World Class Master Scheduling: Best Practices and Lean Six Sigma Continuous Improvement

Chapter 5: The Details Behind Master Scheduling

Master scheduling is the process of turning the top management plans into details that can be manufactured in the proper sequence to maximize both efficiency and customer service. This sounds like a tall order and it is. A major software supplier advertises that its software eliminates the need for a master schedule. I find this very interesting, especially since I have some familiarity with the software. While interesting, this concept is not realistic. In businesses that are changing, there is both the need to massage the master production schedule (MPS) and a requirement to align mix according to changes in the market expectations. While much of this can be done through spreadsheet capability, the fact remains that it still needs to be done. Technology may someday replace much of the master scheduler s functional duties, and there is no argument that it is gaining on this objective every year, but at the end of the day, the MPS will still remain. Even in a kanban fully flexible workplace, the MPS still drives available rough-cut capacity and financial plans going forward. No business runs blind, and the MPS is the lens to make the vision as clear as possible.


A basic principle of good master scheduling is understanding the simple concept of available to promise (ATP). A simple concept, ATP is the linkage between reality and customer promises. Years ago, ATP was especially important. In those days of long lead time and the strict use of material requirements planning...