Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Assessing the Application of Production Scheduling: Demand Uncertainty and the Performance of Manufacturing Firms in Rivers State, Nigeria

Academic journal article International Review of Management and Business Research

Assessing the Application of Production Scheduling: Demand Uncertainty and the Performance of Manufacturing Firms in Rivers State, Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Many manufacturing firms generate and update production schedules, which are plans that state when certain controllable activities (processing of jobs by resources) should take place. For instance, manufacturers must schedule production, which means developing timing for workers, equipment, purchases and maintenance.

Scheduling is the activity of allocating a firm's resources, such as the workforce , machines, vehicles, and materials and the tasks to be executed within a certain period in the production of goods and services (Pinedo, 2008). Production scheduling pertains to establishing the timing of the use of specific resources in a firm. This relates with the overall production scheduling plan for the production process within some given period to give an idea to management as to what quantity of materials and other resources are to be procured and when, so that the total cost of operations of the organization is kept to the minimum over the period.

Scheduling is an important aspect of operations control in both manufacturing and service firms with increased emphasis on output levels, lead time in meeting demand and in satisfying the customer. Efficient scheduling plays increasing emphasis in ensuring the effective management of demand uncertainties. Uncertainty often stems from instability and dynamism in specific industry conditions such as demand, competitive actions, and technology. Due to demand uncertainty, firms as well as managers have the objective to schedule production in order to identify resources conflicts, control the release of jobs to th e shop, ensure that required raw materials are ordered in time and also determine their workforce level in relation to demand uncertainties.

The demand for goods in most cases is very difficult to predict. Demand is uncertain when the volume or specific needs of customers is unknown, but the future demand can be estimated using appropriate forecasting techniques. It is the uncertainty of demand level which gives rise to capacity planning. Therefore under uncertainty, manufacturing firms identify their present capacity state bearing in mind room for future expansion due to increased level of capacity need in meeting higher levels of product demand. When the expectation of changing demand levels cannot be adequately predicted hence production scheduling should be carried out to accommodate meeting demand. Therefore, high demand requirements absorb available capacity and the firm is likely to adopt necessary strategic decisions in coping with the demand. However, in situations of stable demand or low demand variability, the uniform schedule is preferred.

In an ideal manufacturing organization, production works perfectly according to schedule. However, in real situations the production activity is imperfect as production schedules become inaccurate or unfeasib le due to disturbances of demand uncertainties. This causes the deviation of the actual production from that scheduled and the consequent complexity of finished goods inventory levels and capacity utilization. Such complexity if not properly managed could result in customer dissatisfaction (Huaccho, 2003).

The essence of production scheduling is fundamentally to avoid increased costs on production by having a scheduled programme that fits the production planning for a given period accommodating the uncer tainties in product demand. This appears to flow from the reasoning that the demand for the firm's product is in a state of flux as low demand or high demand levels which can be estimated by applying forecasting techniques. This twin factor of meeting demand and having smooth operations of manufacturing firms can be characterized by adopting appropriate production scheduling options that can enhance production performance.

Nevertheless, as manufacturing firms in Nigeria grapple with the issue of appropriate production scheduling as a factor of meeting product demand, the issue of production efficiency of manufacturing firms is ignored. …

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