partner. The person responsible for planning would not be able nor would she/ he have the time to do so.

SAP planning board: if the planner cannot work quickly with the provided tool, he will not use it. It is measured by the final result and a correct planning. The project would have failed and the intended benefits in daytime operation would not have been achieved.

What do you think ?

infoBoard und Value Streams analyses

Huh, what does that have to do with an electronic planning board then?

Well… Poorly utilised time, idle times and waiting times are defined as ‘waste‘. You may, therefore, want to consider your business processes to identify and eliminate this wastage by redesigning your workflow into better processes. And that works best with infoBoard’s sample order system. A small business operations function is ‘create sample order from planning object group’.

Now, however, we would like to identify the entire business process chain through several independent units. Conflicts between departments resulting from moving appointments are pointed out and finally corrected.

In a BusinessController application, detailed tasks from several planning boards are combined ino individual blocks. When given buffer times are exceeded, the overlap time is visually depicted as a problem. They also prompt the sending of an automated email notification.

It is possible to quantify the effect of delays with the agreed value stream. For example, one day of short-term delays costs 15 000 EUR, whereas one day of long-term delays costs xxx EUR. The delays are no longer considered as ‘normal’ but rather as ‘subject to change’.

Workshop orders with infoBoard’s ‘Pool Order’ form

Scenario: Internal service providers within the company (eg. a workshop) receives orders through various different methods, such as by email, telephone, on-call responses or from SAP systems. Often, the orders would be expected to meet minimum requirements, and a performance record or even an SAP number may later be required.

According to increasing numbers of requests from customers, we have created a form creator. From this standard template, forms can be created: one form for each planning board. There are approximately 40 input fields available for transfer. Tooltip text is available, as is the enforcement of ‘mandatory fields’.

If a form field is used to access the user log, the customer can see the list of all of their orders when they call up the infoBoard Web system. A filter can also be used to make the list shorter.

A traffic-light system indicates the status of the job. Red is not yet scheduled, yellow is a scheduled date, and green – finished.

These entries can be printed by the workshop in the standard way using individual plugins.

The infoBoard user-defined attributes, value tables and type definitions are implemented.

Easily import Excel files into infoBoard

In the “Handbook for Software Entrepreneurs”, the connectivity of a software product is paramount when bringing it to the global market.

Therefore, using the infoBoard synchronisation server, we have offered synchronisation from ERP data from day one. Here, we were looking at simplicity and comprehensibility, but also had to offer the full range of import possibilities. This makes it difficult. As a result, we send typical import data to interested parties as Excel files. With the infoBoard converter, we can offer to automatically read data from .csv files without ERP programs.

But on a basic level, most planners work with self-made Excel spreadsheets, lists, and matrices, both with and without macros. It’s amazing how much time is invested in planning. There is no other way to keep track of an order’s status in a comprehensible manner.

With so many different Excel spreadsheets used for planning, the focus is suddenly not on increased connectivity with ERP-Systems, but rather on managing a large number of Excel spreadsheets. This is a serious task for the software producer.

Over the past twelve months, our developers have done more than ever before with regards to Excel modules, add-ins, and uploads over web pages. This proves another aspect of the simplicity of working with infoBoard – easing the workload of the user.

Every month, we import around thirty new Excel “Example 5” spreadsheets for prospective customers and take screenshots of the generated planning boards. We offer these easy Excel imports to our prospective Internet customers almost immediately. Surprisingly, multi-dimensional thinking, and respectively the presentation of tasks in a two-dimensional manner seems to be difficult for a significant number of people. This is accompanied by an inability to imagine the necessary structures of an Excel spreadsheet in an abstract way.

We have programmed an Excel add-in, which is able to import (and remove) data from an Excel sheet to an existing infoBoard planning board. Here, the parts lists are copied from a CAD program and then the work is distributed to machines with an estimated time.

A great variant is an Excel plugin for the infoBoard client. In the sample orders, all items with the necessary work procedures are stored. The (weekly) production log is exported from SAP to Excel. This Excel file with the item numbers and the number of pieces produced is read by the plugin and automatically creates the item sample orders with SAP production order numbers.

