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There are normally three different ways to integrate the configured pegged demands with the host:

Least Modification of a Legacy MRP System

A majority of host MRP vendors choose to take the path of least resistance to a bolt-on configuration solution (and often the same with their own internal configurator module). They require establish­ment or an upload of a unique item master for hard or onetime B/M structures and routings. With these hard onetime structures in place, nor­mal MRP batch functionality can continue for cost buildups, require­ments planning, WIP allocation, and shop paper release processing.

The obvious disadvantage of this technique is that it continually builds up hard assembly structures and routings that are of little fur­ther use, requiring excessive upload, maintenance, and low-level code continuity processing. It also forces the CTP planning into batched net-change cycles typical of stocked forecasted products. This, how­ever, is not responsive enough for to-order CTP scheduling. The struc­turing of multilevel MRP netting is complicated by the use of pseudos and phantoms, requiring still more item masters. Front-end sales configurators that merely claim to somehow "pitch" their transac­tions to the MRP host often leave this huge gap that can become a disastrous oversight.
Direct Uploading of Mfg-Orders

Only a few MRP systems, normally those emanating from a job-shop architecture, provide direct input of M/O material allocations and routing operations without the need for a hard part number item master preloaded for each sales order line item. Some of these MRP systems were specifically designed to anchor the M/O directly from the sales order line-item file. Careful attention, how­ever, needs to be given to time-phased allocation logic, whereby al­locations are often merely stacked up in a current bucket balance. Provision also needs to be made to build cost-of-sales for invoicing from only the M/O records. The advantage of this host architecture is that files do not build up with hard onetime structures, since no hard I/M, B/M, or routing records need to be loaded and subsequently maintained.

If the Company Is Progressing Toward Mass Customization, Simplification, and a FLOW Focused Factory Plant Layout, a Completely Fresh Approach Is Now Available to Achieve Desired Cycle Time Reduction
See figure 3. For product families that are built-to-order in these FLOW Focused Factories, simplification of scheduling and control paperwork is a major objective. For example, labor reporting by part or order num­ber becomes a non-value-added activity where products are mix-sched­uled within a family line. Feedback reporting transactions, even though bar-coding may be employed, is also a non-value-added activity. Most component material will be consumed from line stock and visually replenished using kanban.

Even though most component material is JIT stocked (figure 4) and consumed on the line, satisfactory accounting measurement of la­bor performance and material usage variances are still supported with timely and accurate charge-off (backfiushed) transactions. These are now summarized by the configurator and uploaded asynchronously to the host (often material usage as a simplistic component unplanned issue). If the configurator has generated the routing standards and has the downloaded component costs, then current cost-of-sales values are built on the fly and included in the sales order line-item transaction records. At billing time, the host system merely applies the COS from the uploaded SOE record. It eliminates the need for a batched rolled-up COS posted to a onetime unique item master for each line-item. Of course, uploading and maintenance of the attendant MRP B/M-Rtg records required to generate the COS is completely eliminated.


Shop floor parts lists, manufacturing instructions (routings), and rule-based operator sequences are "broadcast" directly to the FLOW Focused Factory cells from the configurator. They had been scheduled under CTP control and sequenced for setup considerations with selectable attributes by production management. The objective is to have not more than sev­eral hours of paperwork committed (printed) in any cell. This is the most effective and simplistic way possible to facilitate unprecedented resched­uling flexibility and status feedback. There is little need to develop and maintain a WIP file (in to-order FLOW Focused Factories), which are otherwise normally required to support an unnecessary and non-value-added cumbersome batch ERP functionality.

Many users and practitioners, after experiencing results with sim­plified configure-to-order FLOW Focused Factories, are seriously ques­tioning the relevance of bolt-on ERP enhancers such as advanced plan­ners (APS), planning B/M forecasting, fast exploders, finite loaders, supply chain optimizers, and bar-coded labor feedback execution sys­tems (MES). They are proving to be of little value-added in short cycle "to-order" FLOW Focused Factories that have drastically reduced their backlogs. These symptom solving systems all depend upon B/M-Rtg's and WIP files, which are being simplified out of existence! They are being replaced by an industrial-strength configurator that, by itself, internally performs costing, promising, scheduling, and sequencing for FLOW Focused Factories!

If, however, the total manufacturing cycle time remains extensive (even after simplification efforts relating to complexity of the prod­uct), the use of more sophisticated advanced planners (APS) may be warranted—fed directly from the configurator's material and load de­mand file. The configurator then relegates to event-driven customer promising with online real-time (re)calculations of rough-cut avail­ability commitments prior to frequent batch runs of the advanced plan­ner. In any case, the configurator alerts the order entry planning func­tion to abnormal peak overloads that the flow-line or kanban order-point replenishment strategy might not be able to cover!

If forecasting of longer lead time purchased or fabricated in-house componentry is still required, bottom-up rules can be used to auto­matically develop feature percentage planning multipliers. A major advantage lies in the capability to generate selected commodity fore­casts on an inquiry basis as needed to support direct vendor scheduling and purchasing negotiations.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01


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