Friday, July 02, 2004

Interesting PhD thesis

Quite the PhD work of Robert Bruce Johnston on planning systems.

When I took up my first serious computing position in manufacturing in 1982, I was led to the training room and shown a training video explaining the concept of Manufacturing Resource Planning, or MRP II. The company was implementing the IBM MAPICS manufacturing package which supported the MRP II concept. The video explained the idea that if a company has formalised what it wants to make, how its products are made, and how many of the parts involved are in stock, it is a simple information processing task to work out an action plan for the purchase of materials, the fabrication of parts and the assembly of finished items, and that this approach to manufacturing operations management promised immense reductions in buffer stocks that are required when purchasing and manufacturing activities are not thus coordinated. [...]

I spent the next thirteen years trying to implement this self-evident idea in about a half a dozen mid-size batch repetitive manufacturing companies, first as an employee and then as a consulting analyst / project manager. While most of these companies received substantial benefits from the implementation of the computerised infra-structure systems necessitated by the MRP II concept, all of them had difficulty in achieving the MRP II vision, or keeping it working once implemented.

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