What is a master production schedule? The complete guide

A master production schedule is the backbone of every productive manufacturing business. With this article, you can learn all about what is a master production schedule and how to implement it into your processes.

Manager wearing a hardhat in a sterile factory checking their master production schedule on a laptop.
Last updated: 05.12.2022

master production schedule (MPS) is the overall plan to assess the production of your finished goods.

Your master schedule details how much needs to be produced within a certain period. Essentially, if your master production scheduling is done properly, it will be the backbone to a manufacturing business that will help you:

  • Make adjustments to fluctuation in demand
  • Prevent stockouts
  • Improve your efficiency
  • Perform effective cost control

Automate your master production schedule

Katana is the ultimate master production schedule that automates your operations and allocates material automatically to jobs, so you can focus on growing your business. See Katana in action for free.
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That’s why, in this article, we’re going to look into the master production schedule, its benefits, and the tools you can use to piece your master schedule together.

What is master production schedule?

Master production schedule (MPS) is a term used to describe a centralized document telling you what you need to produce, how much you need to produce, and when you need to produce it.

In short, everything related to production in your business, including time frames, such as your manufacturing lead time. Here is a quick overview of the master production schedule process steps you’ll need to follow when putting this together:

  1. Map your demand and make a Demand Plan
  2. Work out the raw materials you need and get your supply chain up and running with production planning processes
  3. Now you’re ready to develop a master production schedule proposal. This is like a rough draft to see if your production schedule is workable
  4. Use a rough-cut capacity planning technique to calculate if you can meet your proposed MPS manufacturing. Continue using this technique to continuously assess if your capacity can meet demand when your master production schedule is in action
  5. If your master production schedule proposal is workable, you then evaluate it with regards to customer service, effective use of resources, and inventory investment

Once your master schedule is implemented, every employee on your shop floor is clear about what needs to be produced each week.

Your master production schedule makes sure everyone in your business is working towards the same goal. The master scheduler — the MPS architect — can then forecast relationships between demand and your supply, so you know when you need to increase or decrease production. The master production schedule is a crucial input into the aggregate operations plan, giving an overview of everything your business needs to do for 100% order fulfillment.

This is producing sales orders and having them delivered on time, without any problems or defects. This is known as a perfect order — and it’s what every business should strive for on all their sales channels.

The main functions of a master production  schedule

The purpose of a master production schedule is to save you time by making the hours you spend managing your production flow much more efficiently, giving you more space to scale your manufacturing business.

Once you understand the ultimate goal of the master schedule, you can realize that the other master production schedule objectives are all aligned towards achieving this goal. The other functions of a master production schedule are:

Translating Production Plans

How will you manage operations to strike a balance between demand, labor requirements, and equipment capability? The master production schedule will help you determine how many items you need to produce within a specific period.

Evaluating Alternative Schedules

A master production schedule should consider multiple manufacturing routes, to see which is the most efficient and take into account any problems which might occur along a production line.

Produce Capacity Requirements

Rough cut capacity planning with your master production schedule helps you figure out the realistic capacity you need to meet demand, increase profits, and minimize your costs.

Facilitating Information Processing

The master schedule helps you set your reorder points to make deliveries that need to be placed. You can do this by coordinating different management information systems such as marketing, finance, etc.

Utilization of Capacity

Finally, a master production schedule will help you establish the loads and utilization requirements for machines and equipment.

The other master production schedule objectives are:

  1. Makes your demand flow smoother
  2. Keeps your lead-time low
  3. Standardizes communication across your business
  4. Helps you to prioritize requirements
  5. Help keep production stable
  6. Generates workable plans for your manufacturing orders
  7. Assists in making accurate purchases and transfer orders

Those are the desired outcomes of your master schedule. Now let’s look at the ingredients of the ideal master production schedule.

Parts of a master production schedule

When you put together your production calendar, you’ll need a demand plan.

To generate a demand plan, you need up-to-date and accurate historical sales data. You can use this to work out your projected demand for the upcoming weeks. Just make sure that you adjust this on a week-to-week basis.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to keep some safety stock around in case you receive an unusually large or uncommon order.

