MRP versus JIT: The Superfluous Debate
There has been, and maybe there will be more,
argument concerning the value and continuing life of Manufacturing
Resource Planning with the advent of Just-in-Time manufacturing
techniques. Some have described and prescribed JIT as the ultimate
fix for a manufacturing company. Certainly, it would be foolish not
to allocate resources to disentangle the confused, disorderly
manufacturing environment. Developing an improved manufacturing
environment by eliminating as much waste as possible with minimum
setup times, quality at the source, level schedules, minimum
inventories, fewer interruptions in process flow, etc. will
dramatically improve performance in manufacturing companies.
Yet, some people are of the mindset that MRP and
JIT are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the techniques and tools, when used in a proper combination
provide opportunities to improve:
• The Planning Process
— Functional Coordination
— Process Controls
— Execution of Plans
All of which can only translate into better
managing the many and seemingly, unmanageable operating problems.
Hence, overall financial and competitive performance are
significantly improved. The companies that employ the necessary
tools and techniques will be the companies on the leading edge of
performance in the marketplace.
Confronting the Challenge
The future for American manufacturing is bright,
but the future cannot be a reflection of the past. It is very clear
that only the manufacturing firms with the highest level of applied
management skill are likely to survive in world competition. It is
very certain, and currently so painfully self-evident for some, that
manufacturing is the battleground and the competitive weapon that
is required to win.
While some companies have recognized
manufacturing as a potent competitive weapon, and have developed
their strategy accordingly, there are still far too many companies
with the manufacturing function isolated from the whole. The
existence of the wide gap between current and desirable practices in
strategic manufacturing management provides most companies with an
unusually fertile area for improving competitive advantage.
The reality is that manufacturing can become a
competitive weapon. Once this reality is fully appreciated, top
management will rebalance their focus of emphasis and hopefully the
necessary instinct for Manufacturing Excellence will result.
We must never forget that any competitive
challenge, in which we are involved, has but one goal—to win. The
way manufacturers choose to compete for the highest score is
likely to be in developing and implementing a successful
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