24 INDUSTRIAL MANAGEMENT & DATA SYSTEMS 92,2
omputerized planning is a must for manu-
facturing if it is to remain competitive in
Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 92 No. 2, 1992, pp. 24-26
© MCB University Press Limited, 0263-5577
"Economize to survive" might be a good motto for
manufacturing and engineering companies in the 1990s.
That does not mean cutting corners. It implies getting
every last penny's worth of productivity
your plant, workforce and management.
At Lucas Management Systems we have identified
manufacturing as one of the areas most likely to benefit
from computerized planning in the 1990s. As part of a
major manufacturing group, and a specialist in project
management, we believe these systems
have a major
impact on manufacturing competitiveness in the coming
In many companies economies in raw materials and
processes, and savings
labour costs through automation,
have already been addressed. Further improvements will
have to come from higher throughput, better resource
utilization, including design and engineering skills, lower
inventories, and shorter lead times.
These factors depend on good planning. Many manu-
facturing businesses are starting to realize some of these
improvements through the application of automated
planning systems, in particular the technique of total,
integrated manufacturing planning.
Computers have been used in engineering for
complexity of modern manufacturing is such that
automation is now widespread, not just in the physical
processes, but in the whole manufacturing cycle.
Computer systems for design (CAD/CAM), manufacturing
resource planning (MRPII) and machine control are well
But these are essentially "shopfloor" systems controlling
There is much less computer usage
at higher management
where the overall strategy
of a manufacturing company is planned and controlled. This
is the area with the biggest potential for improvement.
Integrated manufacturing planning
that is, the use of
computers to plan and control the whole life cycle
a practical, high-level management
bidding, design, tooling, production, QA, delivery
is planned as an integral part of
process. Integrated planning can incorporate existing
computer applications, for example MRPII systems, as
well as covering new areas such as delivery scheduling
and maintenance control.
The purpose of integrated manufacturing planning is to
allow manufacturing companies to maximize their ability
to meet profitably the needs of
have always tried to do
But managers are presented
with so many options that choosing the best path is
difficult. High-level planning systems give the manager the
information overview, and the manipulation capabilities
needed to explore different options, examine results, and
develop the best plan for their business.
Integrated manufacturing planning allows companies to
schedule multiple jobs efficiently in the factory, and
maximize the utilization of
equipment and skills.
Production managers can respond more quickly to
changing requirements, reduce inventories, and shorten
delivery times. It can also help with product planning and
design, tracking products through production, maintenance
schedules, the contract-bidding process, and quality
The key value of this technique is the integration of
planning across many departments and activities. It is
possible for individual departments to be planned and
operating efficiently, but the lack of overall co-ordination
means the company is not so efficient or flexible as it could
A master company plan, where senior managers
oversee and control all parts of the process, allows the
different elements to work together for maximum effect.
Any company activity, not just the actual manufacturing
can be incorporated into the planning system.
The activities of marketing, sales, product planning,
design, QA, and delivery all affect manufacturing
operations, and need to be included in the master plan.