Master Production Schedule: A Complete Guide

A master production schedule is a schedule that is created based on firm orders or future demands.

Master production schedule should be aligned with your production job scheduling.

The process of creating a Master Production Schedule (MPS) is about preparing an optimal production plan. It create a baseline for accurate scheduling of labor, machinery, and material.

Master production schedule meaning:

According to Oxford Dictionary of Business and Management, master production schedule means making plans to drive the operation forward. Here, MPS plan covers: what is assembled, what is made, and what is bought in.

A master production plan is part of the manufacturing planning process and reflects sales forecasts.

A master production schedule determines the type and the number of units that should be produced in a timeframe.

Master Production schedule example:

Here is a master production schedule example, in an automotive company a master production schedule plans for the production of different car models. To create a master production schedule, they look at the demand for each model based on its sales history and market trends.

Let’s say the MPS determines that 10,000 units of model A cars are needed to address the market need for the next 6 months. Accordingly, the production team can look at their resources, and inventory to make schedules and meet the MPS plan.

Master Production Planning and Customer Demands

Clearly, customer preferences and sale history play an important role in making a master production plan.

Similarly, MPS reflects seasonal demand increases in a set of products.

A master production plan is regularly updated to meet the change in demands, production capacity, and inventory levels.

Implementing MPS involves modifying production to accommodate the necessary volume of units needed.

To summarize, a master production schedule in operations management is a top-level plan. It is between leadership, logistics, shop supervision, production, and procurement.

As a result, it should be integrated into existing open jobs, inventory levels, lead time, bills of material, production capacity, and other scheduling variables.

Master Production Schedule in manufacturing production
Master Production Schedule and Job Scheduling in Production

Master Production Schedule and Job Scheduling

Manufacturers have different needs in their job and resource scheduling.

Some manufacturers face more challenges in scheduling their labor. Others might have issues with parts availability or equipment planning.

The function of a master production schedule (MPS) is important for effective production planning and inventory management. By providing a detailed plan, the MPS optimizes production scheduling, inventory control, and customer demand fulfillment. It bridges sales forecasts and production plans and helps to maximize production capacity, minimize inventory costs, and meet customer expectations. It drives operation efficiency, resource allocation, and overall manufacturing success.

In some industries, the requirements of master production planning add to the complexity of the overall job shop scheduling. Here, manufacturers with high production variability experience further obstacles.

Master Planning Scheduling

MPS planning requires different strategies based on the type of manufacturing environment. There are strategies and research such as the “time fences approach” that can help to “change MPS for companies with the MTS and MTO strategies simultaneously.

The time fences approach allows companies to look at the position of orders on the existing MPS and determine whether the orders can be accepted or rejected.

But overall, the MPS planning strategy in Make to Stock (MTS) is different from make-to-order (MTO).

Here is some more detail on the MPS based on different manufacturing:

  • Make-To-Order manufacturing (MTO): Companies that use a Make-to-Order (MTO) strategy usually create a production schedule once they receive an order
  • Make-To-Stock (MTS): Companies with Make-to-Stock (MTS) strategy develop production schedules based on estimated demand, ensuring that customer requirements can be fulfilled using existing stock products.
  • Engineering-To-Order (ETO): They utilize a customized Master Production Schedule (MPS) tailored to the unique requirements of each engineering project.
  • Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO): Repair and service industries approach the MPS by assessing demand, planning capacity, prioritizing tasks, scheduling technicians, and tracking progress for efficient customer service.
  • Job Shops: Job shops use flexible scheduling techniques, such as priority rules or automated and advanced scheduling, to optimize production efficiency and ensure on-time delivery.

Job scheduling software uses data from the master production schedule, bill of materials, inventory, and other production planning.

As an outcome, job scheduling creates an optimized plan. This plan meets the master production schedule and considers all other criteria in the production.

