A method is the description of how you transform your parts and materials into products. At its simplest level, a method consists of a series of steps, where each step consists of a part list and a resource list or a supplier list. The scheduler uses the information in the method to estimate costs, estimate delivery dates and to allocate stock and resources to a job.

Each step represents a single ‘operation’. Performing, in turn, each step in its method makes the product. A method can have as many steps as you like. The minimum is one. The processing for the step can either be performed by you or by a sub-contractor. When done by you, the step has a resource list to specify the machines, tools, people, etc. you need. When a sub-contractor is being used, the step has a supplier list to specify the suppliers you normally use for the process.

A part list consists of a list of parts and their dimensions and quantities needed for a step. You can have any number of parts in the list, including none, except on the first step, which normally has at least one. Usually, the raw material is added to step one and then processed by each step thereafter. When there are multiple parts, you would normally add each extra part to the first step that needs it. This gives you the maximum opportunity to start work early in the event that not all the parts you need for the whole product are ready. A part may call up a raw material (i.e. something you buy) or another product (i.e. a sub-assembly you make). You can have sub-assemblies within sub-assemblies to any depth you like. The part information is used to allocate stock to your jobs and to calculate your buying requirements. It’s also used in the calculation of estimated production costs.

A resource list consists of a list of the machines, tools, gauges, people, etc. and the amount of time needed of each for the step. A fixed set-up part and a variable cycle part specify the time. The set-up part is independent of the quantity to be made. The cycle part is multiplied by the quantity to be made to calculate the time needed. This information is used by the scheduler to allocate time to your jobs. If you specify a running cost for each of your resources, the time information in the step is also used in the calculation of estimated production costs.

A supplier list is associated with each sub-contracted step and also with each raw material. It consists of a list of suitable suppliers, along with their charges and standard delivery lead times. This information is used by the scheduler to allocate suppliers and to calculate production lead-times. The charge information is used to calculate estimated costs. You can specify a batch charge, that is independent of quantity, and a per unit charge for each of your supplied parts and services. When there is a choice of suppliers, the scheduler will normally pick the cheapest for the quantity required.