FabSuite Workflow – Continuing in Project Management with the Project Schedule

After adding a new Project Management job, we suggest adding a Project Schedule.  Setting up a project schedule is fast and easy.  This blog entry is an overview, explains how to get started and provides discussion on the extended benefits with adding and using a project schedule.

With adding a Project Schedule you can get:

  • A working schedule to share with your team and your customer
  • The ability to track labor hours and level of completion by Task or Station
  • A way to match planned hours with executed hours from Production Control piece tracking
  • When linked to Estimating, labor hours may be matched against ‘Linked’ or executed hours
  • A way to send Planned labor hours by calendar date to Production Scheduling
  • A way to avoid Shop labor conflicts and overtime

Adding a Project Schedule is not only beneficial for our shop, it proves very useful for showing project changes and delays, and how they affect our overall shop fabrication schedule to the customer.  This is very powerful information when negotiations for overtime may become necessary.

Instructions for adding a new schedule is available in the ‘PRJ’ selection from the ‘Open User Manual’ drop down in the ‘About’ window:






When you open the manual, you may jump to the specific instruction page by clicking on the Index item for Project Schedule.  Step by step instructions are provided.  There is also the Video on Project Scheduling in the ‘New v5.2.3 Features’ available by clicking the button for ‘Version Information’ in the FabSuite startup window.  If the manuals or videos just don’t do it for you – schedule some training.  An hour with a trainer may be all you need to get started.

Schedule Templates may be created in Project Management Maintenance.  Follow the instructions in the manual for ‘PRJ Maintenance’ for setting up your template.   While working in FabSuite, you may save a current schedule back as a template by selecting ‘Save as Template’ from the Schedule Tasks drop down after you have finished with making a schedule.   Any template may be modified at will after import to fit specific job conditions.

FabSuite is designed for users to save templates in either direction, first as a template in Schedule Templates, or saved from a current project schedule back to Schedule Templates from Project Management, whichever works best for you.

When a Project Schedule is added to Project Management, this data then automatically becomes available to the Production Schedule.  When the Production Control materials are assigned to stations in a route, the hours by station are then linked to the Production Schedule by way of the Project Schedule.

When planned hours by station have been added to the Project Schedule, shops using the Production Schedule will be able to see that data immediately.

The Production Schedule is specifically designed to show the daily planned hours by station for all jobs with a Project Schedule, vital for forecasting the execution of shop labor.  FabSuite is designed to incorporate all labor hours by station for all jobs in the program.  In doing so, users will see when the shop is overloaded and underutilized, allowing those that plan and schedule to make labor adjustments as necessary.   The purpose of which is to help prevent labor bottlenecks and minimize the need for overtime.

To get to the Project Schedule, first open the project management job.








Click the ‘Project Schedule’ button at the bottom right of the window to open.







The above example shows the Gantt Chart of a typical schedule. The blue lines indicate the calendar span for execution.  The black lines with the percentage indicate the level of completion.  Users would click the top right button for ‘Update Status’ to update all linked tasks.

The question then becomes well, how are tasks linked?  There are Three Steps to linking materials to tasks:

  • First – link the Production Control Job to the Project Management job
  • Second – assign a Route to the materials
  • Third – Select and add ‘Station Progress’ to your Project Schedule Tasks

When users make a Project Management job to start a job and there are no shop drawings yet, there is no material to start a Production Control job.  You may still make a Project Schedule and link up with Production Control later.

The linking may begin when you import a bill of materials into Production control.  Do not worry too much about Stations and Routes, or Station Progress yet, more about these items will be revealed as you move forward.  We are just explaining how this is all going to work as you learn more about the program.

When the bill of materials is being imported, there is a job edit window which opens as the process begins.  At the Production Control job edit window, select then the Project Management job to link to:









The example above shows the Project Management drop down with a list of jobs to select from.  Users click to select the job, and save, and the link is created.  This links the materials and the drawings between Project Management and Production Control.  There is another selection link for the Estimate in this window to push forward the estimated labor time to Production Control.  Users may add the labor time by station manually by putting those hours in the field for ‘Original Estimate’ in the Project Schedule when estimating is not being used.

When not using Estimating, Labor time may be added to Production Control through the use of Production Codes – The information for this is included with the blog entries for ‘Unlocking the Mystery of Production Codes’ parts one thru four starting with the entry dated October 11, 2016. You may also review the videos on the New v15.0 Features for Production Scheduling.  Click on the ‘Version Information’ button at the FabSuite entry window to access these.

After import, the material is then assigned to a route.  For information on this, the manual for ‘PDC Maintenance’ has a section for ‘Stations and Route Setup’ which explains this in detail.  Material assignments for the Route are accomplished by global edit, a step which is completed by a few mouse clicks.

The Stations in the route are according to how the materials need to be worked in the shop.  We show you this now so you are aware that materials may be tracked by these stations.  While it is not mandatory, the labor time to execute this work may also be recorded in Production Control piece tracking.  When jobs are not linked to estimating which allows specific match up for estimated labor time to what was executed, static labor time by station may be entered into the schedule as planned hours.  Planned hours may then be used for comparison to actual hours.







See the example above showing the list of Schedule Tasks and the Station Progress in the Status Link column.  This is how FabSuite ‘sees’ the piece tracking information in Production control from the Project Schedule.  The actual set up of this is explained in the instructions for Project Scheduling.

When not linked, users may manually update and extend the completion level.  So users may choose to either have their jobs linked, or leave them unlinked and manually record the execution level.  Either way, you have a useful job management tool with the Project Management Schedule.







When you have made a Project Schedule with linked stations and planned hours, you may see the Production Schedule by clicking on the drop down selection while you are working the Project Schedule window.  First to open will the filter window.  Here you may select your Start and end dates, your view by day, week or month, a specific ‘Resource’ or station, and the job you want to view.

Click ‘Apply Filter’ to open the Production Schedule window:







The Production Schedule example shows the default capacity by Resource as hours.  Red entries indicate over capacity or too many hours needing to be executed for the given span of time.  The fixed number of resource hours is shown in the column for ‘Default Capacity’.  Immediately we can see that an impact needs to be researched and attended.  We are looking at a single job in this view.  Filters may be changed to add any number of jobs, allowing production to change their labor application – or Resource – as necessary.

Production Schedule entries shown in this window are not changed manually, though manpower resource applications may be adjusted or schedules might me moved to accommodate overages.   However it is to happen, the potential conflict has immediate exposure.   I cannot say enough about the benefits of this type of knowledge with running a shop.

This all becomes available when we do these three things in FabSuite –

  • Make a Project Schedule in Project Management
  • Link the Project Management Job to the Production Control Job
  • Assign a route to our Production Control Materials

What I have written here goes far beyond just adding a Project Schedule, but this is more of an effort to impress upon you the extended benefits of a process which take little time yet provides an abundance of information.

Having worked in Project Management, Production Management and Operations myself, I know what it is like to have to dig for information.  Then, in order to see how the job is really doing regarding labor and finances, I had to design and maintain almost daily an elaborate spreadsheet.  At the time it was the only useful tool I had.  Now, here it is all at my fingertips, all I had to do to start was to make a Project Schedule!

So far in this series for FabSuite Work flow, we have added a new job to Project Management, added our design drawings and specifications, added notes and attachments to Journal Entries and Document Index, and now have extensively reviewed the need for a Project Schedule.  Continuing next time with our work flow series, we will be adding our Schedule of Values in preparation for our first billing!  Take care till then! – k

Written by Kerri Olsen

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