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Master Schedule Tool - Part 3 of 3

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GETTING SIMPLER

   In our need to become increasingly competitive, we have come to recognize that planning for the future is a non-precise science. The only thing about the future that is certain is that the future will never be what we think it will be. Being competitive in the 21st century means not only having high quality (conformance) and low cost, but also having quick response and flexibility. No longer can we compete by focusing on only one or two of these we must have all three—quality, cost, and response.

In other words, remaining competitive means mut­ing the traditional tradeoffs between cost, quality (con­formance) and response (flexibility). We must achieve excellence in all three—without tradeoff. This can be seen in Figure 3.

In our quest to become more effective in this pursuit, Deming and others taught us through Total Quality Man­agement (TQM) that cost and quality are not opposing. Rather, the identification and elimination of the cause of variability (non-conformance) is to experience a double-edged competitive advantage—lower cost and higher con­formance (quality). You can't get one without the other.

Similarly with inventory and customer service, we have learned (through MRP, MRP II, JIT, ERP, Agility) that producing more inventory (what the customers don't want) does not necessarily bring about an increase in ser­vice. It's only when we develop the ability to produce what the customers want that service improves. When you do this, not only does service improve, but inventory is re­duced as well. Again, a double-edged sword.

As the ever-increasing demands of the marketplace have become more and more difficult to achieve, we've had to get simpler and simpler in order to remain com­petitive. We've gotten rid of large amounts of non-value-adding activity, eliminating cost and shortening cycle time. This got us more responsive, making it possible to pursue the following ideal:

     Today's point of demand becomes

     Tonight's production and

     Tomorrow's shipments.

MANAGING THE MPS

   While we can never fully achieve this model, we must be ever mindful of the direction it provides. Relative toproper management of the MPS, what it has done is to substantively reduce the length of the Critical Time Fence (CTF) for many products. This means that the horizon of the MPS can often be significantly reduced, enabling it possible to change, simplify, and improve the way in which we manage the MPS.

   As the CTF shortens, we'd be well served to do all of our forecasting and planning in quadrant II and IV. We are beginning to see major strides in this direction: Through rough-cut planning, driven by S&OP, all capacity and material resources can often be properly planned to allow short-term response to cus­tomers' needs. We then, through collaborative planning and forecast review (CPFR), blur the boundaries with our customers, getting information about their specific scheduled and anticipated needs.

CONCLUSION

All of this is changing the way in which the master sched­uler does his/her job. It, at very least, diminishes the amount of non-value-adding detail that needs to be managed by the MPS process. Additionally, the role of the master scheduler is becoming more significant in its contribution to the interface between S&OP and the MPS practices. As we become more and more respon­sive with resources, this practice will continue to evolve.

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3


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