If your demand grows, you need to increase your order policy, so it does not frequently eat into your safety stock.

So as each week passes, you update your demand plan to create a more accurate production calendar. This feeds into your master production schedule. Your MPS manufacturing may be a work-in-progress for a while, but you will fine-tune it, making it a valuable tool for your business’ order fulfillment.

The correct procedure for developing a master production schedule is to include the following elements:

  • Product List — All product models you produce. After you have completed your ABC analysis, you can order them by popularity, so the items you produce the most are at the top of the list
  • Variation Sub-Lists for Each Product — Have a field for each product variation. One for each SKU. For example, you can split backpacks into S, M, and L for size. You can further split these into other variations like color
  • Year, month, and week — This is useful for planning and keeping records, which is necessary for accurate demand forecasting. Split up your schedule into months and weeks. The aim is to have a solid plan of what you will produce for the next few months. You can reassess your projected demand every few months. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments sooner if the demand calls for it
  • Production quantities — This is the number of units you decide to manufacture each week. Say, after analyzing your demand plan, you decide to manufacture 200 units of product in a week. You then add the number 200 to the bottom of each weekly column. But don’t stop there, as you now need to allocate how many of each product variation will make up the 200 total. This depends on what you already have in stock and what the projected demand is. For example, one week, all 200 units could be of one SKU, whereas the following production could be evenly distributed across product models.

How do manufacturers use a master production schedule

So, what kind of manufacturers can use a master production schedule?

Well, no matter the size of your manufacturing business, the sooner you start, the better. This is because it fosters good business habits, so things like master schedule become second nature when you do scale up. Your business habits are a key predictor of long-term success.

The master production schedule is compatible with different production workflows:

Master production scheduling focuses on the production of finished goods or components (if you have an ATO workflow).

The goods that are the most profitable for your business are likely to make up most of the resources needed for production. Ultimately, manufacturers use their master production schedule to help them:

  • Understand what needs to be produced
  • How big should a batch be
  • When should they be scheduled
  • The manufacturing route should their products follow

So, when you’re putting together your master production schedule, you also need to consider these other important variants when utilizing your MPS:

  • What are your batch criteria?
  • What are your sequence constraints?
  • What are your set-up times?
  • What’s the capacity over-saturation?

The benefits of getting set up with a master production schedule

What are the benefits you can expect to reap once you implement a master production schedule into your business planning?

  1. You can build, optimize, and track your demand planning more efficiently since you’ll have a better understanding of your production runs
  2. You can determine what your ideal inventory level is with an overview of the production requirements
  3. Your HR department can see in advance what are the requirements ahead of production
  4. You can optimize your capacity of materials and be sure to avoid stockouts
  5. You can estimate the total amount of necessary labor for upcoming production runs
  6. Knowing ahead of time how much production that’ll be taking place allows you to perform predictive maintenance along your manufacturing lines
  7. Your master production schedule helps you calculate how much inventory you’ll need in the future, improving your procurement process
  8. Your finance department can also benefit from a master production schedule, by using this document to create a cash flow forecast for the company

A master production schedule example

Let’s go through a master production example for a leather manufacturer selling bags.

To keep this production schedule example simple, we will look at just two products, with two variations each, making four SKUs in total.

  • Their on-hand inventory is displayed at the top
  • The projected demand is added below
  • The production quantity is then calculated based on current inventory, demand, and capacity

First, let’s see how this looks in a run-of-the-mill master production schedule that thousands of businesses currently use.

Hard on the eyes, right? One downside to this approach, apart from it being hard on the eyes, is that the master production schedule is not dynamic.

It doesn’t change based on actual orders and capacity. You have to update it yourself as it is based on a spreadsheet program. Excel is inefficient and vulnerable to business-harming errors.

That’s why manufacturers, especially scaling ones, turn to MES software to help them put together a more visually appealing and dynamic master production schedule.

But before we look into a master production schedule being used within an ERP system, let’s quickly look into the difference between master production schedule and production scheduling, both very important steps in manufacturing.

Difference between the master production schedule and production scheduling

There can be confusion between a master production schedule and a production schedule since the processes to develop the two can be similar.

