Scheduling And Manufacturing Software


From original questioner:

Hi Everyone, We are a medium sized manufacturer with around 60-70 employees. At the moment we have one installations manager who organises all the installation dates and how the jobs get put into production. This creates a bottleneck that we are keen to eliminate as the number of jobs increases the more difficult it becomes. We are looking to offload this process so that we have multiple project managers who would then schedule both production times and trades.

We are using excel at this stage, but clearly this will no longer be functional in a multi user system. I am looking at scheduling software at this point but with a view to adding design and machining functionality, accounting and costing packages possibly at a later date. I have looked at many different types of software and read as much as i can about these projects and other peoples implementations and successes/failures.

Seems to me that there is no out of the box solution, which is fine, I figured it might be a multi software mix with the possibility of binding them all together with some coding glue (I can code somewhat). From manufacturing and cutlists (cabinetvision, microvellum, mozaik, kcd, ecabinet, tradesoft etc.) to scheduling trades (micromanager, jobman, proworkflow, geoop etc) which essentially use Gantt charting and calendaring to streamline production output and installation, to accounting software (quickbooks, MYOB, xero, sage, aarow, NetSuite, intacct, Reckon etc.) which obviously does accounts, payroll and inventory control (along with the cabinet software). Does anoyone use an ERP system or some fully customised DB system? For Scheduling, I have looked at:- (obviously needs customisation which means learning the API)

One of the main difficulties is in that each kitchen we manufacture is custom built. Depending on what they specify for their kitchen, be it stone or timber benchtops, glass or tile splashback, laminate or 2 pack doors etc, they will all require different lead times for ordering, manufacturing times in certain departments (2 pack needs painting and polisihing, laminate just needs edging, both may need routing if the doors have profiles etc). So these differences in each job will all have a flow on effect in manufacturing and we want to ensure each department is working at maximum productivity and that the jobs are finished on time and of high quality.

Each of these jobs then needs to be installed. This means we have to corordinate delivery (trying to minimise driving time), trades, strip out, plumbing, electrical, installers (again depedning on what each kitchen requires we may or may not need each trade), stone and glass installations.

Now while we used to have one person sorting the logistics of all these processes out we need to have multiple users having the ability to select and hold manufacturing and installation dates. I was thinking about having a number of templates which the project manager could select, then try to fit it into the schedule and if so, then they can just add it. We would like to have an overall timeline view a project timeline view, a trade user view, a production department view.

I was hoping to get some feedback on the software I have mentioned or ideas of other software that might be out there that I have missed but should look into. I realise every cabinet maker has different requirements so what works for one business wont necessarily work for another. Im just hoping to make our implementation work as well for us as I can. Sorry if it seems a bit scattered, but im also just trying to put my thoughts together.

Thanks for your time.

From contributor TS

Try Good stuff.

From contributor Ga

I'll second looking into tradesoft...great piece of software, that has the potential to bring together the data you're talking about.

From contributor Pa

Seradex can provide a scale-able approach to this situation. Bite off as much as you want to chew. They already link to CV, MV, woodCAD|CAM and a host of other software packages. Communicate to your existing accounting or they have their own fully GAAP compliant accounting software.

From contributor St

How about Smart Sheets, its easy and has a small learning curve and is live on the cloud.
Pretty cheap also....

From contributor Fr

Hi Jake,

Cabinet Pro CNC can handle the bulk of what you are looking for in custom cabinets, networking, CNC output for multiple machines, Inventory Control, cut lists, extreme manufacturing automation per company, detailed pricing, and the exporting/importing of data to and from other programs using CSV files or any other file format. That which we may NOT be able to handle can be included via custom programming where we can implement features into Cabinet Pro CNC that fit your particular needs.

I noticed the terms you used such as optimise, timber, splashback, benchtop, etc. I am therefore assuming you are from either Australia or New Zealand. There are over 400,000 words in Cabinet Pro CNC, and they convert from American English to Australian/New Zealand English using not only the Australian spelling of common words, but also Australian woodworking terms so that your staff would not have to struggle with American terminology that in many cases is foreign to Australian cabinet makers. Cabinet Pro CNC also converts just as quickly to Canadian English, UK English, and other languages so if you have offices elsewhere, Cabinet Pro CNC will adjust to their region as well.

