Lean Manufacturing 306



MRP II System Requirements

One of the complaints frequently expressed by executives and engineers at continuous flow plants is that MRP II software vendors "don't understand my business." This was initially a reaction to attempts during the 1970's and 80's to force fit commercially available discrete MRP II packages into process environments. A number of feature-rich process MRP II packages have since hit the market to alleviate this problem. When this complaint is heard today, it is generally in reference to the lack of industry vertical packages, e.g., textile MRP, chemical MRP, or food MRP. During the next decade, this gap will be filled in two ways. First, process MRP II packages currently in existence will grow in functionality to include vertical industry features. Secondly, a new generation of more focused packages will spring into existence to service specific industries.

Continuous flow manufacturers today are comfortable buying and using process MRP II systems. They are generally seeing an 80% to 90% fit to their operations from off-the-shelf products. The remaining 10%-20% shortfall consists of vertical industry requirements or company-specific requirements. These are addressed through modifications or tailoring of the packaged software, or by creating new custom add-ons. IS personnel work with 4GL development tools or CASE tools provided by the vendor to fit the package to their company.

When evaluating process MRP II packages, evaluation teams look at a number of factors including implementation training and consulting support provided by the vendor, financial stability, the number of installed users, and the underlying technology used to run the package. From a product functionality standpoint, there is a standard list of features required by continuous flow manu­facturers which includes the following:

• Potency and Assay: The system should track inventory of active ingredients in both physical and active units of measure. Potency is recorded initially when a purchased lot is received, then adjusted and tracked internally. Allocations to packaging

lines or to sales shipments compensate by allocating more of a weaker lot.

• Unit of Measure Conversions: The planning, production, and receipt of a given item should be possible in any unit of measure, provided appropriate conversions are defined either generically, or by item or lot.

• Lot Control: For producers of food-grade products, this is an PDA requirement. To support recalls, the genealogy of any item should be traceable forward and backward through the process.

• Status Control: The QC lab must be able to disposition lots by status code—e.g., approved, rejected, quarantined, on hold. Statuses should have logic associated with them to prevent netting and allocation where appropriate.

• Grade Control: In industries like food, textiles, and papermaking, grades must be assignable to lots. For example, paper manufacturers control grades of paper by adding bright-eners and fillers to pulp. In food processing, grading is often a final sorting process based on color or size.

• Formula and Recipe Management: This is an area that clearly differentiates process MRP II packages from discrete packages. Requirements include scaling, version control, and the ability to have separate formulas for planning, costing, and lab development.

• Coproducts and Byproducts: An unlimited number of dif­ferent outputs should be allowed from any step in the process. Coproducts may represent different grades or packaging options for a primary product. By-products may include acids, salts, or other waste products that are scrapped, reprocessed, or sold.

• Process Costing: The continuous flow manufacturer is not interested in shift by shift or day by day costs assignable to work orders or jobs. Trying to force fit a job costing method­ology involves arbitrary allocations from cost pools which don't represent true actuals anyway. Of greater importance is the aility to capture activity (receipts, usage, shipments) on a weekly or monthly basis, assign costs on a standard or LIFO or FIFO basis, and reconcile differences.

• Master Scheduling: A high-level plan should be maintained either as a series of dates and quantities, or as firm planned orders. These have little maintenance associated with them, so the planner can easily change or delete them at will. What is not acceptable is to require work orders or batch orders in the planning cycle which must be released and closed out.

• Resource Planning: Assistance is needed in planning long-term consumption of critical production resources like elec­tricity, labor, and aggregate plant capacity. Charts or graphical screens should be provided to allow planners to quickly assess the impact of different strategies on the consumption of these resources.

To be Continued


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