Workstation Types vs Workstation Inventories - What's the Difference?

When setting up your bureau, it may be a bit confusing about how to differentiate between Types and Inventory objects. In this article, we will attempt to address some of the common questions around these concepts and help you set up your bureau to model your factory effectively.

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1. Types:

Generally, the workstation type represents a specific model/version of a machine/workstation (i.e. 3D printer, post-processor, or process) in which all of the actual devices/stations of that type can be used interchangeably. Most of the limitations/constraints of a machine are dictated at the type level and are applied across all inventory machines that are that type (i.e. bandsaws that can handle the same materials, sizes of jobs, orientations, build chamber volume).

2. Inventories:

The inventory workstations represent actual instances of a workstation type that you actually possess within your factory system. The number of machines/workstations, as specified in your inventories, dictates the number of queues that you have on your Gantt chart and should map to the number of concurrent machines/workstations that would be working each day. Runs will be scheduled between queues of the same type as if they work independently of each other. This is important to note when you look at the exceptions/examples listed below.

Exception:

Some businesses artificially limit a group of a type to a specific function: for example, limiting the types of material certain machines will run by deciding that 2 (out of a group of 4 EOS M400-4) will be dedicated to Titanium ONLY. Because of this business limitation/decision, you may choose to split off a new type of M400-4 that specifies "Ti Only" in the type's title/description and material setup. This sort of decision will result in more types of machines but may be necessary for your bureau.

Common Questions:

  1. Does Inventory = Quantity of resources?

Sort of, but there is some nuance to this decision. We suggest limiting the number of inventory workstations (of a specific type) to the number of stations that are regularly working in parallel OR the number of physical locations where you currently perform the work: whichever is the smaller number. If you overestimate the number of workstations, you run the risk of improperly modeling the factory’s actual capacity because you will have more queues that will be scheduled ASAP. 

  1. Can I group similar machines into the same queue or workstation type?

We do not recommend this. You may be interested in combining similar (though distinctly different) post-processors into a single generic type (ie. all bandsaws would become Cutoff Tools) so that the system can schedule across these objects interchangeably. However, as each of them has distinctly differing limitations (i.e. bandsaw cutting size or orientation limitations), we do not recommend this. Currently, the system will schedule runs for these workstations interchangeably, without specific knowledge of whether the workstation is capable of performing the specified work. Because of this risk, we do not advise this approach as the correction process is manual.

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