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Proceedings of the 7 th Asia Pacific Industrial Engineering and Management Systems Conference 2006 17-20 December 2006, Bangkok, Thailand

Synchronous Manufacturing- A Radical Analysis Tool for an Industrial Engineer

B Ravishankar† Asst Professor Dept of Industrial Engineering BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore India +91-80-26622130 ext. 2062, Email: ravi36@gmail.com

Ashok Mehatha Asst Professor Dept of Industrial Engineering Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology, Tumkur India +91-0816-2254718, Email: a_mehatha@yahoo.co.in

Abstract. The twentieth century focused on achieving total customer satisfaction and also developed unique manufacturing processes. This century focuses on maximizing deliveries from the designed processes more harmoniously than ever with very high efficiency. Synchronous manufacturing mainly focuses largely on this arena and it is proved by many researchers across the world that it is a perfect harmonizing concept for maximizing profit and enhancing productivity. Actually this is vital for an Industrial Engineer to capitalize the concept with scientific analysis. This paper focuses on how an Industrial Engineer can adopt Synchronous manufacturing as a radical analysis tool. The paper focuses on how synchronousity can be achieved in a typical MRP environment.

Keywords: Synchronousity Index, MRP Runs, Delay Analyses, Repetitive Manufacturing, Modeling, and MRP schedules.



Synchronous Manufacturing is a Manufacturing process designed to achieve harmony in production process. This essentially assimilates all vital elements of a manufacturing Industry to achieve the goals and objectives of the Company. Synchronous Manufacturing involves all wings of the organization to achieve higher competitive advantage, ROI and Net Profit. It focuses around bottleneck resources and efficient utilization of those resources that are most constraining and prevent additional production. Synchronous Manufacturing offers industrial engineers to establish shop schedules that actually work and schedules that remain valid despite data inaccuracy, people being absent, machine breakdowns and processes generating scrap which leads to unsynchronocity. Synchronous Manufacturing schedules call for shorter lead times, faster flow and low inventory. This approach is typically fast to implement and can take the advantage of software engineering principles. Synchronous Manufacturing approach involves every aspect of the business-from sales and marketing through purchases, production, shipping, research and development, human

†: Corresponding Author


resources etc-in working together to a degree that most managers can only imagine.


The resources in an industry are very vital especially in dynamically changing world, serious when dealing with multi variate problems and solving the same. Industrial Engg is the right philosophy to deal with such a pressure- creating atmosphere. Industrial engineers contribute to saving the sinking ship and can also make it a profitable venture. Organizations growth really focuses on the analyzing capability of a such group of Industrial engineers. Synchronous manufacturing helps Industrial engineers to apply the concepts of Theory of constraints and solve multi variable manufacturing algorithms.

2.1 Exploring Analyses Capability

It is well known and digested and well proven that knowledge is information and is very vital. These days processes yield tons and tons of vital data that emerge out

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from a business process. Analysing these vital data is discovering own self. This is the realisation of one self in the context required at right stage. Thus engineering analyses should be vital and key to right decisions and strategy design

2.1.1 Current Scenario

Industrial Engineers quite often execute stringent strategies to mitigate problems in achieving higher productivity due to poor synchronization of various elements such as high inventory, long lead times, poor customer service, poor on time delivery etc.,

The traditional or MRP approach call for large inventory buffer at each workstation to the problem of random fluctuations and dependent events.

It is felt by eminent scientists like Fraizer et al., that the past two decades has seen MRP as the widely used production and inventory-planning tool. At the planning stage, a pull system MRP coordinates material management with production control and minimizes inventories. But in practice, at the operation level, many manufacturers using MRP experience large inventories and work centers still

push batches to their subsequent ones. Another disadvantage is that MRP ignores capacity constraints to great extent we will extend this idea to synchronous analysis and its benefits to an Industrial engineer. Even though JIT does an excellent job in reducing lead times and work in process it has got several disadvantages

1. It is limited to repetitive manufacturing

2. It requires a stable production level [usually about a month long].

3. It does not allow much flexibility in the products produced [products must be similar with a limited number of options].

4. Completed work must be stored on the down stream side of each work station to be pulled by the next work station.

5. Vendors need to be located nearby because the system depends on smaller, more frequent delivery.

6. Moreover JIT applies a trial and error procedure to a real system.

In SM, the system can be programmed and simulated on a computer because the schedules are realistic and computer run time is short. SM uses a schedule to assign work to each workstation. Hence there is no need for more work in process other than that work being done. The exception is for inventory specifically placed in front of

bottleneck to ensure continual work or at specific point down stream from a bottleneck to ensure flow of product.

