Life in the 21st century is complicated, if you do business in the manufacturing sector you certainly don’t need any further complications. Straight ahead and little planning may work in some industries, but in general you’ll get a long way if you have a plan.
Customers rely on the efficiency of your business, so it makes sense to invest in production planning. Manufacturing companies can save a lot of time and money by planning and organizing well.
1. Predict demand
Estimate demand so you know how many products you need to produce in a given period. You may already have some confirmed orders for the next few months, but in addition you need to predict how many more will come.
Any production plan should begin with some questions: what products do you need to produce to meet demand? What quantity do you need to produce? And what materials do you need to achieve that quantity? Because the procurement of many materials requires a longer lead time than the typical customer order, most manufacturing companies rely on past demand to estimate their procurement needs in advance.
While the past can be instructive, it is also a limited guide when it comes to predicting future market conditions, as it cannot fundamentally account for new and emerging conditions.
2. Manage your inventory
You’re almost certainly familiar with the concept of lean manufacturing, which means nothing more or less than using your resources as efficiently as possible.
Lean manufacturing is a way of producing that focuses on minimizing waste within production systems while maximizing productivity. Some of the benefits of streamlined manufacturing include shorter lead times, lower operating costs and improved product quality.
Thanks to automation and increasingly sophisticated assembly technologies, production today runs more efficiently than ever, but even the best machines won’t help you get ahead without proper planning.
3. Monitor and control
You want to make sure your plan is working as intended. Monitoring and controlling is about comparing what is happening with what should be happening. With a monitoring system, you can detect problems as soon as they occur, giving you more time to correct before it’s too late.
Use IoT software platforms: by implementing these types of smart, connected sensors in your production chain, you can enable real-time monitoring of production processes. In this way, you can track the progress of each product through the production line and monitor machine usage to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that there are no delays affecting your final output. In an Industry 4.0 environment, this type of tracking can even be automated so that planners receive notifications when something on the factory floor deviates from the plan.
4. Employee training
Manufacturing is never without danger; there may be some clunky machines that are needed to meet demand. Therefore, employee training is very important if you want to maintain the safety of your employees and protect the reputation of the company.
In addition, production is much more efficient when workers know what is expected of them. Quality control is also much easier to monitor when processes are predictable and repeatable.
Workers can hold you back if they don’t have accurate expectations about how long each of the production steps should take.
Good work instructions are at the root of well-trained workers.
5. Communicate your plan
After you have determined that you meet the criteria to begin production, the plan must be communicated to the employees who will carry it out. It is best to schedule production using the appropriate software which speeds up the process. However, a visual display is preferred as a means of communicating work schedules to operators.