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Disclaimer: All information posted in this blog are original unless otherwise stated and remains valid for as long as I have not yet thought of a better way to present them. They are not meant to be prescriptive and used rigidly without forethought.
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10 January 2012

Part I of II: PROJECT SCHEDULE & PRODUCTION SCHEDULE : Using Gantt Charts

PART A of B - How to Create your Project Schedule

An early note:
Avoid drawing a table and fill in the activities or shade the time lines before you think about the whole design process. List the activities involved, work out the timings and then make quick drafts of them. Later you'll create the Gantt Chart to show your project schedule. Miss this step and you got a useless time-line.

Step 1: Understanding the Design Process
  1. Before you start planning, you got to understand the design process. You need to know when to do what, and what to do next. And be able to explain why you plan to do things in a certain sequence.
  2. With the  design model in mind, work out your a logical design process model. This forces you to study your own thinking process real hard and make sure you are convinced of the steps involved.
  3. There is no need to rush and start creating lines and tables on the A3 paper for the schedule at the moment.
Step 2: Planning the Project Activities and Time

You may start to create your actual Gantt chart once you have thought through the following details:
  1. Working on a draft, make a list of activities (or tasks) involved.
  2. Refine your activities and sequences so that they make logical sense.
  3. Do mental run, and imagine yourself working with your proposed sequence, ask if they make sense.
  4. Check the calendar for holidays, exams, and other activities that may distract you from working on the project and note them somewhere.
  5. Set an end date. And draft a comfortable time-line to complete by that date. Or a few days ahead.
Step 3: Putting Plan onto Paper
Once you thought through your procedures, worked out your timings, you are ready to draft your very first Project Schedule. Use the Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet if that helps. Its neater too and you can modify it anytime you need to. Otherwise search online for existing Gantt Chart templates. They might be very useful. Otherwise, you could always draw it out.

Notice that I always think through on paper and scribble notes all over the place. That's how I see things and plan. Then execute. Not the other way round.

Step 4: The Project Schedule Gantt Chart

Creating a Project Schedule in the form of a Gantt Chart
(An example of a gantt chart can be found below in Part B)
  1. On the left of the Gantt Chart is the column where you fill in the 'scheduled activities'.
  2. On the top will be your time-frame. i.e. Term 1 Week 1 to Term 1 Week 10 at one  week interval.
  3. Just below our time-frame is where you (a) 'Shade' in your planned start and completion dates (see black shade), and (b) 'Shade' in your actual time spent, for that activity.
The objective for such a schedule is so that you may be able to
  1. plan ahead what and when to do, and when to complete, both for individual tasks as well as the last day for completion, and
  2. monitor your progress.
Remember to add in the last row where you will monitor your research works throughout the design process. This section will be where you record your research activities throughout the design process. Note: It is not sufficient just to shade the entire row with no written evidence of what you did do for research.



Step 5: Including the Research Component

Research Record: Treat it like a Diary

You may be wondering what or how to record research activities. Treat it like a diary. Just that you only record stuffs you did related to a research work. For example, you went to a furniture mall to check out innovative chair designs. You asked for a broucher to better understand the designer and his idea behind the design. You may record those and note the dates.

If you decided to detour and proceeded to McDonald's for a Sundae after your visit, you don't have to record that.

Reference to the Project Schedule Activities, click HERE.

PART B - How to Create your PRODUCTION SCHEDULE

The way to create your producion plan is very similar to your project plan. The difference is now you are planning your MAKING processes. You should have completed your development process and have all parts and dimensions ready before you start planning to make.

Activities on the left hand colomn, and the top row you have the planned days for the activities.

Very familiar also you will have two types of 'bars'.
The top bar  (heavily shaded) shall be your 'Planned' duration for a particular process.
The bar below represents your 'Actual' duration used to complete that planned process.

 An Example of a Typical Production Schedule (List of Actitities)
  1. Material List generation, Submission and Collection of Materials.
  2. Markig out of materials according to your working drawings.
  3. Drill / Bore all holes, followed by Shaping of the materials according to your planned sequences. i.e. which one first.
  4. Post 'Shaping' finishing on all parts. i.e. sanding or filing (+ wet & dry sanding) depending on what materials you work on.
  5. For Acrylic: If you have bending or forming in your project, you will need to 'Polish' your edges first.
  6. For Acrylic: Bending.
  7. For Acrylic: If spray painting is desired, you will spray paint before you assemble.
  8. For Acrylic: Dry Assembly and testing. Fine-tune if necessary then proceed to end with Final Assembly.
  9. For Wood, either
    • (a) Dry Assembly and testing.  Fine-tune if necessary. Followed by finishing (lacquering or spray painting) on individual parts and proceed to end with Final Assembly, or
    • (b) Dry Assembly and testing.  Fine-tune if necessary. Final Assembly and end with finishing (lacquering or spray painting) on the whole product.
Conclusion
Making use of this gantt charts like the above, you will be able to work systhematically and monitor your progress.

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