MRP schedules [back ward scheduling] production through a bill of materials explosion in a back ward manner - working backward in time from the desired completion date. As a secondary procedure, MRP through its capacity resource-planning module, develops capacity utilization profiles of work centers- when work centers are over loaded, either the master production schedules must be adjusted or enough slack capacity must be left unscheduled in the system so that work can be smoothed at the local level, this is accomplished by work center supervisors or the workers themselves. Trying to smooth capacity using MRP is so difficult and would require so many computer runs to execute capacity analyses. The capacity over loads and under loads decisions at the machine centers are best left to local decisions. An MRP schedule becomes invalid in just one day after it is created due to many practical constraints. Hence analyses with the synchronous index are applicable at this stage. We can have knowledge built up on a day-to-day basis and whenever such an instance of large capacity requirement exists the average synchronous index can be used to take up a managerial decision. If there is variance of synchronous index we can take appropriate action to see production happens in time and there by reducing the risk of not meeting production targets. However these concepts will not consider practical problems such as non-availability of raw materials and other production resources. Under ideal circumstances the results are suggested to be phenomenal. In the long run there can be confidence built using the synchronous index that the desired production target can be achieved or not before the actual launch of production.

The SM approach uses forward scheduling because it focuses on the critical resources. Therefore scheduled forward in time, ensuring that loads placed on them are within capacity. The non-critical resources are then scheduled to support the critical resources. This procedure ensures a feasible schedule. To help reduce lead-time and working process, SM varies a process batch size and transfer batch size – a procedure that MRP is not able to do. Now some companies are supplementing these MRP systems with SM, to manage their resources better. Both MRP and JIT practitioners believe that ideal plant is a balanced plant, that is one in which every resource has the same out put capability relative to the plants need. But SM approach does not accept this idea by identifying the existence of unbalanced plant that is one in which some resource has less relative out put capability than the others. The systems of SM also work well with other functional


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areas like accounting and marketing to achieve the best operating system.

The Indian small & medium industries concentrate on thumb rule with very less planning and scheduling. This scenario depicts large lead times, poor harmonisation, most of the times poor productivity, leading to very very poor customer service. These types of industries spend too much time in expediting jobs at a relatively less pace. There are instances reported of frequent priority changes. Also myriad large inventories with no planning on inventory parameters. This leads to the execution of re-requirement analyses of production plans and order schedule data from the customers.

Drawbacks in current scenario. The current scenario has not been

explored to develop a very effective strategy for productivity gains.

Modeling and simulation analyses with appropriate ERP and Simulation softwares is essential.

The engineering analyses with respect to manufacturing is too timid. Analyses with respect to cycle time and its optimization are required. There is a lack of handling priority issues in manufacturing.

Modeling a MRP Scenario

The MRP run at completion forms the basis for decision loops of production or purchase of the items based on delivery dates and master production files. A shop order is generated if the need is to produce items with sufficient time at hand, or a sub contracting purchase is raised for the items if time on hand is sparse. This is explained as in Fig.1. MRP process triggers a purchase request for vendor items and a shop order for in house manufactured items. However net change configuration also helps to automatically/manually generate purchase process for required raw materials if the decision of production is initiated.


The process of measuring synchronousity under a MRP process is discussed as under. The various processes under the MRP environment are as shown in the figure No 1 of Appendix. The various activities like inventory interface, bom interface and the planning loop forms various processes under the MRP run. Let us consider ‘n’ activities in a process under MRP run. ‘O t ‘ represents the Operation time of each activity.


‘r t ’ represents the route identification number, which consists of operations on different machines and resources. It is important to integrate the times of operations on this route and ‘O t ’ represents the operation time of activities 1 to n in a specific route. The resources (men) time ‘M t ‘ represents the Labor time or machining time of activities 1 to n of a specific route. ‘Pr’ represents the process time for all the operation in a specific route. The total time i.e. start time and end time is important and is applicable to specific route id only, as indicated in equations 4 and 5.


O t







processes defined under the MRP model.


O kt = O 11 + O 22 +……….O nn



M kt = M 12 + M 22 +……….M nn

k, t=1



Pr =(Start time – End time) of all processes

SI = ΣO kt / ΣPr O kt , Pr r t

SI = ΣM kt / ΣPr M kt , Pr r t

SI = {

<1 Not Synchronized

=1 Synchronized

>1 Not Synchronized

Analyses with respect to operations

SI = {

<1 Not Synchronized

=1 Synchronized

>1 Not Synchronised









Analyses with respect to resources

The MRP in an industry is a vital process and is highly suceptable for slippages. Hence manufacturing operations of companies should be active in enabling synchronous activities to be more stringent on slippages. We have

