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Are You Watching Your Company’s MRP Game Within the Game?

By Mike Hayes July 12, 2016 by Kelly Kuhlman

Humans, by nature, are focused on outcomes; especially in sports. Take baseball, for instance: the number of wins, loses, batting average, a pitcher’s ERA; the list goes on.  In America’s game, there is another dimension that most fans don’t pay attention to, “The game within the game.” There have been dozens of books published about the topic. The actions, movements, looks, and activities that occur prior to pitching being delivered, that most fans don’t notice, are an influential aspect of the game. How the pitcher approaches the mound, how the batter approaches the plate, the delivery of the sign to the pitcher, the batter stepping out of the box prior to the pitch; all impact the game, but they are not related to how the ball is delivered to the plate. While most fans are watching the pitch being thrown anticipating the outcome, I have always found it fascinating to watch the ancillary activities happening not related to the pitch, but impacting the game none the less. Understanding this dimension of the game separates good players from great ones.

The same holds true for most Material Requirements Planning (MRP) runs. Many supply chain professionals focus on the results:

  • Are there new supply elements that will not be here in time?
  • How did that planned order drop in?
  • Why is that date being proposed?

As in baseball, there is a “game within the game” in MRP runs. To become a better supply chain professional, one must understand the dimensions of it.

Prior to the Material Requirements Planning run, a number of questions should be asked. The answers will determine the success of the MRP run.

  • Are planned delivery times in the material master correct?
  • Is production reporting completed timely?
  • Are requirement dates reasonable?
  • Do the routings reflect reality as well as the work center capacity data?
  • Are there past due production orders or purchase orders?
  • Is scheduling in the past allowed?

If the answers to the aforementioned questions are yes, the supply chain is probably unbalanced.

To win with MRP, supply and demand must be balanced, exception messages kept to a minimum, and dates must accurately reflective supply chain capabilities.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Get supplier lead times right by measuring actual delivery times and updating them.
  • Ensure routings reflect demonstrated capabilities, including move and queue times.
  • Push for real-time reporting of transactions in production as ,well as good receipts from suppliers.
  • Keep the dates on supply elements evergreen and reflective of reality.
  • Define the MRP types and Lot sizes for desired results.

By understanding the MRP “game within the game,” good supply chain managers will be able to become great ones.

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