Do you see the advantages that the idea of an ideal, automated interface presents? Simple Excel imports are like “Bread for the World”. They satisfy hunger.

We look forward to receiving your Excel spreadsheets.

Why is infoBoard better?

In a typically American way, the usual questions is asked after two sentences here. We are in Chicago at the biggest trade show for manufacturing and are trying to be cool. The usual “how are you?” always slows me down. After four days, I answer “I am good”. Modesty is not a virtue here: let me tell you quite clearly, why you should be interested in Europe’s number one professional scheduling and capacity-planning tool.

Because infoBoard has spoken to over 20,000 respondents responsible for professional planning and has satisfied their needs by programming over 6,000 innovative solutions to problems. Because we have not looked away anywhere, making it a unique tool to have.. Because the interface is easy to understand and navigate and because, as well as looking beautiful, we are the only company to offer our second USP: the Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) tool.

Oh yes, that is what I thought when I looked at the monitor! Easy!

After that has been explained, I now show our SmartWatch application and the two visitors are dreaming with us. Their enthusiasm is a reward for our many years of effort and, for a moment, America is giving something back to Old Europe.

Another visitor thinks that an integrator of engine data in the South Hall would also have an intelligent system. But he brought that from Germany twenty years ago. Oh! The arguments with the algorithm – the algorithm that can calculate and place everything perfectly. Not marketable! “Please talk to the people responsible for scheduling. Over 10 years, only 2 out of 20,000 wanted a completely automated planning system.” – all from from touch of a button. The other 19,998 wanted software that supported their thinking, allowing them to plan as they like, quickly and easily. That is the way it is.

I receive an email from an employee working at a US automotive supplier operating globally. The company is involved in re-manufacturing and is an OEM supplier of brakes and axles. His colleague would have taken a prospectus from the show, and they want to introduce a SCADA system with around six million operations a year at this location and further expansion planned at other locations. Can we arrange a demo “early next week”? Of course! But this is where cultures clash. I would like to prepare well for the appointment, whereas he would like to have it come to him. Instead of a concise, structured Excel table, he sends me prose. With my American ‘neighbour’ at the stand next to me, I analyse the text, extract the relevant information and build a five-columned Excel spreadsheet myself. Imported into infoBoard, made screenshots of the planning board, used the web reporting tools and evaluated the processes using BusinessController. Deadline for the demo: next Monday at 10am EST. Just how I need it. Concrete. Results oriented.

After the exhibition, we take the rented bicycles along the waterfront of Michigan Lake to the city, turn off the Chicago River into the city centre. We find a nice steak restaurant with a view overlooking the river. The sun still offers warmth and the strong winds cool our backs (yes, Chicago: The Windy City). The $80 listed turns into an unbelievable $150 – and not only because of tax and 15% service charges. Who can actually afford that? We live in Germany in a very different system! Not as much net cash but cheaper living costs.

infoBoard and Material Planning

The infoBoard planning board improves the achievement of objectives in the magic square of production.

The Magic Square of Production includes: short cycle times, adherence to schedules, a high workload capacity and low stock levels.

The target of low stock levels seemed to play no role at all in infoBoard’s first ten years. Warehouse administration programs should take care of that.

But on another level, thanks to the “just in time” idea that has finally been fully implemented, material availability is suddenly a hot topic for infoBoard.

We have, for example, recently been able to help companies with a strong dependence on material availability. Because the material for a ship’s turbochargers has to be put in the oven in time for chemical immersion, the carbon wheels have to be just-in-time from the deep-freeze store 36 hours before the start of the production of carbon fibers for the aircraft industry within 72 hours. infoBoard plugins ensure that planning is monitored and colours are changed after a certain time.

 

In plant engineering, many parts are ordered externally. This means that assembly can only be carried out when all of the parts have arrived and been approved by the quality control department. But how does the information about the order and the arrival of parts get from the ERP System to the infoBoard? How can it be ensured that it is ordered on time? infoBoard has to specify the dates. Here, the reversal of the pattern orders is of new importance. The ordering process prior to production is calculated by infoBoard! Delivery changes are implemented automatically thanks to the infoBoard Converter and Synchronisation Server. The order numbers are still not known at the time when the order and deadlines are generated. Therefore, we offer a web application to transfer this information over.

