As we approach the
year 2000, product life cycles seem to be getting shorter and
shorter. Therefore, the master scheduler sometimes may be faced with
a production shutdown for a product line or even an entire plant.
Plant shutdowns are management decisions sometimes difficult to
make. However once the decision is made, the management team has
other decisions to make. The team may decide that it is better to
keep the production line open and build enough product to cover the
next several periods of expected demand before shutting the line
down. Of course, the trade-off here is production efficiency versus
carrying the inventory. The results may be that it may cost less to
carry the inventory than it would be to maintain low volume
production. Once the product is built, the line could then be shut
There are other
issues that must be addressed when the demand for the product is
reduced, recalled, or stopped. What about the materials that are
already in the stockroom, the materials that are on order, the
people in production, the production facility itself, etc.? Should
the company try to rebuild the demand through aggressive public
relations and advertising or should the company just let it go?
Answers to these types of questions require more than just the
master scheduler's input.
The production plan
is management's expressed direction for the company when it comes to
manufacturing. The master schedule provides specific direction by
item, quantity, and due date. If there are several items within a
product family (the level that sales and operations planning takes
place), it can be very dangerous if the company does not insure that
management's direction is being carried out. Most companies provide
a tolerance (e.g., plus or minus 10%) to provide the master
scheduler with some latitude to overplan, use inventories, work
yield issues, etc.
companies have a way in which they meet these challenges. Watching a
successful master scheduler at work is like watching an artist paint
a beautiful seascape or mountain scene. If a true artist makes a
mistake or wants to change the picture, they merely put a few more
brush strokes to the canvas. When a skillful master scheduler
decides to change the picture, he or she makes a few terminal
keystrokes and the problem is generally solved. Why is this so true?
Successful master schedulers have mastered the art of change.
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Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02