MS-Project 2019 Planning Employees Combined with Machines

New Contributor

I have been searching for a solution for quite some time now on how to plan employees and our machines.

To put it simply:

Employee-1 works on Machine-1.

Approach: Assign Employee-1 and Machine-1 as resources to Task-1 (e.g. manufacturing of plate)

Now Employee-1 goes on vacation for 2 weeks (the milling machine does not ;)) which means an interruption for the machine and employee.

Approach: Enter an exception (2 weeks vacation) in the Employee-1 resource.

Result: Task-1 is postponed by 2 weeks.

(Except for the fact that the interruption is not displayed in the Gantt chart, the timing works)

However, I would like Employee-2 to operate Machine-1 during Employee-1's vacation.

Approach: Check the duration of Employee-1's vacation in the Team Planner and enter the replacement in a new task.

Manually reduce the duration of Employee-1's vacation in Task-1 (the replacement will take over during this time, so the vacation time in Task-1 must be correspondingly reduced)

As you can imagine, this approach is more than unsatisfactory. On the one hand, I have to ensure that the machine is not double-booked and that there is always an employee at the machine. Even though there is no employee at the machine, the Gantt chart shows that the machine is in use continuously (without a replacement for the vacation). Attempting to split a task (manufacturing plate) into 2 or 3 subtasks (machine; operator; vacation replacement) is extremely cumbersome and error-prone due to the time adjustments for each individual task.

Does anyone have a better suggestion?

Question 1: Does anyone have a suggestion for better linking machines and operators in Project?

Question 2: Can the operator's vacation be displayed in the Gantt chart? (or the interruption)

Thank you in advance for your support.

4 Replies
best response confirmed by Dale Howard (MVP)


There are a few different ways to handle this scenario. The most straightforward is to break the task into two parts, employee 1 + machine, and employee 2 + machine. It shouldn't be too prone to error but it will add to the task count.


Another approach is to first customize employee 1's calendar with vacation time. Assign employee 1, the machine, and employee 2 all to the task at 100%. Then, using a Usage view or the Resource Form, edit the start time of employee 2 so it starts the day employee 1 "heads out the door to go fishing". Here's what it might look like.



As for your question about showing employee 1's vacation on the Gantt Chart, the only way to do that is if the task is broken into two parts.


Hope this helps.


I was in this situation and ended up using just the machine resource.
Machine tasks with mach01 login.
The progress updates of the mach01 tasks are updated by whichever machine operator(employee) makes progress. All operators of that machine know the login for the mach01 account. A good example would be running 2 shifts. The mach01 resource has a 20 hour calendar, if employee 2 misses the afternoon shift then no progress is made that shift. The next day you update the schedule, level and republish.

Thank you very much for your support! I will test your suggestions and get back to you. I haven't really worked with the calendar function yet, so it's probably time to familiarize myself with it.

Calendar isn't a function it is a configuration. There are 3 calendar levels. Project, Resource, Task.
Resource calendar override Project calendar and Task override resource.
Each Resource can have a unique calendar. If your machine had a 2shift 20hour calendar it will schedule 20 hrs per day. But if only 10 hours actual work is done via the task updates. The end date of the original task will move 10hrs in the future because, on this last day, 10 hours of the 20 hours scheduled work were not accomplished.

In english

Dayshift employee1 booked 10hours actual work

Afternoon employee2 didn't book any actual work because they missed the shift

The fact that mach01 was scheduled for 20hrs but only 10 happened is now corrected to reality because there was no afternoon operator. Reschedule, Republish and face this new reality of you plan.