So, to tell them apart here is the difference between an MPS and a production schedule:

Master production schedule

The continuous optimization process that businesses need to carry out, determining the number of finished goods they need to produce based upon the inputs and constraints of their production.

Production planning  

Production planning, on the other hand, is the early stages of your manufacturing process where you’ll define the production levels, with limited and fewer details. The purpose of production planning is to determine the production of items, in terms of families or groups.

Now you’re updated on what is a master production schedule, and the difference between production planning, you might be realizing that to put together an MPS is a lot of work.

Fortunately, there is software on the market that can automate this process for you, so you can put together your master production schedule in no time, and get right back to growing your business.

Production scheduling software

Katana gives you the tools to not only design and implement a master production schedule by streamlining your entire manufacturing process to one platform by connecting your inventory, purchasing, and production.
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Manufacturing ERP software for your master production schedule

Katana Manufacturing ERP Software is a tool for manufacturers looking to centralize their entire business, from production planning to manufacturing, and even sales.

However, Katana has been built with a master production schedule, which automates the tasks associated with your master schedule and streamlines the entire process. Katana’s MPS system is a steady flow, not a fire hydrant of data. It prioritizes your schedule, so you see what’s important, and of course, you can see everything at once too.

So, using the earlier example, let’s take another look at a master production schedule in Katana.

This is the “Make” screen in Katana.

All the information you require from a master production schedule is here – amounts, production time, deadlines. You can access the bill of materials for any manufacturing order by clicking on the row you want to access. Every staff member also has their own personalized schedule.

EXTRA TIP: Click on “All Dates” below the “Production Deadline” (3rd column from the right) to change the date range. You can review your schedule for the current day and the next seven days. In fact, you can set “Custom Dates” to customize your master production schedule as much as you need.

See how subtle changes can make all the difference?

But what about your raw materials planning? Easy. Click on an MO (that’s manufacturing order) field to open up a detailed breakdown of its production schedule.

This is the manufacturing order (MO) card in Katana. It is the part of the master production schedule that contains the bill of materials (BOM) and product recipe. It is very useful as it contains all your quantities and process, so you or your staff are never lost for how to produce something. It’s all clearly laid out here.

The product is split up into every part and component, which is given its own deadline for completion.

This is an advanced tool that makes sure you never slip up on the details, keeping you on schedule. Finally, you can review your staff members’ schedules. Do this by clicking on “Tasks” in the “Make” screen (the make screen is the central hub for your master production schedule).

The production schedule for each person in your team is laid out clearly.

Everyone has a job to do every minute of every day. You just need to decide when to break for lunch. When no time is wasted or lost, you’ll find you get your orders done much quicker.

This is the “Tasks” screen in Katana which shows you all necessary operations for open MOs. You can assign and reassign tasks in a matter of seconds using a drag-and-drop system. All processes and sub-processes are scheduled so you know how long production will take, and hit your deadlines.

PRO TIP: Katana gives manufacturers access to the Shop Floor Control App, perfect for managers manufacturers who have multiple employees and need a clear communication channel with their shop floor, available on our Advanced plan.


The trick is to find master production scheduling software that doesn’t make you shudder with dread when you open it. Seriously — the better you feel about your software, the more motivated you will feel to learn it thoroughly, and the more likely you are to use it effectively.

Now it’s time to implement your master production schedule

And there you have it, everything you need to know about the master production schedule and how you can put yours together.

However, it’s one thing to know, but without using cloud manufacturing software to manage your master production schedule, you’re going to be stuck with a system like using inefficient Excel spreadsheets. This is why manufacturers turn to online ERP software to help them automate the process of making their master production schedule automated and easy to understand. Why not try out an automated master production schedule within your business with a 14-day free trial to see how much it can improve your production lines efficiency.

We hope you found this article useful, and if you have any questions, feel free to send us a message here or over at social media channels, and until next time, happy manufacturing.

Katana ERP

Katana Team

Katana gives thousands of manufacturers a live look at their business. Manage all the moving parts of your business and unite the apps and services you use in one visual platform.

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