what's the easiest way for me to demonstrate/visualize workload?
October 8, 2018 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to train our warehouse crew to do time studies of some of their work so we can better arrange deadlines and ETAs. For example, if we have 5 orders, and they take 1 hr, 2 hrs, 1 hr, 3 hrs, and 4 hrs to process, I'd like to be able to visualize those as e.g. 1 hr blocks. And then to further visualize what happens if e.g. there's a rush order or someone's out, I'd like to be able to simply "move" those blocks around...

I'd like to do this with a weekly calendar...and if you can imagine maybe those blocks as lego blocks or something like that, we'd manually move the blocks accordingly, so you can *visually* see that "if you squeeze in this order, it pushes these other orders to Thursday". Does that make sense?

But I'd like to do it a bit more automatically, like on a spreadsheet or something like that, because we're actually dealing with many many more orders. Doing it with legos or post-its or whatever would be like a proof of concept, but we wouldn't want to do that "for reals". Any suggestions on how to do this?
posted by edjusted to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Could Gantt charts be useful to you?
posted by peacheater at 1:31 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

A Gantt chart is definitely what you need for this. There's a lot of different software that'll produce them, and most of it is designed for pretty much this scenario, but usually for more complex projects and longer timelines.

The software I've used for this is OmniPlan which is Mac/iOS only. If you already have MS Office, you might have access to Microsoft Project which I've never used, but has similar functionality.
posted by duien at 2:14 PM on October 8, 2018

I've thought about Gantt charts, but don't have much experience with them. If I use Gantt charts, though, wouldn't each Order need its own line? That would mean hundreds of lines.
posted by edjusted at 2:42 PM on October 8, 2018

Someone told me that a certain beloved animation studio did this exact thing, except instead of hours, it's "man-weeks". They used popsicle sticks.

The director would be given a certain budget of popsicle sticks. Then he would declare that he wanted to do such and such a thing in the movie. The producer would inform him that the thing would cost X amount of man weeks.

Having a physical manipulative that indicated to the director what the toll on the crew would be to do a particular thing had a real impact.
posted by cleverevans at 5:05 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

So - Gantt charts might work - but, try Kanban - which evolved from manufacturing.

This link might be better/deeper than the wikipedia article.

Myself - I only know of it from a software development/operations perspective from a great book titled: "The Phoenix Project".
posted by jkaczor at 3:11 PM on October 9, 2018

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