We are currently working with a CNC machinery company in Brisbane and Perth so that we may not only sell Cabinet Pro CNC as a stand alone software product, which we do now, but also as part of a uniquely affordable system with machinery. We are scheduled to visit this company as well as a large but separate Chinese company sometime after Christmas in order to further customize Cabinet Pro CNC for not only the Australian/New Zealand market, but for a major Chinese manufacturer and the Chinese market as we did with Viet Nam a couple of years ago. This information is being related to you so that you may know the levels at which we can customize our software to meet the needs of a company or of a regional market. If you were interested, we could meet up with you and your company during that trip. We will be in Melbourne, Brisbane, and possibly Perth.

If you would like to communicate via Skype, our Skype IDs are admin_cabinetpro and support_cabinetpro. My email address is Before you call, you can view a number of demonstration videos at our website in order to get somewhat acquainted with the more routine aspects of Cabinet Pro CNC.

From contributor Ja

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your responses, I appreciate all the feedback.

TSE + Gary, i have had a good look at tradesoftinc and i have requested a demo. I have also demoed

Pat, thanks for the heads up with seradex, ill have to look into that more heavily. I see you are a custom integrator, thats very interesting. Did you look at many other options before deciding that seradex was a good solution? do you constantly check that this is the best solution going forward?

Steve im going to have a go at smartsheets later today and see if it can help

Frank, yes we are an Australian manufacturer, gday mate :) I had a quick look at your demos, but i couldnt see anything in the way of scheduling which is our primary issue at the moment.

If anyone else has some info on how they schedule production and installation in a multi user environment. I would love to hear your feedback, pros and cons of each system, what works well/doesnt. Ill keep updating here as i work through the issue to try to help others.

From contributor Pa

We provide different software solutions to the woodworking industry. Seradex was attractive to us because they only deal with make to order or engineer to order manufacturing and have experience with the woodworking industry. The implementation process that they utilize is time tested and proven to be effective. Face it, the software is only one aspect of the equation. Integration and getting up to speed using the software is critical for getting the quickest return on investment. The other great aspect of it was the ability to link to engineering software for a true push/pull relationship. I'm not sure who handles your part of the world but would be happy to connect you with someone, should you wish to get more information.

From contributor Ma

It sounds like you are describing Detail Binder. If you are a Cabnetware user it will do all of what you are looking for right out of the box. If not we could develop a script to make whatever design program you use work.
I can set you up with a screen share to demo the software.

From contributor Fr


We are preparing to enter the Chinese market with a rather large Chinese company. We are also expanding our presence in Australia and New Zealand. And of course we have been present in the U.S.A. and Canada for over 25 years now. We are not interested in re-inventing the wheel when it comes to scheduling so we might very well be interested in integrating Detail Binder into Cabinet Pro CNC so that the two operate as one. Ideally, we would need two versions: one for larger companies and one for smaller cabinet shops. Let me know your thoughts on this.

From contributor Pr


You said, "We are not interested in re-inventing the wheel when it comes to scheduling so we might very well be interested in integrating Detail Binder into Cabinet Pro CNC so that the two operate as one.".

Development of a powerful scheduling tool is not easy. Otherwise, every ERP package (for manufacturing) must have contained an excellent scheduling module by now.

Regarding the integration of third party scheduling software with ERP systems, a change is occurring now in the business policy of ERP vendors. Nowadays, many of these vendors are allowing multiple vendors of scheduling tools to integrate the tools with their ERP packages so that the end users can select and purchase the best tool for their system.

It is sometimes quite beneficial to your clients when you allow the scheduling software vendors to offer their tools as alternatives for production scheduling. Leave the burden of integration work to those vendors by revealing your data dictionary to them. The availability of third party tools as add-on can influence the purchase of a major software package by a client.

My company, Optisol offers a scheduling software, Schedlyzer to high-variety, custom production units. Multi-user application of it can be greatly enhanced when it is integrated with the main information system of a company.

From contributor Pr

In this context, I would like to refer to my blog shown below.

Without any commercial messages, it discusses about the scope of scheduling software in high-variety production.

From contributor Ga

I didn't add this in my earlier posts....When you're looking for a system to handle your scheduling needs, it's worth noting that any system will require you to have estimated labor operation times, as well as dependency input for you to have the schedule output.

My point is there are two issues to concern yourself with:

1. How are you going to get this data needed to begin with? If the data isn't part of your system already, then you need it to be. Remember, Garbage in/Garbage out.

2.If you aren't using a systemic approach under one umbrella, you have to be concerned with how to get this data from point A to point B. From this software over to that software...This can be a real PITA, and doesn't add any value, therefore it is WASTE. Unfortunately, if you commit to this, you'll likely have to accept this waste as part of the process, any time you want to update your schedule. This can add a lot of unnecessary labor to your front end. I've seen larger shops where scheduling was a full time job.