Now, objects delayed beyond their latest delivery date will flash red on the planning board. With this new visualisation of delivery date / milestone overshoots, a perfect interaction between the system is possible.

Another challenge: on building sites, the decisive factor in relation to profit is adherence to the expected number of working hours and designated amounts of material. Is it possible to plan the delivery of construction site materials with infoBoard?

Yes! Instead of paperwork on the material row under the project (see “simple project planning” with infoBoard).Schedule deliveries with appointments, quantities etc. in the userdefined attributes page, and create a billing sheet for the construction site using an infoBoard BusinessController Web application. It doesn’t have to be an ERP system as well.

Company-wide means inter-departmental!

At the Chillventa trade fair in Nuremberg, an infoBoard customer calls me: R&D, Design, Workshop and Production have very different requirements, meaning that the long processing chains for the following departments can no longer be logically combined due to the long distances and time sequences. Their needs are too varied, too different. Therefore, the planning boards also have to look different. Of course the orders are joined together but…

Talk to the manufacturer! We are developing new functions! Over 500 features every year.

How can infoBoard help? With a connected infoBoard SyncTool Server, tasks can be placed on transfer lines and delivered to other departments with other infoBoard planning boards. The planning objects are synchronised by the unique IDs: in the case of time shifts, the first planning board will be automatically informed and adjusted accordingly.

Why can I answer this so quickly: because this need is now being described to us increasingly often. The large companies are organised into individual departments, accepted as special requirements. Because these departments can present themselves better than “the without”, and management now wants the whole profit from the use of infoBoard. This is also our experience: growing companies need infoBoard to grow sensibly and quickly.

Another method of working with several planning board: You can drag and drop planning objects with complete contents from one to the other with several open plant panels.

By the way, we also use emails with fixed keywords to automatically generate planning objects. And from our CRM system, we generate new planning objects for reprints at the push of a button. Contact us!

A growing company with increased cases numbers, more employees, and more branches needs a reliable organization.

If you have any questions, we will soon see a photo gallery and maybe even a video here. Stay tuned!

Production needs: Backwards planning

An infoBoard partner in Europe asked me to help a prospective customer with his planning needs. It regarded constructing complex aluminium components for the train industry.

Thanks to the Austrians (see blog entry), infoBoard has backwards scheduling in its sample order system. But how can ten different sub-project tasks with different dependencies be planned backwards? Can the complex sequences be entered into the sample order form in a timely manner and be at all understandable?

Procedure: The ten different sub-projects are imported from Excel and a new planning board with all of the necessary resources and ten projects is created. I then solve the grouping of the sub-projects step by step, and integrate them into the first project with “Edit Object Group”. I can also set additional dependencies with the “Edit Predecessors” tool.

In Enterprise Edition, you can use the “Create sample order from object group” function. Right-click on the finished project group and choose this option, and a sample order with all dependencies of the ten projects will be created.

infoBoard Musterprojekt

infoBoard Sample Order

Now I have the complex project listed in the sample order panel and can reverse plan this from the desired end date.

infoBoard Musteraufträge rückwärts einplanen

infoBoard backwards planning of sample orders

That is something we can do again and again. In this image, we can see a combination of both critical path representations (red lines on the planning diagram) and critical chain paths (CCPM).

infoBoard Kritischer Pfad und Kritische Kette in einer Darstellung

infoBoard ‘Critical Path’ and ‘Critical Chain’ representation

Realistic deadlines with the resources available now appear.

infoBoard Fertigung mit mehreren Bauteilen

infoBoard Production with several components

The planning board should appear without arrows for employees.

infoBoard Fertigung mit mehreren Bauteilen ohne Verbindungspfeile

infoBoard Production with several components (without arrow connections)

These realistic deadlines are also needed, for example, in the food industry: numerous projects with project planning tools fail due to not taking into account holiday time. infoBoard can help here as well, because infoBoard records all projects.

But how can a project manager control a project, when they cannot see it alone? For example, with the ‘Print Gantt Diagram’ feature – now with the new object filter! With this, all other projects will be hidden from the planning board. Yet another advantage for realistic scheduling!

