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Finite Capacity Scheduling (PCS)

The steps to implement this powerful technique are listed under the earlier subheading, Infinite and Finite Loading. Work standard accu­racy for setup and run times will determine the validity of schedules. Figure 8 shows that transit time between operations can be significant; this can be avoided by using cells where materials move immediately between machines or work stations. Queue times should not be in­cluded; these will be calculated by PCS programs as orders arrive in centers.

Use only demonstrated capacity data discussed under the heading The Planning Phase; theoretical figures are nice to know but rarely achieved, and increasing effective capacity is the primary goal of PCS. Before running wildly ahead, learn to walk by

      using only basic modules of software programs; don't turn on the
bells and whistles

      applying PCS first to critical, bottleneck centers where capacity
changes are limited

      limiting horizons to include firm customer orders plus a very few
released plant orders

      avoiding priority criteria that will introduce too much nervousness
into schedules.

Much hype and humbug has characterized the claims of proponents of PCS. Citing deficiencies in MRP programs that PCS overcomes, these gems have appeared recently:

      They run too long. Fact—not if net change and weekly time peri­
ods are used.

      Replanning causes earthquakes. Fact—attack the causes—unnecessary changes.

      They're just order launching. Fact—they only recommend release dates; a person should select work input using input/output control.

      They assume adequate capacity. Fact—their purpose is to permit determining average capacity of resources needed to support the plans.

      They use fixed order quantities. Fact—options include period order quantity (POQ), lot-for-lot (L4L), least total cost (LTC), and least unit cost (LUC) techniques.

      They can't synchronize orders. Fact—"Run with codes" can link
items to be run together.

      They use only backward scheduling. Fact—they tie the provision
of components to the parents "need" dates to show when to start
parent production or procurement.

      They react only to past-due orders. Fact—this is the task of execu­
tion, not planning.

•   Successive runs yield no better schedules. Fact—again, this is execution's job.


Those who published these comments obviously do not understand the different roles of planning and execution. They confuse precision of calculations with accuracy of data. They don't realize production operations cannot react to reschedules as fast as computers can gener­ate them. Used properly, PCS systems can be very useful in execution. Qualified people recognize that future plans are unlikely to be accu­rate, firm orders are better bases for schedules, capacity is finite, and realistic schedules are necessary for plants to be run right.


Plant operations have always been a wild environment. Murphy's Law was written in a factory. We who worked there years ago knew that if nothing bad had happened today, tomorrow would certainly be worse than normal. Our advice to peers then was, "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen." In the interim, manufacturing planning and control became a profession with a unique body of knowledge, lan­guage, laws, and principles. Understanding of execution improved, causes of upsets were attacked, and most common problems were elimi­nated. Today, many plants produce in hours what once took months, new product designs are produced as fast as marketers can promote them, and direct labor productivity rises steadily. The plant floor has been tamed.

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7

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