For us, Tradesoft is the umbrella that contains everything. It's estimating software (ProjectPAK) automatically sums all the labor operations as needed, and that data is ready to be read by the scheduling module at any time, automatically.

Good luck in your decision.

From contributor Pr


As a vendor of third party scheduling software, I am not as pessimistic as you with respect to data transfer issues.
Your opinion about data transfer from one software to another seem to be strongly negative. Nowadays, the situation is not as bad you describe in most cases because ERP systems are using excellent databases.

There are several users of ERP / MRP systems who are regularly running powerful third party scheduling tools for meeting their scheduling needs although those systems consist of scheduling modules. This is mainly because those scheduling modules are not much helpful to the users. In such cases, the benefits of some third party scheduling tools outweigh the data transfer issues.

The automatic data transfer enabled by proper SQL queries between a scheduling tool and an ERP system may need no more than a single mouse click each time. This is very much possible with some integration effort from both ERP vendor and scheduling software vendor. Otherwise, the current users will not even look at those scheduling tools. The users will surely ignore the purchase of third party scheduling tools if they can tolerate the performance of scheduling modules within the ERP systems.

The quality of the schedules generated by third party scheduling tools is much superior to that from ERP scheduling modules in many cases and therefore, some established ERP vendors themselves are directing their customers to a few best-of-breed scheduling tools when the customers want powerful solutions for their complex scheduling. The regular usage of these tools by many shops stands as testimony for the weakness of ERP scheduling modules. The users do not mind 2 or 3 extra mouse clicks while updating a schedule if they can get a high quality schedule.

You said that scheduling is a full time job at larger shops. It is really sad that scheduling is a full time job at some shops. In such cases, the scheduling is probably done using commonsense, experience and a lot of perspiration with or without Excel. I cannot imagine how they can perform what-if analysis of schedules whenever needed.

When a free, fully functional, limited-time trial copy of a scheduling software is offered, the users can evaluate the pros and cons of the software including the data transfer issues.

From contributor Ga


With all due respect, I can appreciate why you wouldn't like my post. I'm not sure I would If I were in your shoes. However, my goal is not to appease you or anyone else, but rather open up all the topics of concern for someone like the Original Poster who is contemplating the issue of scheduling for their company.

I'm quite aware that you could pull the information out of most databases with an SQL statement. However, most users, at least in the woodworking world aren't fluent in programming, or SQL. In a previous position I was in I created an application to do exactly that, pull data from one ERP system, and push it into another database.

Does your application facilitate this? I mean hooking up to an ODBC compliant database and querying it directly?

If it doesn't, or the if user cannot set it up, then who takes ownership of such a "bridge"? One issue I've seen with things like this is at update time. You update one software, and it "breaks" the bridge because of recent developments.

I'm not saying this is a make or break criterion. I'm saying it's all things the OP and others need to consider when making the decision.

From contributor ca


Could you send me a quote ? We run cabinetvision and I don't know if you got my e-mail.


From contributor Pr


The vendors of third party scheduling software must properly address the concerns you raised. Otherwise, they will be out of business. We can easily query the ODBC compliant database of an ERP system if ERP vendor reveals the data dictionary of his database and offers a little help in mapping, if necessary. This is where cooperation of ERP vendors is needed. We did it for some ERP systems with the help of ERP vendors. Nowadays, some ERP vendors are offering this cooperation probably because they understood the difficulty of developing a powerful scheduling tool as needed by their customers. In some cases, users save relevant job / project data from ERP system to an Excel file (using options given in ERP) which will be accepted by scheduling tools.

The updates of ERP system generally do not involve major data dictionary changes that can be troublesome for integrators like us. Therefore, the risk of SQL queries getting invalidated is very low. Scheduling software vendors must rewrite those queries appropriately if their own data dictionary changes. They must be very careful with their own version change with respect to integration with ERP systems.

From contributor mr

There is also one interesting software
Maybe it is good for smaller jobs.
I'm not sure should I take it. Did someone worked with it or can someone review it for me... Thanx!

From contributor da

i am a production manager for a small custom cabinet shop and also ran the field installations. Set up all schedulling and found a program called Virtual Boss. simple and affective. They are a good company to work with and can help you customize to your needs for free

From contributor Jo

I work for Epic Doors which manufactures fiberglass entry doors, and we evaluated several software companies including WinDoor Quote, WTS Paradigm, and Fenevision.

We were looking for a completely web based solution with a great quoting interface to grow our dealer network. We selected WDQ because of these features and was also priced better.

Worth checking, we are super satisfied with it!