Huge increase in product variety

There is another argument that has become of crucial importance for material planners and buyers in modern production environments. Due to the increase in the variety of products, materials, components and raw materials, the number of items numbers in the ERP database, which MRP uses to perform its analysis and create Planned orders, has increased significantly. Whereas in the seventies a few dozen to a few hundred article numbers had to be managed, nowadays it is easily a few thousand to tens of thousands of production article numbers, components, materials and raw material numbers.

As a material planner or buyer sitting behind a Material Planning Window to do your work, while the set of Planned orders generated by the system can change daily, it is hopeless (and thankless) to work through thousands of item numbers, screen by screen, to try to understand the consequences of the MRP results for the production and ultimately the Customer Orders and consequently the customers. In the many years that I have spent as an ERP consultant, at many companies, I have never encountered a material planner or buyer who was able to do that.

There is a standard function in MRP that allows for the creation of exception reports, article number by article number, that indicate, for instance, that certain Purchase Orders must be postponed in time, or that certain required stock has too much or too little available. But if you have to work with thousands of item numbers, the number of exception reports is almost unmanageable and provides more confusion than useful information to the people who have to work with it every day.

And that, too, is a complaint I heard from material planners and buyers at many of those companies: MRP provides more questions than answers in the execution of the material control and planning work, and; the lack of clarity due to the enormous number of exception reports.