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Who Should Use This TutorialBackground to Scheduling With a SpreadsheetBuild Your Own SystemInterface to Your ERP System
For years spreadsheets have been used to design and prototype scheduling systems.They have now grown up, and are being used to develop serious production schedulingapplications.
This tutorial is aimed at spreadsheet literate people who are involved in planning and schedulingproduction activities. The techniques and formulas set out in this tutorial are being used by manufacturingcompanies daily; this is a practical, not an academic, exercise.We have been designing, building and implementing production scheduling systems for manufacturingcompanies since 1990. When PC's and spreadsheets were less capable than they are now, we usedspreadsheets to design and prototype scheduling algorithms, and to train on some of the principles of scheduling. Prototype designs were then handed over to software developers to write in more resilientand efficient programming languages.Often the pressure was on to throw several thousand records of data at the prototypes and use them for live scheduling, before handing them over to the software developers. So, in order to 'shoehorn' a bigscheduling task into a small PC, we recorded macro's that wrote a formula, copied it down, overwrote thecells with values, then moved on to the next column, so that no memory consuming live formulas wereleft behind. Typically, most of the macro code prepared downloaded data for scheduling, and generatedreports from the schedule, with only a small portion of the macro calculating the schedule itself. Weended up with big cumbersome macro driven scheduling systems that ordinary, spreadsheet literatepeople were locked out of.Thankfully we now have powerful computers which allow us to apply formulas to large amounts of data,and we have features such as Excel's PivotTable which will re-arrange and summarise data for scheduling, and prepare reports without resorting to writing macros. It makes the job, of building ascheduling system with a spreadsheet, a whole lot easier, and within the capability of the averagespeadsheet user.Our offering to our clients has now changed, and we can now give them the option of either building ascheduling system for them, or teaching their staff to build one for themselves, and providing guidencewhile they do it.Our clients include companies such as Shell, Toyota and Unilever, as well as many smaller manufacturing concerns. They all have ERP or older MRPII systems, and have felt that the functionalityof their systems need to be extended to give them the kind of responsive scheduling they are looking for.Spreadsheet based scheduling applications have been interfaced to SAP, Baan and many other ERPsystems.