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Master Scheduling
Part 1 of 12


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Lean Manufacturing Articles

The master schedules are the main links between most companies' long-term plans and short-term schedules. They are the point at which forecasts meet actual cus­tomer orders, where manufacturing budgets meet cus­tomer service requirements, where management bravado meets capacity limitations. They are the few driving schedules that lead to the many detailed ac­tivities of production, purchasing, and all their sup­port services. If the master schedules are well managed, the component schedules and work center capacities will usually be under control.

When you structure your master planning system, you make some key decisions that determine how well it will work in the future. We will describe 12 key fea­tures that, when properly applied and linked together, create a master scheduling process that fits an indi­vidual company well. Attendees will learn about the 12 features, the implications of ignoring them, and what happens if they are used properly.

Master scheduling has long been the cornerstone of the decision-making, responsiveness, and manage­ment of our manufacturing systems. In the earliest manufacturing systems, we attempted to manage all the detailed parts. This led to heavy expediting, poor inventory control, and customer service problems. We learned over time that the best results came from man­aging the master schedules and reacting by exception to the need to manage individual component parts. We also learned that our scheduling systems must sup­port the logic master schedulers want to use. They must be set up to drive the activities of master scheduling, not to create obstacles for the planners.

The issues that follow are some of the keys to effec­tive master scheduling.

1. PRODUCTION PLAN-MASTER SCHEDULE LINK

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is the process for creating a game plan at a family level to reach the "best" blend of customer service levels, inventories, capacities, financial performance, and human re­sources in the overall results of a plant, division, or company. The outcome of S&OP is a formal sales plan and a formal production plan. The importance of S&OP is now well recognized, and many companies have adopted it as a key monthly planning activity.

Problem

Once the S&OP plans are created, the key is to link them directly to the master schedules. This is the crucial point at which many manufacturing companies and software vendors have a missing link. Instead of driving their master schedules with production forecasts disaggre­gated from their S&OP production plans, they load their end item sales forecasts into the top lines of their mas­ter schedules. If the production plans are exactly equal to the sales forecasts, this approach works well. When S&OP decisions are made to level production, raise or lower inventories, or build anticipation inventories for seasons, promotions, or shutdown periods, the produc­tion plans should drive the master schedules.

Implications

Loading the sales forecasts causes the advice of the sys­tem to plan master schedules that ignore the S&OP de­cisions. The exception messages tell the planners to move orders to dates that match the customer orders rather than the production decisions that were made in S&OP meetings. To plan according to the decisions that were made, the planners have to ignore the messages and firm plan MPS orders against the system's advice. Now the system is fighting the needs of the planners rather than supporting them. This can result in master schedules that violate the S&OP decisions, extreme effort on the part of master schedulers to use the system, and switch­ing off the exception messages.

Solution

Create the system links and scheduling practices to drive master schedules with the production plans. Make the master scheduling system work for you. This requires a place to store the production plans (usually in the fore­casting module or at the family level in an S&OP mod­ule) and a method for disaggregating them and loading into the master schedules.

To Be Continued

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

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14


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