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considered some of the medium scale manufacturing setups in Bangalore for our study. The resources involved in the activity are highly critical for establishing the time estimates and should be highly motivated and committed to reach targets. Identifying how critical are these resources for various operations and assigning them optimally is one of the challenges posed to an Industrial Engineer. Analyses of various time estimates and their performances in the past will also be important to the study. Hence the time estimated either calculated or estimated from different forecasting models is advisable to use the suggested model. Tracking delays at predetermined points will be a part of analyses under this study. Analyses of delays in MRP cycle process will lead to finding the process whether synchronized or not. Analyses on how synchronicity is important to accomplish missions leading to the overall objective of the company are an Industrial engineers prerogative. Let K be the number of products that is requested by the MRP process. The planned order releases will indicate the k components requirements. The next process determines the components to be either produced or procured. This results appropriate action at the work order to production or the purchase order to vendor to be released. Ideally all these processes are to be synchronized. We will consider the manufacturing process in this study. The total operation time and the process time can be calculated using the equations 1 to 3 and the synchronousity index (SI) can be computed using the equation 4 and 5. Here the process time is calculated by considering the start and the end times of the MRP activity. The deviation from the actual time to the ideal time is a measure of deviation leading to unsynchronousity. The total process time can also be taken from the past history for the same operation or even a forecasting model can be utilized to estimate the process time. The Synchronous Index is the ratio of sum of Operation time to the sum of the process time. This is indicated in equation no 4.The SI can also be calculated with respect to labor time on the same grounds. This is indicated in equation no 5.If the SI is not equal to 1 then the process is said to be unsynchronous otherwise the process is said to be synchronized. This is indicated in equation no 6 and 7. Here an attempt is made to measure the efficiency and to use the same for benefits. The derived index proves to be a measure of the relative delay amongst the processes. The Industrial Engineer can adopt and practice this simple process to measure synchronousity and can reap the benefit of reaching production on time and targets.



From the above analyses a mathematical model for measuring and analyzing synchronousity is established.


This will be a vital tool for an Industrial engineer who can carry out his routine work of analyzing the synchronous index on a day to day basis effectively. It is also established that a MRP process can contribute a lot for delays and are resource dependent. Hence analyses with respect to synchronousity are vital. An Industrial Engineer

is the best possible resource to handle this issue.


Alexis Leon (2003) Enterprise Resource Planning,

Tata McGraw-Hill Publication Company Limited, New


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North River Press, 1997. Goldratt, E. The Haystack Syndrome: Sifting Information Out of the Data Ocean. , Croton-on-Hudson, NY: North River Press, 1990 Goldratt, E. Necessary but Not Sufficient. Croton- on-Hudson, NY: North River Press, 2000


Hudson, NY: North River Press, 2000 Harold Koontz Cyril O’Donnell. and Heinz Weihrich (1981) Management, McGraw-Hill International Book Company, Auckland Bogota Guatemala Hamburg Johannesburg Lisbon. Maynard’s (2001) Industrial Engineering Handbook, Mc Graw-Hill, New York. Richard B. Chase, F.Robert Jacobs and Nicholas J. Aquiline (2003) Operations Management For Competitive Advantage. Tata McGraw-Hill Publication Company Limited, New Delhi. Srikanth.M., and M. Umble. Synchronous Management: Profit Based Manufacturing for the 21 st Century. Guilford, CT: Spectrum Publishing, 1997.

Goldratt, E. Theory of







M kt

O kt

R t

Material Requirement Planning Bill of Materials Synchronous Manufacturing Just in Time Synchronous Index

Labor Time

Operation Time Route Identity Number

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Dr B Ravishankar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering BMS College of Engg Bangalore India. He has done his Masters in Maintenance Engg at the University of Mysore and has acquired His Doctorate in Human Factors Engg from the Bangalore University. Ravishankar is active in the areas of ERP, Software development and Implementation. He has developed key solutions to many companies. Currently he is guiding few researchers in the field of Synchronous

manufacturing, Capacity Planning and Supply Chain Areas.

Ashok Mehatha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering Sri Siddartha Institute of Technology Tumkur India. He has done his Masters in Maintenance Engg at the University of Mysore. He is currently pursuing his research leading to Ph.D, in the synchronous manufacturing areas. Ashok is also involved in TEQIP an initiative of the World Bank for the benefit of engineering colleges in India.


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Modeling a MRP Scenario.

Master Production Schedule

Material Requirements


Product Structure


Material Requirements Plannin g Product Structure File Inventory Master File   Planned Order Releases

Inventory Master File

Plannin g Product Structure File Inventory Master File   Planned Order Releases Work Purchase

Planned Order


  Planned Order Releases Work Purchase Rescheduling Orders Orders Notices
  Planned Order Releases Work Purchase Rescheduling Orders Orders Notices







FIG.1. Typical MRP Process.