A hybrid model combining the critical path method (CPM) with material requirements planning (MRP) has been suggested (Aquilano) as a more robust method for scheduling projects and resources. The primary advantage of this technique is that resource acquisition lead times as well as inventory records are integrated into the process of computing the project schedule. This paper presents a set of formal CPM/MRP algorithms that may be used to compute the early and late start schedules as well as the critical sequence. A number of modifications have been incorporated into the CPM/MRP technique to improve the viability of CPM/MRP as a tool for application to actual project scheduling problems. A simple example project is used to demonstrate the CPM/MRP model.
The CPM/MRP technique is designed to overcome a basic shortcoming of previously suggested project scheduling methodologies. CPM was initially designed to schedule projects subject to technological constraints only. Later, additional techniques were introduced to consider constraints upon various aspects of resource availability (Davis). None of the suggested techniques attempted to integrate resource acquisition lead time with the generation of requirements for resources. Obviously such a technique would require the integration of inventory records into the scheduling technique.
The combination of CPM and MRP provides a possible vehicle for overcoming this drawback in CPM. Both CPM and MRP are linear models that generate schedules based upon precedence relationships. An integrated approach is useful since activities could be scheduled subject to information about the inventory position. An activity may be scheduled as soon as all resources are on hand. It is only delayed by those resources which must be acquired and activities which proceed it in the project network.
CPM/MRP also shows promise as an aid to constrained resource scheduling since computations regarding resource availability are an integrated part of the technique. The effect of resource allocation decisions is immediately evident in the MRP-type time phased records.
Results of the tests run on short projects of up to 300 activities and resources have shown that the program does work satisfactorily. Execution time for a 300 item network tested was approximately ten seconds on a CYBER 175.