Material Requirements Planning

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Material requirements planning (MRP) is a production planning and inventory control system used to manage manufacturing processes. Most MRP systems are software-based, while it is possible to conduct MRP by hand as well.

An MRP system is intended to simultaneously meet three objectives:

  • Ensure materials are available for production and products are available for delivery to customers.
  • Maintain the lowest possible level of inventory.
  • Plan manufacturing activities, delivery schedules and purchasing activities.



Prior to MRP and before computers dominated the industry, reorder-point/reorder-quantity (ROP/ROQ) type methods like EOQ had been used in manufacturing and inventory management. In the 1960s, Joseph Orlicky studied the TOYOTA Manufacturing Program and developed Material Requirements Planning (MRP), and Oliver Wight and George Plossl then developed MRP into manufacturing resource planning (MRP II).[1]. Orlicky's book is entitled The New Way of Life in Production and Inventory Management (1975). By 1975, MRP was implemented in 150 companies. This number had grown to about 8,000 by 1981. In the 1980s, Joe Orlicky's MRP evolved into Oliver Wight's manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) which brings master scheduling, rough-cut capacity planning, capacity requirements planning and other concepts to classical MRP. By 1989, about one third of the software industry was MRP II software sold to American industry ($1.2 billion worth of software).[2]

The scope of MRP in manufacturing

The basic function of MRP system includes inventory control, bill of material processing and elementary scheduling. MRP helps organizations to maintain low inventory levels. It is used to plan manufacturing, purchasing and delivering activities.

"Manufacturing organizations, whatever their products, face the same daily practical problem - that customers want products to be available in a shorter time than it takes to make them. This means that some level of planning is required."

Companies need to control the types and quantities of materials they purchase, plan which products are to be produced and in what quantities and ensure that they are able to meet current and future customer demand, all at the lowest possible cost. Making a bad decision in any of these areas will make the company lose money. A few examples are given below:

  • If a company purchases insufficient quantities of an item used in manufacturing (or the wrong item) it may be unable to meet contract obligations to supply products on time.

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