Tips for Choosing MRP Systems

Driving the production floor without material requirements planning (MRP) systems in place is putting your business at risk for human error, slow production time and excessive spend in manual labor to produce the same results. MRP systems provide the computer-based inventory management you need to schedule and place orders for production items dependent upon raw materials.

To provide you with the ultimate value for your investment, MRP systems break down the requirements of your inventory into planning periods to ensure production can be completed in a timely manner. At the same time, all inventory levels are kept at a comfortable minimum so as to keep your cash flow healthy. And, as much value as the MRP system will provide to your production flow, it can still be costly and time consuming to implement.

While there are a number of different providers on the market who will offer what they consider to be the “best MRP systems available”, it is up to you to carefully examine available MRP systems before making a purchasing decision. The MRP system that works efficiently in your colleague’s environment may not automatically be the best for yours. It is still important to ask within your network to get an idea of the most often selected MRP system, but also ask about forecasting, support, and integration into multiple environments.

Forecasting is an important step for MRP systems as without accurate forecasts, you cannot accurately plan your materials according to demand. The MRP system will rely on information from your bill of materials, an inventory records file and a master schedule. The bill of materials provides the raw materials list, components parts, subassemblies, and the remaining assemblies needed to produce one completed product.

That information is used within the MRP system to determine the quantity of each component needed to produce a finished product. When your forecast demands 1,000 finished products per day, the MRP system must take that forecast into account to be sure you have the necessary materials on hand to reach that goal. If the MRP system is not integrated into your forecasting tool, you won’t be able to effectively manage your production floor.

Support is essential in any system integration as the flow of your production floor will depend on the performance of your MRP system. Demand that your solution provides at least a 99 percent uptime guarantee and that technical support is available 24×7. When evaluating this aspect from a vendor, get references and ask pointed questions about support to be sure you can count on the provider to deliver as promised.

Do you run multiple production floors or multiple shifts that produce different products? Be sure to take this into account when examining potential MRP systems. You don’t want an entry-level MRP system for a more complex production schedule. And, if you plan to add additional products or shifts over time, be sure the MRP system you implement is scalable and will grow with you. Otherwise, you will find the original investment will not produce the necessary ROI and you will be making another large purchase.

The benefits to a robust MRP system are significant, including the ability to minimize inventory levels and associated costs, tracking the requirements of materials, allocating production time and planning for future capacity needs. Just be sure you practice due diligence before selecting your MRP system so you can maximize your investment for a strong ROI.