SchedulePro Product Features

This page highlights the key features and capabilities of SchedulePro. Please watch the brief overview video of SchedulePro for additional information. For detailed information on the tool, please watch the SchedulePro Overview and Advanced-Subject videos on the videos page of our website and study the ReadMe files of its thorough examples. You can test-drive SchedulePro and experiment with all its examples by downloading the free functional evaluation edition of the tool from the downloads page of our website.

SchedulePro Basics

SchedulePro is a recipe-based scheduling tool. A recipe is a template or “master batch” for a process. Recipes consist of a series of unit procedures that are grouped into sections. A unit procedure is a processing step that utilizes a main equipment resource. Unit procedures have one or more operations. Operations represent tasks executed within a procedure, such as charging of materials, fermentation, cleaning, etc. The tool is equipped with multiple interfaces for creating, editing and visualizing recipes. In addition to equipment, other resources considered by SchedulePro include work areas, labor, staff members, materials, utilities and inventory capacity. SchedulePro has a convenient calendar interface for entering time-based resource availability.

Production schedules in SchedulePro consist of campaigns (a.k.a. “work orders”). A campaign in SchedulePro is a set of batches of a certain recipe. A campaign can be scheduled with a certain target start or completion date and time or relative to the start or end of other campaigns. The tool is equipped with several scheduling modes (e.g., Automatic, ASAP, Layout). In the Automatic and Layout modes, multi-batch campaigns are scheduled based on a cycle time to even the load of resources. In the ASAP (As Soon As Possible) mode, consecutive batches are scheduled as soon as all the required resources are available.


Schedule Generation and Visualization

SchedulePro generates time-optimized production schedules that do not violate constraints related to limited availability of work areas, main equipment, auxiliary equipment and staff members. SchedulePro optionally considers constraints imposed by the limited availability of other resources, such as labor, utilities, and inventories of materials.

The scheduling results are displayed through various charts and reports. The figure below is the Equipment Occupancy chart of a manufacturing facility with two production lines (L1 and L2). Each row corresponds to one equipment resource. The colored bars indicate when the equipment is in use. The red vertical line represents the current time which is updated based on the computer clock time. The current time-line results in the division of activities into three categories: completed (displayed by a crossed hatch pattern), in-progress (diagonal hatch) and not-started (filled pattern). Accounting for delays and equipment failures that lead to scheduling conflicts and necessitate rescheduling are easily handled by the tool.


Resource Tracking and Reporting

SchedulePro calculates and displays demand for various resources, such as materials, utilities, labor, etc.. It also generates more than 20 reports that provide information on production schedules, utilization of resources, ordering and inventories of materials, etc. For instance, the figure below represents the system that supplies purified water to a bio-manufacturing facility. The green lines represent the inventory of water in the storage tank, the reddish lines display the water draws and the blue lines represent the operation of the generation system that replenishes the inventory. Changes made to the schedule are immediately reflected in the charts. This functionality facilitates sizing of utility generation and storage systems. If you are interested in the subject, please visit the Videos page of our website and scroll to the bottom of the page. You will find two videos that provide detailed information on Purified Water (WFI) System Sizing. The ReadMe files of the Bio-Processing and Fill-Finish examples of SchedulePro provide detailed information on the subject as well.


SchedulePro Production Suite

The SchedulePro Production Suite is recommended for companies that use SchedulePro for day-to-day production planning and scheduling. In addition to SchedulePro, the suite includes the WebTracker, a web application which communicates with SchedulePro through a SQL Server database. The WebTracker provides visibility and allows plant-floor updating of the schedules generated by SchedulePro. The SchedulePro Overview page provides information on the architecture of the SchedulePro Production Suite. Please watch the SchedulePro Brief Overview video for additional information on the subject. For detailed information, please watch the SchedulePro Production Suite Overview video. A key feature of the WebTracker is its ability to display the current as well as the planned (original) schedule of a batch or campaign (see image below). This enables users to visualize delays occurring during the execution of a production order. In addition, the tool provides detailed information on the events that cause delays and provides interfaces for suggesting schedule updates by plant-floor personnel. The SchedulePro Production Suite database maintains a complete record of every version of the schedule from the initial plan to the executed batch. SchedulePro users have leveraged this data to create custom analytics. This can provide statistics and metrics such as the most frequent reasons for delays or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) values. The WebTracker allow users to access schedule information across different browsers and devices including tablets and smart phones.

Stochastic Modeling and Variability Analysis

SchedulePro generates schedules in a deterministic way (based on fixed durations and processing rates). However, it is possible to visualize the execution of a schedule in a probabilistic (stochastic) way. In addition to its nominal value, the duration of any operation may be associated with a probability distribution to account for variability during execution (see image on the left below). During the probabilistic execution of a schedule, the current-time line steps through the schedule and perturbs the selected durations by sampling values from their distributions. The schedule is updated dynamically. Each simulation run represents a possible execution scenario. In addition, SchedulePro performs Monte Carlo simulations by stochastically generating the schedule many times and collecting the statistics of output variables. For instance, the image on the right below represents the distribution for the overall duration (also known as makespan) of a schedule over 200 trials. While the nominal or deterministic overall duration of the project is 558.28 hours, the most likely value (median) is 563.44 hours, and the maximum can be 577.47 hours given the batch-to-batch variability. The Probabilistic Modeling and Variability Analysis video provides detailed information on the subject.


Compatibility with Other Tools

SchedulePro can import recipes from SuperPro Designer through a MS Access recipe database file. A batch process in SuperPro becomes a rich recipe in SchedulePro that includes information on materials, utilities and labor resources in addition to main and auxiliary equipment. SchedulePro imports and exports recipes and resources in flat file format allowing data exchange with other tools including Microsoft Excel. Production order data can be imported from or exported to ERP tools through a user-configurable interface. Both recipe information and production schedule execution status information can be imported from MES, Data Historians, and Automation Tools through the SQL Server database.

SchedulePro exports schedules to MS Project in XML format. The reports of the tool are generated in HTML format and viewed using a browser. The reports also can be opened, viewed and modified using MS Excel. The data of the resource charts can be exported in CSV format and viewed / plotted using MS Excel. In addition, all the charts can be copied and pasted into MS Office in Picture and other formats.