Objectives of Master Production Schedule

John F. Proud and Eric Deutsch in their book, Master Planning and Scheduling, summarize the objective of MPS into 20 categories. 
Accordingly, here are 10 objectives of Master Planning and Schedule:

  1. Break down overall demand and supply plans into specific and detailed plans and schedules.
  2. Create a feasible master supply plan at the product subfamily level, outlining the schedule by weeks and months.
  3. Develop an achievable master supply schedule at either the grouping or stock-keeping unit level, specifying the timeline in days and weeks.
  4. Ensure the availability of capacity, including tooling
  5. Ensure the availability of materials at the start of the production process.
  6. Synchronize new product releases, including product testing, with the production requirements and timelines.
  7. Ensure that the due dates for materials align with the material need dates, ensuring timely availability for production.
  8. Ensure that the planned capacity matches the required capacity, aligning production capabilities with the demand to meet operational needs.
  9. Optimize both the master supply plan and schedule by enhancing stability, order creation, rescheduling, and load leveling processes for efficient production operation.
  10. Support demand management in establishing priorities when demand exceeds the company’s supply capabilities. This ensures the effective allocation of resources and helps with managing customer expectations.

Importance of Master Production Schedule

The master production schedule (MPS) provides high-level production planning. However, job scheduling helps companies manage their production plan at a detailed level. A powerful job scheduling software makes sure the master production plan is met.

Many companies rely on the personal experience and skills of their team and a spreadsheet to carry out their scheduling process. The manual process could be enough for very small manufacturing operations with limited products.

But for an operation with more than a few products, manual scheduling can be costly.

Using manual scheduling in a complex operation process leads to higher idle time and production costs.

In a changing economy, staying competitive means making the best use of your existing resources and minimizing idle time. This means creating an optimized scheduling plan and utilizing your resources efficiently.

Production Change and Scheduling Challenges

Make-to-order, engineer-to-order manufacturing job shops, and service industries face more scheduling challenges due to the:

  • Complexities in Planning: The varied nature of production increases the overall complexities from production planning, and scheduling, to ordering raw materials.
  • Budgeting and Estimation: Working with different customer orders makes forecasting and budgeting challenging.
  • Variability in Scheduling: Different customer orders create more complex scheduling scenarios. Again, in the service industries accepting an emergency service job might lead to other unexpected changes. For example, accepting an emergency electric motor repair could affect all the schedules.

Note: It would be valuable to see the effect of unexpected changes months ahead in production. Having job scheduling software with what-if scenarios can help in such decision-making. 

Streamlining Production Planning and Execution Processes

Job variability and changing job priorities are best handled with automated job scheduling.

Automated job scheduling software reduces production costs by optimizing labor and resource assignments. To summarize, automated job scheduling software:

  • Minimize total production cost: by make optimizing resources
  • Reduce idle time
  • Reduce inventory costs
  • meet customer demands

Achieving High Visibility and Control over Manufacturing Operations

The right planning and scheduling software streamlines the production schedule and gives big-picture insights.

Such understanding of your production could be invaluable in day-to-day decision-making.

Since these types of production insight could vary depending on the software. To illustrate, we include a list of manufacturing insights that QShop offers as part of its job scheduling platform:

  • Visibility on the status of all tasks related to a customer order
  • Visibility over equipment bottlenecks and other machinery related restrains
  • Visibility over the number of hours and jobs assigned to employees.
  • Visibility over the sales numbers for upcoming weeks and months based on the current schedule
  • Visibility over your next upcoming sales number
  • Visibility over future purchase orders

Moreover, with automated job scheduling, you can test various scenarios. This gives your visibility over your budget before you commit to a production schedule. 

Boost Your Customer Service with Advanced Order Commitment

Research in optimizing manufacturing processes shows that placing an advance order commitment (AOC) policy is an effective way to optimize production.

This is more applicable in operations that deal with dynamic customer demands and changing production. Examples are M-T-O, E-T-O, job shops, and service industries.

Advance order commitment (AOC) is about committing purchase orders to vendors in advance. This practice reduces wait time and inventory costs.

For example, QShop job scheduling software gives visibility over future plan production orders. In a word, with QShop you can see your production line from the next 3 to 12 months.

Having visibility over future production is important in placing an AOC policy.

Because you can place orders with vendors months ahead of time.

Equally, placing orders ahead of time removes delay due to the vendor’s “replenishment lead-time.” Replenishment lead time is the time required for your order to be ready. It is the time between when you place an order and when it is available. Removing delays due to replenishment lead time ensures that customer deadlines are met.