An Application of Master Schedule Smoothing and Planned Lead Time Control



Make-to-order (MTO) manufacturers must ensure concurrent availability of all parts required for production, as any unavailability may cause a delay in completion time. A major challenge for MTO manufacturers operating under high demand variability is to produce customized parts in time to meet internal production schedules. We present a case study of a producer of MTO offshore oil rigs that highlights the key aspects of the problem. The producer was faced with an increase in both demand and demand variability. Consequently, it had to rely heavily on subcontracting to handle production requirements that were in excess of its capacity. We focused on the manufacture of customized steel panels, which represent the main sub-assemblies for building an oil rig. We considered two key tactical parameters: the planning window of the master production schedule and the planned lead time of each workstation. Under the constraint of a fixed internal delivery lead time, we determined the optimal planning parameters. This improvement effort reduced the subcontracting cost by implementing several actions: the creation of a master schedule for each sub-assembly family of the steel panels, the smoothing of the master schedule over its planning window, and the controlling of production at each workstation by its planned lead time. We report our experience in applying the analytical model, the managerial insights gained, and how the application benefits the oil-rig producer.