Master Scheduling For Manufacturers

master scheduling

In manufacturing master scheduling is a production planning process that monitors manufacturing output against customer orders and provides the baseline for production sequencing. Master scheduling dictates when a product will be produced as well as the quantities that will be produced.

The process results in a master production schedule that quantifies:

  • raw materials and parts inventories
  • work in process (WIP)
  • production resource utilization including machinery and work centers
  • team member skillsets and availability

This data is fed into the production planning and scheduling system, the production software that creates the master schedule, from connected manufacturing systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and material resource planning (MRP) information systems.

These master scheduling inputs are analyzed by powerful production scheduling algorithms and optimized to eliminate bottlenecks, reduce changeovers, improve machine utilization, minimize overtime, and adhere to purchase order deadlines.  A feasible, accurate master schedule is essential for optimizing production, minimizing production costs, and improving profitability for enterprise manufacturers.

Since master scheduling controls a significant part of manufacturing activities, master production schedules must be accurate and viable. The best master production schedule plans are created by advanced planning and scheduling software.

7 Principles of Master Scheduling

According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, there are 7 principles of master production scheduling. In their 1999 workshop dubbed "Learning to See", seven principles were listed for guiding future value streams. The principles are still relevant today. They include;

Principle 1: Produce with respect to time

Takt time refers to the time a manufacturer has to take making one unit of product for them to be able to produce enough goods that meet consumer demand.

Principle 2: Develop continuous flow where possible

In a lean manufacturing process, continuous flow is about moving single products through every single step of the entire process instead of grouping work into batches. Continuous flow allows a continuous flow of products to the market. Other benefits include value addition opportunities.

Principle 3: Use supermarkets to guide production when continuous flow fails

Continuous flow may not be possible in some instances because of factors like inherent batch requirements, order cycle time restrictions, changeover times, and limited resources. In such an instance, it is important to create buffer inventory (a supermarket) to ensure inventory flows downstream, preventing stock-out delays.

Principle 4: Send a customer schedule to one production process

The supermarket pull system creates a need to schedule individual points in a value stream through a pacemaker process characterized by replenishing what is depleted at the supermarket. In a pacemaker process, fluctuations in the production volume dictate capacity requirements upstream. Scheduling points also determine the elements in a value stream that become part of lead time from when orders are placed to when goods are ready.

Principle 5: Level production mix through distributing production of different items evenly over time

Production of different goods should be distributed evenly over a specific time. Instead of assembling every "type a" product at noon and then assembling "type b" products in the evening, production should be alternated repeatedly between batches of both products. Leveling the production mix in a pacemaker process makes it easier to respond to changing customer requirements in small lead times without the need to hold large quantities of finished goods.

Principle 6: Level production volume

Level production volume by releasing as well as withdrawing small and consistent work increments at pacemaker processes. The goal is releasing work to pacemaker processes before managing every schedule to guarantee completion. The faster you make adjustments to production, the quicker you'll be able to respond to problems impacting delivery to customers.

Principle 7: Make every part daily, every shift, hour, pallet, or pitch

This lean principle ensures changeover times are shortened, and smaller batches can be run. This, in turn, allows faster response to changes downstream. Other benefits include a reduced need for inventory in supermarkets.

To execute master scheduling properly and be able to make master production schedules that are accurate, you need the best APS software you can find. Calculating production batch sizes among other metrics is a daunting task. You need tested and proven software like Optessa with proprietary fast optimization technology that generates accurate master production plans and schedules within seconds. 

Order Sequencing

Production Sequencing

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