DAY 1: New MRP System Training

Author: Jon Wilson

OK here I am again for the Odoo open days and training and it's good to renew friendships with the some Odoo guys. I spoke with Quentin who is in charge of the financials and asked him what has been happening for V10 - and the good news is "Not much, mostly bug fixes and small improvements". It's nice to see that this part of Odoo has finally settled down although I cannot understand why they have not introduced account budgeting (rather than analytical account budgeting). Never mind as Richard in our office has done a good job on that feature.

Also speaking to Pascal Bouton I found out they are developing training material inside Odoo which may be divided into basic and advanced with exams. This is something they tried to introduce a few years ago but it never really got implemented for various reasons. Last time it was going to be a requirement to have passed the exam to be a partner with silver and gold partners having multiple employees qualified. I think they will introduce that also in the future.

As an aside - there are some serious looking army guys at the main train stations with machine guns at the ready after the terrorist attacks in Brussels - I'm not sure if it makes me feel safer though.

Anyway the first two days I am attending MRP training. The MRP module has been completely rewritten for Odoo V10. My first impression is they have done a very good job of integrating many aspects of the manufacturing process including enhanced routing with component consumption, quality control and alerts, product life cycle maintenance (PLM) and machine maintenance. The level of integration is truly impressive and could potentially replace several vertical market products. An Odoo design philosophy is to keep the models relatively simple and leave any specific vertical features up to the partners and they have certainly adhered to this principle. It is then possible for the Odoo partners to build a very lean vertical solution to a particular requirement or industry but still retain the great benefits of an integrated solution covering all areas of the enterprise. What looks really good, but I'm not sure of its functionality, is the materials planning feature MRP I (more later). 

The MRP system can be run pretty much the same as in V9 if required, however the manufacturing order (MO) planning has been improved. Once routing is turned on then a whole new set of features appear including the ability to define at which work centre (WC) on the BoM components can be consumed, and a dashboard with cards representing each work centre indicating how many jobs are waiting and status indicators showing which WC's have problems.

MO's now no longer have a "new" stage, and upon saving the components are exploded. Component reservation is done via a "check availability" button. Exactly how many components are consumed can be edited, but components cannot be added or edited - I think this is a limitation for short-run custom manufacturing orders that are so prevalent in the Australian manufacturing environment.

Planning can be done at the manufacturing order level or more powerfully at the work center level. There is a new status on a manufacturing order called "planned". MO's can be planned in bulk by selecting multiple MO's and the the "Plan" action. The auto-planning algorithm is fairly simple based on a first-in basis. However, manual alterations can be made and then the orders can be "un-planned" and then planned again.

WC duration times can be automatically averaged and kept by the system, or standard times can be manually entered. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) at each WC is calculated via recorded parameters such as Availability loss (unplanned stops, planned stops), Performance loss (small stops, slow cycles), and Quality loss (production rejects). Measuring all these parameters is only possible due to the level of integration of these features.

WC's can also have associated instructions as PDF documents which are displayed to the user. Additionally, WC access has a special interface for tablets. If you wish to fully capture each user at each WC then individual user licences must be purchased which could possibly be quite expensive.

Quality control features are turned on in the configuration and allow the definition of 3 main objects:

- points: create quality checks on the defined operation (picking, mo, wo). Quality points can be applied to the various picking types also and so can be used when goods are being received or sent etc.

- checks: create quality alerts, (alerts can be created manually at WC's also). Operations can have multiple checks associated with them and cannot be "done" until these checks are completed.

- alerts: Can trigger warning messages to the user, eg an alert can display at the WC warning the user to take care when doing a particular operation. Alerts also have a use-by date so users will not start ignoring them.

There are some very useful quality reporting tools and the ability to take remedial action based on the quality items reported.

The PLM module allows the maintenance and versioning of BoM's and associated routes and the ability to view what has altered between different versions. Associated BoM drawings can be attached to the BoM. Kanban views present a good interface as the product goes through the different stages of versioning and final approval. Once approved, the final BoM and/or route become the active versions.

Materials planning schedule (MPS) should be considered as an almost stand-alone tool. It is a powerful interactive planning tool allowing PO's and MO's to be created dynamically. The interface is truly beautiful and obviously a lot of care and design thought has gone into it. Projected quantities can be entered which for components is independent of the "In-direct demand" which comes from products with associated BoM's.

Stock items are entered manually and can be removed (un-intuitively) manually also. There is no facility to enter a finished item and the system to automatically bring in all the associated componentry. Nor is there a facility to import budgeted/projected figures, although this could be fairly easily added.


So, the way I see it is that you design the schedule, then possibly revisit it weekly or monthly (the period is selectable). All the system will change from period to period is the stock opening balance which has the potential to affect the previous predicted quantities (so in this sense it is dynamic). Any changes to budgeted quantities must be manually entered and there is no indication of the current actual inputs or outputs as it is assumed (I'm guessing here) that any deviation from the planned figures will be represented in the stock opening balances.

It took me quite awhile to get my head around this as I was expecting a truly dynamic projection based on the current status of the system and an entered budgeted quantity. 

A good analogy is to a financial budget as the MRS represents the master plan and its only real interface to the current state of the system is the opening stock on hand value. However, a budget usually has comparisons to the current state of the system e.g. how many MO's are currently in the system or how many items are currently being purchased as opposed to how many were planned. But this is not the case - it is simply a planning tool. Even existing stock min/max figures are not automatically included but must be reentered in the MPS.

It is sometimes difficult in Odoo to understand exactly the use-case the designers are addressing or the context in which a particular feature has been implemented, and even being able to understand the underlying code does not help sometimes. So I may be misunderstanding exactly how this tool is to be used. It may become clearer tomorrow and my thoughts may change? 

I believe end-users will require at least 1/2 day of training and hands-on experience to begin to understand the Odoo MPS. Having said that, and having designed our own MPS in times-past, I realise this was never going to be for the fainthearted!

I had a really interesting discussion with one of the main developers (forgotten his name sorry) who was talking about the new design studio which will allow users to visually add data fields and design/alter associated views. This made me shiver a little as I wondered what damage could be done to a view that has already been extensively modified by an existing custom module. However, I was assured that all this had been taken into account with view inheritances etc. Where I think it will come in REALLY handy is for consultants (like me) to design prototype systems during the analysis phase of small-medium projects. I look forward to learning more on day 3.

So day one of the training comes to a close. More tomorrow.....

--Jon Wilson 2016.10.04