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Compare MRP Software : Manufacturing Requirements Planning Options

MRP Software, the nickname for Material Requirements Planning software, is a collection of integrated software modules that seek to improve manufacturing efficiency by reducing inventories and minimizing the operational costs of  producing  it.  The modules for MRP softwware, or the second generation of software MRP II, were strictly defined by the American Production Inventory and Control Society (APICS) to include the following functions: “business planning, production planning, master production scheduling, material requirements planning, capacity requirements planning and the execution and support systems for capacity and material.” Most vendors of this type of software translated these into linked software modules for General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Customer Order Management, Bills of Material Processing, Master Production Scheduling and Capacity Planning, Inventory, Purchasing/Receiving, Material Explosion, and Shop Floor Control.

MRP Software and Scheduling

Essentially MRP II focuses on obtaining the needed material within expected time frames so that work orders can be sent to the shop floor for production execution.  For make-to-order manufacturers, this means maintaining inventories of raw or in process materials so as to produce the product to customer time and cost expectations.  Manufacturers who produce to stock will initiate manufacturing orders based on forecast and on-hand physical inventory.  In either case, raw materials are purchased, received and put into production in an expected time to produce inventory to stock or to customer order. Work orders are released to the shop floor based on a production schedule taking into account plant capacity. These orders are then tracked and costs are  accumulated during the manufacturing process.

Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP) includes MRP system in a less structured environment with additional management modules that may include functions for Quality, Configuration, Engineering and others.  Additionally, ERP systems evolving a software generation later will have a database which integrates all the application modules and  is programmed in a modern programming language with an up-to-date user interface.

Master Production Scheduling (MPS) is an essential component of MRP. MPS  is a detailed display of what the plant must produce to meet customer orders or a forecast. It considers all management goals and takes into account production capacity, promised delivery dates and material availability,

Industry Requirements

All industry segments require accounting modules that are integrated and function under generally accepted industry practices.  Some manufacturers, such as aerospace, require granularity to control activities based on costs accumulated by contract. Others such as assembly operations, without fabrication, will require less cost controls due to lack of need to monitor scrap. All modules in the financial area need to have strong audit controls to ensure system integrity.

For discrete manufacturers, engaged in job shop production, a heavy emphasis will be placed on production scheduling, capacity planning and shop floor control. Assembly operations require an efficient supply chain to obtain piece parts.

MRP Software Vendors

Vendors who address MRP include Infor Syteline and Visual, Epicor, Syspro, Made2Manage, Visibility, Job ScopeDynamics GP, and Dynamics AX.

Buyers are cautioned about reading too much into vendor claims that they support MRP. There are many nuances to this function and buyers and vendors may have different definitions. This can result in significant differences in outcomes..

This puts the burden on the prospective buyer to be very precise about how they define MRP and what their expectations are in achieving it.