Manufacturing Master Schedule




In concept, Company C's product flows a lot like Company B's. The product is a large assembly made up of subassemblies and other component parts. The product moves from one assembly position to another. But, unlike Company B's product, Company C's is not always defined as to its final configuration until it is almost ready to go into work. If Company C waited until the final configuration was known before introducing the order into the system, the lead times for the materials would be compromised, if not totally consumed. To understand Company C's options, we must first understand the products.

The products that the company produces fall into three major families; overseas containers, trailers and stationary containers. The basic elements of each family of products is the same despite what the end configuration may be. For example, every overseas container has a family of basic components that make up a large portion of its cost. Coincidentally, the components have long lead times. One of those components is required at the front end of the process; work cannot begin without it. The same logic applies to the other product lines.

Company C has a couple of problems:

1. The late definition of the final product (engineered to order).

2. The long lead times of the key components. Again, MPS and BOM techniques can be used to address the issues.

Scheduling Company C

Even though the end products are engineered-to-order, at some point in their process they are basically the same. By identifying the "sameness" we are able to capture those items in a planning bill of material that is assigned a phantom part number. The Master Scheduler then has to calculate how long the order horizon must be in order to provide comfortable visibility of long lead items. With the input from Sales and Marketing, the number of products to be taken over the order horizon are estimated. It is important to note that Sales and Marketing did not have to predict which specific end configurations would be taken, only the gross number of units by family. At this time the Master Scheduler introduced planning orders into the system for the forecasted products. MRP, then, produced requirements for the common and long lead time items via the planning bills of material. 

With this approach the common and long lead items are routinely ordered without disruption. As the end configuration becomes clear there is plenty of planning resource available to process the requirements for the peculiar items.


In each of the cases master scheduling and bill of material techniques were employed to provide not only control of existing situations, but to create new situations that offer cost reduction potentials. It is important to note that even though formal, computer-based systems make these jobs easier, they are not mandatory. The concepts apply manually just as well as in an automated environment. Master scheduling and bills of material should not be viewed as some burdensome activity that has to be done to support MRP. They should be looked upon as opportunities to improve the operation. The MPS and BOM are two "no cost" tools that must be exploited if a company is to maximize its operating efficiency and reduce cycle times.


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