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Each of the three primary categories have distinguishing characteristics that set them apart. This is especially true between the Master Planning and Detail Planning processes. Consider the Operations Management Processes (Figure 2) that show several characteristics associated with the two processes. The "translator" that takes the broad business view of Master Planning and puts it to work in an operational sense is the Master Schedule. The levels of detail, type of decisions, time frames of analysis and other characteristics are strikingly different. As an example, from a Demand Planning viewpoint, the strategic implication of improving the company's market share can contrast sharply with the operational pursuit of making products and shipping customer orders daily. Gaining market share has significant strategic business implications. Shipping customer orders complete and on time may be the tactical means to achieve the larger business goal. The Master Schedule should be the key that deploys Top Management's strategic initiative into the tactical reality of getting the job done.
The process of Master Scheduling defines what the company plans to
produce in specific configurations, models, and items. It specifies
the items and quantities that will be manufactured and their
schedule dates. These Master Production Schedules drive the material
plans that provide answers to the questions of what, how much and
when components, subassemblies, and raw materials should be made
available. Material Requirements Planning drives the Capacity
Requirements Planning function which compares work center loads to
the availability of equipment and personnel. The source of these
actions is a Master Scheduling function that should represent the
business strategy of Sales and Manufacturing.
The reason for this poor showing in Master Scheduling performance was identified by Pohlen and Ticknor in their paper (Parameter-Based Master Production Scheduling, pg. 17-21) presented at the APICS International Conference in 1989. A summary of the results (Figure 3) makes an important point by exposing the casual attitude Top Management has toward Master Scheduling. Most companies surveyed marginally recognize the existence of the Master Schedule. Most of those who do "use" the process seem to have limited success. The data shows that only 5% of the companies surveyed have set up the Master Scheduling module that came with their standard Manufacturing Resource Planning software! It seems that most companies are driving the Material Requirements Planning process with only the Bills of Material and Inventory information!
To be Continued
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