Production Planning

What is Production Planning in Manufacturing?

In manufacturing, production planning is a process that outlines exactly how a company’s products are manufactured. Your production plan outlines production targets, all required resources for hitting those targets, and the schedule. When pieced together, your production plan outlines all steps and procedures to reaching the final product. 

Production planning is a critical component of successful manufacturing. Designed well, it ensures companies deliver products on time and run well, and it helps organisations reduce costs while utilising resources in an efficient manner. 

Even if there is a disruption to a workflow, such as a bottleneck in the production line caused by the stock out on a vital component or the breakdown of an essential piece of equipment, the production planning process provides strategies that allow companies to respond to these challenges quickly and effectively.

Production planning today is far more elaborate and effective than ever before, thanks in part to improved technology. Production planning has become so valuable in optimising product production that it allows small- and medium-sized companies to compete on a much larger scale.

The Importance of a Plan

Production planning in manufacturing is essential for producing products in an efficient manner and this is especially so in small and growing manufacturers where stock levels are kept tighter, storage space is at a premium and cash flow is vitally important. 

Both production scheduling and production routing are functions that allow companies to predict the material and human resources needed for their upcoming demand. Because of this type of advanced planning process, production runs more efficiently. 

It’s easy enough to see the value when everything runs well – the entire process moves smoothly. Consider an example of how production scheduling software like this can enhance operations when things do not go well.

A production company is close to running out of stock of an essential item for Product A. However, they have already planned their staff allocation for this production job. In this situation, a good MRP system with production routing functionality can help determine what steps may be beneficial to take, such as switching the staff to working on a commonly used sub-assembly that does not require the out-of-stock part or highlighting a supplier who can re-stock the vital component before its needed for the production run. 

In this situation, the technology helps to “find” that opportunity. The result is it minimises staff or machinery downtime, improving the efficiency of the operation.

The Role of Job Cards

Another component of successful production planning is the use of job cards. Job cards can contain rich data, including CAD drawings, images, and detailed production steps for any product within your organisation, and enable digital work instructions to be positioned right on the shopfloor where the action happens. As a result, they create a plan for improving production efficiency and a means of tracking progress and problems. This leads to multi-skilling and the reduction of production errors.

Good job card software also contains time-tracking functionality. This enables you to better understand the reality of your production schedule as you can gain insights from how long production tasks actually take or spot differences in common tasks to highlight training needs in your team. With more information and powerful insights like this, it is possible to avoid some of the most costly bottlenecks in your workflow that cost you time, customer retention, and profitability.

Dependency graphs are also a valuable component of job cards as they create a visual representation of the resources needed, particular components and sub-assemblies which is critical for SME manufacturers in the high-tech device space creating the component parts themselves.

Consider the visual value here: if a company is creating a heat sensor, a motherboard with particular properties and combining them together into a final product, both products must be in stock and ready for assembly. That way, when an order arrives for machine 1, the system will know it needs sensor array A, motherboard B, as well as XYZ casing to complete the project. The dependency graph takes that data and creates a visual graph like a flowchart so production managers see exactly what sub-assemblies must be completed.

The Best Technology Goes Further

Production planning in manufacturing is such an essential process to get right that it’s critical to consider investing in technology to support it. That’s why the new generation of Flowlens has been designed to go even further, providing a full suite of tools to provide not just the above features but also better overall analysis.

For example, it can help you analyse and predict your stock more effectively. It incorporates an easy-to-use traffic light system that is easy to understand and integrates with RFQ technology to make your procurement processes faster and easier. This integrates lead times from all of your suppliers. As a result, it helps with material procurement – when your procurement managers notice a change, they can make fast, accurate decisions on purchasing priorities. This enables your team to continue to work productively. 

Production Planning Is a Core Component of Successful Manufacturing Today

Production planning provides your production management team with the knowledge to ensure that the product is created on time and meets customer needs. It reduces costs by freeing up lost time and resources from inefficiencies throughout the production planning process. 

Done well, production planning alleviates company-wide stresses, saves your organisation money, and protects profit margins at a much higher rate.

Flowlens is an easy-to-use tool that easily enhances the way companies operate today. Learn more about how Flowlens works, as well as how it easily it integrates your entire business from sales to invoicing. 

Set up a free, 14-day trial now to learn how it can change your business’s bottom line.

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