The 7 Steps of Master Production Scheduling

7 master production scheduling steps infographic

What Is Master Production Scheduling?

Master production scheduling is a production planning process that creates a central document a master production schedule or MPS that tells you what make to stock or sales orders you need to manufacture, what quantity of these products your factory needs to produce, and when these products need to be completed.

What Is the Output of the Master Production Scheduling Process?

Outputs from the master scheduling process include:

  • The maximum number of make to stock / sales orders that the shop floor can fulfill during the allotted time horizon
  • Potential production bottlenecks and constraints
  • Work centers where resource allocation needs to be optimized to improve throughput
  • Inventory levels for raw materials, work in process (WIP) and completed products at different stages of the production process

Sophisticated master production scheduling significantly improves manufacturing performance, because these outputs make up the MPS. The MPS serves as the foundation for an accurate production plan, which in terms serves as the basis for generating consistent, feasible schedules.

Is MPS a Planning or Scheduling Process?

Despite its name, master production scheduling is a planning process, which means it works a little differently from a standard detailed scheduling process.

In most situations, production scheduling provides details on how to execute a specific plan of action during the manufacturing operation. To achieve this, the schedule will need to explore minute details, breaking up time into very short increments, sometimes as short as just a few seconds. The full schedule will generally cover the next one week to two months of operations, making this a short-term resource.

Production planning is more focused on the mid-term future, generally the next three months to one year of operations. As a result, planning does not go into the fine details in the way that scheduling does and instead focuses on the core elements of manufacturing i.e., what is being produced, how many units are needed, and how many units have already been produced.  The master production schedule will also provide information on where production should take place and when the operation should be implemented.

It may be confusing but master production scheduling is a production planning process and not a production scheduling process.

What Manufacturing Systems are Involved in the Master Production Scheduling Process?

There is no such thing as a standalone master scheduling software. Instead MPS is executed in an advanced planning and scheduling software (APS) system and that system is integrated with the MRP, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

Manufacturing Resource Planning Systems

The MRP system and material requirement planning process provide visibility into the availability of manufacturing resources and components. This allows the master productions scheduling process to accurately calculate what can be produced with the on-hand inventories.

More sophisticated production planning software allows master productions scheduling to create master data that considers the Bill of Material (BOM) against the currently available or planned supply. Safety stock and replenishment rules are included in the calculations. The master production schedule can also serve as a trigger for material planning and makes sure that new materials are ordered from the suppliers in a timely manner.

Enterprise Resource Planning Systems

In addition, the master production schedule will work alongside enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to ensure sufficient resources, including financing and staffing, are allocated to the project. While creating the MPS document, teams will need to refer to ERP systems to ensure that appropriate resources are available at predefined points along the project timeline.

Manufacturing Execution Systems

Once the schedule is developed and the manufacturing process is begun, the project can be tracked using a manufacturing execution system (MES). The MES tracks a purchase order from the very beginning of the manufacturing process, through the pre-determined routing and operations in the factory, all the way until it is packaged and ready to be shipped.

The MES collects performance data from machinery and workers, such as cycle times, downtime, and efficiency. This information is used to optimize the master production schedule for future projects.

What Inputs are Needed for Master Production Scheduling

You will need to draw upon existing data as you build your MPS. While the MPS is a vital resource for your business, it relies upon accurate data inputs. These inputs include:

  • Current Inventory Data the number of products you already have in stock and ready for delivery
  • Demand Predictions how much customer demand you expect over a set time period, and how many orders you need to fulfill
  • Existing Demand how many orders have already been placed. Then, factor this into your demand predictions.
  • Viable Production Targets the number of items you will need to produce over the forecasting period. The number should achieve an effective balance, meeting demand without creating an unmanageable surplus.

The 7 Steps of Master Production Scheduling

Crafting an effective MPS is achievable in seven straightforward steps.

1. Understand and Define Your Products

Your master production schedule depends upon an in-depth knowledge of your products and clear definitions for product categories and product groups. You'll need to form strict categories and definitions for your products before you can craft an MPS.

