material requirements planning (MRP)

Material requirements planning (MRP) refers to production planning and inventory control software systems that are used to manage the manufacturing process.

Material requirements planning (MRP) is a production planning and inventory control system. An MRP integrates data from production schedules with that from inventory and the bill of materials (BOM) to calculate purchasing and shipping schedules for the parts or components required to build a product. 

There are three primary functions of an MRP system. First, the system helps ensure that the appropriate materials are available for production and the necessary products are available for customers to avoid shortages. Second, MRP reduces waste by maintaining only the lowest possible materials and product levels in stock. Lastly, an MRP system helps plan manufacturing functions, delivery schedules and purchasing. When an MRP system is doing its job, it reduces material waste while also avoiding product shortages. Data integrity, however, is a major issue for successful material requirements planning. The data fed into the system must be accurate; otherwise, serious production and stock errors may occur.

MRP was developed by engineer Joseph Orlicky as a response to the Toyota Production System, the famous model for lean production. The first computerized MRP system was tested successfully by Black & Decker in 1964.

See also: manufacturing resource planning


This was first published in February 2014

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