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Manufacturing Simulation Game 

Quick Response Manufacturing
Part 3 of 5


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Customer Service Feedback

Many companies are producing to customer order to a larger extent than some years ago. Lot or batch size reductions and competition have contributed to this change. Good customer service has to include informing tne cus­tomer, at the earliest point in time, if the full commitment may not be met. Therefore, linkages to both production order status and projected completion (from individual customer orders) is needed to support exception reporting, and communication with the customer. This typical "job shop" facility is now a widespread need.

Master Schedule Planning

The master production schedule planning functions of the classical body of knowledge are not incorrect in terms of role or significance. They still have a role to play, particu­larly as the interface with sales and operations planning. But traditional master scheduling systems are batch pro­cessed, only periodically (e.g., weekly), with frozen zone restraints and forecast accuracy dependencies.
Under the three preceding headings, we have already discussed the increase in customer order driven produc­tion, and associated resource analysis aspects. But the overall need is for more dynamic and interactive functions that can be more sensitive to the customer order driven environment of Quick Response. Demand management must be more focused toward order management. The MPSP functions must follow this trend, and provide the functional assistance that we have just discussed.

Planning and Scheduling

Time phased planning of requirements is still key for effective utilization of resources while maintaining service level. Both capacity and materials availability need to be analyzed in this way.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP) and Capacity Re­quirements Planning (CRP) are the generally accepted tools, but suffer from severe constraints in the make to order environment. In some cases, particularly textile mills (weaving, knitting, and finishing) the usual MRP/ CRP program calculations are unusable. There are sub­stantive reasons for the opinion that "MRP packages doesn't work in our business."

The typical planning system approach (i.e., MRPII), is based on the master schedule. It calculates material schedules, allows decision inputs, and then separately performs detailed capacity (requirements) planning. But why do we have to separate these two functions? If you are a manufacturer with many products/variants and few materials (the inverted triangle) you are usually going to first decide on when you have capacity to produce, then deal with materials. Within the fiber/textile/apparel chain (and process oriented businesses) the earlier stages of the production chain (i.e., fiber/yarn/fabric/finishing) are usu­ally planned in this way (i.e., capacity first, material second).

Also, the lead time offset used in (MRP) scheduling of materials and the lot sizing techniques are inappropriate to manufacturers who have many relatively slow machines making similar products, such as in spinning and weaving. The planner decision process must look at requested quan­tities and dates, and then consider such variables as the number of machines to use, and loom processing and occupancy (or current/planned warp setup) in calculations. Instead of the classical materials planning multilevel processing and recommendations, the practitioner really needs to perform level by level simulations, by identifying opportunities to add to existingproduction, change number of machines, and so on. Order release becomes a different task. It has to be supported by the ability to change these parameters, make backward or forward scheduling calcu­lations, change dates/quantities and review load against capacity at each level of material or production. All this has to be interactive, cumulative and order based, not batch processing with results next morning.

In many situations the lack of these facilities in planning has contributed to the popularity of the so-called finite planning systems. If you could interactively perform scheduling simulations such as we have described, without reliance on batch MRP/CRP techniques, the need for finite planning software would probably be reduced. A further symptom of these MRP inadequacies are systems where planning/execution integration is basic or non-existent. The current popularity of separate manufacturing execu­tion systems is also due, in some part, to the cumbersome order release facilities of typical MRPII packages.

To Be Continued


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