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Production Planning

Production Planning

Production planning is the planning of production and manufacturing modules in a company or industry. It utilizes the resource allocation of activities of employees, materials and production capacity, in order to serve different customers.
Different types of production methods, such as single item manufacturing, batch production, mass production, continuous production etc. have their own type of production planning. Production planning can be combined with production control into production planning and control, or it can be combined with enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Production planning can help in efficient manufacturing or setting up of a production site by facilitating required needs.A production plan is made periodically for a specific time period, called the planning horizon.

In order to develop production plans, the production planner or production planning department needs to work closely together with the marketing department and sales department. They can provide sales forecasts, or a listing of customer orders.

Production scheduling is the process of syncing and planning the steps in the manufacturing process to ensure that production runs smoothly and customers receive what they ordered on schedule.

Areas of production scheduling

  • Procurement: Production can't proceed if you don't have the materials necessary for manufacturing. Procurement scheduling is an art and a science that involves keeping enough on hand without carrying a bloated inventory. You can tighten procurement systems by using digital or manual spreadsheets to track inventory and by developing relationships with suppliers who can get you what you need consistently and quickly.
  • Personnel: Planning and scheduling employee time is critical to developing a successful production work flow plan. There should be enough workers on hand to finish projects within the promised time frame but not enough to bloat your payroll or create inefficiencies by crowding your work space. It helps to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each staff member so you can leverage employee skills and circumvent potential difficulties.
  • Machinery: Like your employees, your equipment has a limited number of capacity hours that should be scheduled thoughtfully. Machines should be well maintained according to a schedule that doesn't take them out of production any longer than necessary.

Tools for Scheduling Production

  • Software: Once the logistics of your production schedule become complex enough to bog you down, there is a range of software options available to help you manage the details. Programs help you to set priorities, coordinate processes and manage staffing.
  • Written documents: If your production processes are relatively simple, you may be able to effectively create useful and meaningful lists so team members and managers have a clear idea of what needs to happen and in what order.  Timelines and flow charts can help to provide useful visuals to help staff understand how processes interface.
  • Custom spreadsheets: You can also design your own spreadsheets to plan and communicate work flow. Custom spreadsheets offer the advantage of being tailored specifically to your company and your processes. They pose the disadvantage of potentially being less robust or nimble than a software system designed by professionals drawing on a deeper and broader database of scheduling tools and knowledge.

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F.A.Q. about Production Planning

What is production planning?

Production planning – a systematic approach, which helps to calculate and estimate goals and stages of manufacturing process during the constant changes of multiple factors. Some of these factors might include an increase of product range, introduction of new manufacturing equipment, changing inventory stock and others.

For a manufacturers it is very important to be able to make calculations and estimates of these factors as precisely, as possible. As a result they want to be able to answer all of the following questions:

  • What are we planning to produce?
  • What do we need for that?
  • What do we have?
  • What else is needed?

What are the types of  production planning software?

The development of technology has made production-planning process very easy to perform. While there are still manufacturing companies, utilizing pen and paper, when doing their MRP estimates, most manufacturing companies using one or the other type of software solution.

Spreadsheet based software – Excel, Open Office or Google Documents. For example Microsoft Excel comes with a standard Microsoft Office package already preinstalled on every Windows PC, thus baring no additional expenses for business.

In addition, Excel is a very easy tool to work with, it has a big user database worldwide, so any question that might occur will be answered.  However, no matter how good of a tool Excel is, it has its limitations. One of these limitations is speed – the more different tables and individual files are being interlinked between each other, the slower is the performance of an Excel work file.

Custom made planning software – this includes solutions done in-house. Companies that decide to go this route, most often than not have experience working with Excel or similar spreadsheet based software. By creating solution in-house manufacturer is thinking of increasing the productivity and reliability of its planning department.  While idea of using some sort of software instead of a complex spreadsheet is a good one, creating a totally new planning software from scratch could be very challenging.

Specialized production planning software – a professionally developed production planning software for small business offers the best of two worlds – it provides all the production planning features that a small business needs and unlike spreadsheet software it is fast and reliable.

What is project management software?

Project management software is a suite of tools that helps improve production teams’ efficiency. They usually come as cloud-based, multi-user platforms that host features such project planning and scheduling, collaboration, advanced reporting, and project budgeting, among many others. They are meant to ensure that all project stakeholders are constantly in the know and that every project is delivered on time.

What does project management software do?

Some of the best features revolve around the generation of repetitive and unique tasks and projects, team collaboration, project completion, proper tracking for the purposes of budgeting and due diligence, and effective documentation. But that’s par for the course for most applications in the market.

  • Project tracking. This is the most basic function of a project management software: tracking your projects. This includes being able to track who worked on which task last, the general overview of the entire project, identifying bottlenecks, and identifying performers.
  • Easier collaboration. It makes it easier for coworkers to check on the latest changes to a project, pick up where they left off, or pick up from where their colleagues left off.
  • Better communication. Part of the collaborative effort involves better communication, and the best project management software should make person-to-person and department-to-department communication easier and more efficient.
  • Documentation. Since tracking a project involves documenting the knowledge gained throughout the entire endeavor, proper documentation is key. This means your app should be able to help you and your team simplify the process of documenting changes, technology, project updates, and new intelligence.
  • Accurate dashboards for reporting. This is an important purpose of productivity planner app and software. Accurate reporting is a key component of identifying your company’s KPI, and project management software should help you in generating the best reports for your business.

What are the factors to consider when getting a project management software?

  • Task and project creation. Most of the time, you’ll be using your project management software as a task calendar to create cyclical, templated projects. But once in a while, you’ll want to create unique tasks and projects for your company’s needs. The flexibility between creating unique tasks and projects and setting up templated ones is integral in ensuring that you are able to tackle projects of different shapes and sizes.
  • Simple and efficient reporting. If you’re going to be working with a project management system, you’ll need accurate report creation powers. This feature is found in all of the best organiser apps in the market. And for good reason: when you’re working on a project that blew up in terms of man-hours and budget, you will want to be able to pinpoint just how much you spent on the project, and what caused the problem. A good reporting feature in a productivity calendar will go a long way in helping with this.
  • File sharing options. It’s always awesome whenever a project management solution offers decent storage space for all the files you’ll be sharing. But sometimes, having the option to use a third-party storage solution like Box or Dropbox can be helpful too, especially if you’re more familiar with another cloud storage provider.
  • Intuitive and clean UI. A good user interface can make or break a good project management team. Sometimes, having an easy time using the application can be more important than what the application can do.
  • Reliable support. Who are you going to call when something breaks in your project management software? Knowing that you’re working with people who are willing and able to help you come up with a solution to your app’s issues is a treasure