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Scheduling Challenges Present in Divergent Additive Manufacturing Environments

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Conference Abstract: While additive manufacturing (AM) machines have many technical challenges (material, quality, production speed, etc.) and industry has sought to solve them, to remain competitive it is crucial that manufacturers and service bureaus regardless of industry understand the parameters and complexities of production scheduling, which is not limited to the nested scheduling of the AM machine but extends to the entirety of the manufacturing process and ripples through the entire shop floor. Divergent manufacturing processes, typical of additive manufacturing and where one build plate shop order branches into multiple and separate end item post-processing operations, poses additional complexities and challenges to scheduling of the entire shop floor. Effective scheduling must not only find available machines to do the work based on capacity and load, but specific machines capable of and/or approved to do the work with enough material to complete an entire job.

Presented are the many scheduling challenges and parameters particular to divergent manufacturing and the additive world: from varying customer delivery dates for different parts on the same build plate, to item-specific approved work centers (not all machines may be allowed to produce a particular part) and material availability at each machine, to work center capacities and load, and other considerations. For rough cut capacity purposes, it is often useful to include planned or proposed requirements into the schedule for better long-range planning of resource capacity and load. With the parameters influencing effective scheduling understood, presented next are different approaches (forward or backward) and methods (spreadsheets or software) for scheduling additive and post-processing resources.
  • David Bennett
    SVP, Development and Product Management