Organize your products into categories i.e., a specific type of product. Within these categories, you can define similar products together to create product groups.

2. Set Your Lead Time Targets

When you manufacture your products, you will need to know how long it is going to take a complete a batch. What's more, you'll need to know this with a relatively high degree of accuracy so that you can pass this information on to your clients.

Consider how long each component of the manufacturing process will take you to complete. Include the following:

  • After the order is placed, how long it takes to get the relevant materials together
  • How long it takes to turn these materials into a manufactured product
  • How long it takes for the product to be packaged and sealed, including quality control checks
  • How long it takes for the packaged products to be made ready for delivery
  • How long it takes for delivery to the customer

These different components added together will give you your total lead time i.e., the time taken from when the order is placed to the customer receiving the product. Draw upon past experience and manufacturing data to define these lead times in an accurate way.

3. Assess Public Demand and Decide Upon the Required Rate of Production

If your product is already in demand among your customers, you will need to be capable of a high rate of production. This high rate of production will help you to ensure that your product does not become sold out and remains available to customers. Losing out on sales because you cannot produce enough of your product represents a missed opportunity.

On the other hand, if demand is low, your rate of production will need to reflect this. Developing and delivering too many products, which are then difficult for retailers to sell, is a waste of money and resources.

With this in mind, you need to assess the public demand for your product and accurately calculate how many items you will be producing over a set time period.

4. Make Sure That Available Resources Align with Production Rate

Once the required rate of production has been calculated for each product category and product group, plan the resources needed to fulfill this. For some product groups, production rates may need to be in excess of normal levels in order to keep retailer shelves well-stocked with products. In this step of the process, you'll have to ascertain how feasible this is with your current levels of available resources.

You may need to expand the levels of resources available to your teams. Or you may need to reallocate resources from lower demand production chains to higher ones in order to hit your targets. This step will involve assessing what resources you currently have available and how you can optimize this ahead of the next round of production.

5. Identify Production Shortfalls and Troubleshoot These Problem Areas

There may be sections of your production line that cannot meet demand. These problems may relate to individual components that are particularly difficult or time-consuming to manufacture, or they might be more widespread covering the entire production line.

You will need to be able to recognize how to overcome these problems and troubleshoot these issues. This begins by identifying problem areas and then calculating how you can free up resources to increase the rate of production, or streamline and optimize the method of production. It's not unusual to find production shortfalls within the manufacturing chain, so don't panic simply adopt a pragmatic approach to overcoming these issues.

6. Use Quantitative and Qualitative Data To Craft Your MPS

During the first steps of this guide, you have gathered a significant amount of information and data. This data is both quantitative i.e., the hard numbers relating to production rates, customer demand, and resource availability and qualitative. The qualitative data refers to the product categories and groups, as well as retail partner requests and other information.

You can draw upon all of this data as you create your master production schedule. This schedule will outline which products are to be manufactured, viable lead times for all these products, rates of production based on demand, available resources, resource reallocation plans, and potential problem areas during manufacture. In essence, this will become the master sheet that your entire production operation will follow.

7. Check, Assess and Adapt Your MPS During the Production Operation

The first draft of your MPS is completed after Step 6, and the manufacturing operation can begin. However, the MPS is not a static document. Instead, it is designed to grow and evolve over time as you fine-tune your processes. This is only possible with a continual policy of monitoring, assessing and adapting.

For example, you may find that your lead time calculations were not quite accurate enough, and so you will need to alter these. You may also find that your predictions regarding resource requirements were incorrect, and this will need to be updated. All of these pieces of information can be altered and updated as the operation progresses, making the MPS document more and more valuable to your team.

Reach Out to Optessa and Start Optimising Your Master Production Scheduling

Manufacturing operations that consistently generate accurate master production schedule significantly reduce production costs and boost profitability.

Optessa's enables enterprise manufacturers to streamline and optimize their master production scheduling with intuitive advanced planning and scheduling software. Reach out to the team and find out more.

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