 

Striving for better decisions

What is the core of business planning?

You have to make the best decisions for an uncertain future. To be able to make realistic predictions. How we would wish for that! Would we all not make optimal decisions if we knew what was going to happen in the near future. Decisions would then no longer be a stab in the dark.

It all comes back to the question: What is to be done? How should it be done? When should it be done? Who should do it, and where?

All questions can be answered by the planning board.

Through pictoral, schematic images, the sensory abilities of human intelligence are stimulated, which are faster than the logical processing of terms (words). Processing then takes place holistically and not in logical chains.

Those who use infoBoard, use technology to make good decisions for production processes today, to see their effects immediately, and to communicate these effects in the face of an uncertain future.

In the decision-making process, the imagination is stimulated, allowing you to find new solutions to your problems. This allows us to explore new methods and find even better solutions.

Better solutions reduce opportunity costs as well as operating costs, avoiding or even improving peaks, and achieving an even and consistent utilisation of existing resources – possibly increasing output..

This is the main reason why infoBoard is mainly found in growing company, who cannot effectively manage their organic growth without infoBoard.That is why you are giving away market opportunities, and only work effectively enough, when you plan your production through Excel.

Why are decisions important?

How do you prepare decisions? Why do you prepare decisions? You are respondng to a new situation, and should go through a decision-making process such as this:

– A timely detection of problems

– Analysis of these problems

– Formulate solutions

What do customers say?

A customer reported the following after using infoBoard for four months (translated from German):

“We actually only wanted infoBoard temporarily to improve our growth phase. We’ve been implementing an ERP system fora year, but now we will definitely be keeping infoBoard!

“With sixty employees now, we have been able to extend our planning from one week to several weeks. This means that we avoid peaks in machine time and now work more evenly. The availability of information (what is in progress, when it will be finished etc.) is available immediately without any effort. For the first time, the sales department is able to see the progress of production and is ergo more effective and targeted in its efforts.

Through feedback reports on infoBoard WebViews, group leaders can finally assessand estimate: where are we?”

The customer took a heuristic approach with trial and error and, after a short time, has created three approaches to a solution and has more than achieved his target. (Note that this three month detour in setting up production can be avoided by not declining the infoBoard Training Workshops.

The connection to the new ERP system is now planned.

What do prospective customers with Excel planning say?

A prospective customer in plant manufacturing reported the following to me (translated from German):

“We have no ERP system, the project leaders calculate and describes the tasks with Excel, but have no resource responsibilities. Our warehouse should be shut down, we already buy 80% more than what the workshop (through the leader) planned. Orders from other areas are, however, always coming into the workshop and the effects (delays on our projects) is inestimable.

“Additionally, part of our team is on construction sites for assembly or service work. Production is therefore not plannable.”

The company began to look around on the market. Yes, infoBoard is not an ERP system! infoBoard simplifies the jobs to duration bars on a resource row, and allows for scheduling and capacity planning.

Admittedly, if you doesn’t know what you should do (task plans, sequencing of stages), then you also cannot make a schedule plan.

But believe me, every enterprise has established business operations, and the creation of products and services comes from good practice – from experience.

What do you have to decide in this situation? Market view, firstly, and then a complete solution? That’s unrealistic.. My suggestion is more like the Pareto principle: roughly 80% of the goals for planned production can be quickly implemented and tracked thanks to a 20% investment of time and money.

Experience gained in this way is inestimably important for the later implementation of an ERP system.

Increase the quality of your decisions!

The infoBoard planning board is THE tool for every responsible decision-maker in the company’s business operations.

Using infoBoard as a tool for production planning means using technology, using Excel to plan production doesn’t.

infoBoard also facilitates a heuristic approach, eg. trial and error. Work years of experience into your business model!

Never stop learning

If you want to learn more about better planning, as well as the business processes happening in your company, I would suggest that you search for the following terms in Wikipedia. The terms provide a theoretical background to your practical problems.

  • complexity
  • decision theory
  • scheduling
  • production planning
  • emergence
  • Holism (“the whole is more than the sum of its parts)
  • matrix

Which tools and methods to you use to make better decisions?