The United States' manufacturing community
moves fast, maybe too fast at times. In our haste to find the
latest whiz-bang system to solve our problems, we tend to overlook
the obvious—the basics. The master production schedule (MPS) and
the bill of material (BOM) are two of the most basic elements of
manufacturing control. (Note: Throughout this paper, references
to the BOM will mean the manufacturing bill of material.) They
can, and should, be used to gain control of the company. This
paper is not an introduction to master production scheduling or
bills of material; it is assumed that these disciplines exist in
one's environment. This paper cites three case studies where
different MPS and BOM techniques were utilized to control
Application of the Concepts
Master Production Scheduling 101 tells us that
every company has resources that have to be coordinated in order
for the company to operate effectively. The first step, then, is
to identify those items that should be mastered scheduled. The
items could be raw materials, parts or assemblies. Or, they could
be items that are less conventional, such as a bottleneck resource
or a process, like the release of drawings from Engineering. In
any case, the application of the concept is to master schedule
those items that are key to regulating the business.
The MPS and BOM compliment each other. The BOM
is the tool that makes the execution of the MPS possible. Once the
MPS items have been identified, bills of material must be
constructed to support them. This is an area of the concept
application that typically causes organizational controversy,
because bills of material must represent the way the product is
built, not the way it is engineered or costed. Costing structures
may have to change along with the bill of material. It is also
safe to assume that the "as built" configuration of the
products represented in the BOM's will be different than the
"as designed" configurations maintained by Design
Engineering. This condition is certainly acceptable, but it is at
times difficult to accept by the engineers. Engineering, like all
other support departments, must remember that a manufacturing
company manufactures for a living. Engineering, Finance, Sales,
Materials, and others, are steps within the manufacturing
continuum. When any of these disciplines isolates themselves from
the continuum, problems arise, and the process will be disrupted.
The results from these disruptions almost always carry dollar
signs with them. If the understanding of these relationships does
not exist in one's company, then all affected parties must be
educated in the principles, quickly!
The companies referred to in this document are
all manufacturing entities, but of significantly different
character from each other. A brief profile of each will be
Company A is an automotive, original equipment
manufacturer. This company produces fiberglass-reinforced plastic
components for a variety of customers. They have a high-volume,
repetitive process. The company produces its own molding compound,
which it molds many of its own parts. The parts
are combined with other purchased parts in an assembly process.
The assembled products are then painted in a variety of colors for
shipment. The product structure is simple. The total part number
population is less than 1000. The company employs about 800
people, and has a sales volume of about $70 million per year.
Company B is an aerospace and defense
subcontractor. The company produces large airframe structures for
prime contractors. The company (at the time of the study) had
eight end items that move at relatively slow rates out the door.
One to three shipments of finished products per week was typical.
Each of the products had a very complex structure, with 5,000 to
15,000 components. Company B produced a large portion of its own
components. Some of the components were machined parts; others,
sheet metal; still others, bonded assemblies. The company made its
profits in the final assembly portion of its business. The company
employed over 7000 people at its peak, with a sales volume of
about $700 million per year.
Company C produces pressurized containers for the industrial
gas market. The product structures are fairly simple and the part
number population moderate (3000 items). The company has shipped
five to seven end products per month. There are basically three
distinct product lines. Each product line has "models"
that are different depending upon the customer. Company C is primarily
an assembly shop, making very few of their components in-house.
The company employed about 170 people and had a sales volume of
about $25 million per year.
To be Continued
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