Production planning in a manufacturing company is based on preparing a production schedule. How you organise your production plan (by machines, operations, or workflow?) is a very important component that affects clarity and transparency. The issue seems simple because who, if not you, knows best to organise processes in your manufacturing business? Remember, if your production plan is clear and readable, everyone knows what they must do and which tasks are priorities without constantly asking. It is the least annoying to answer never-ending questions from your shop floor staff.
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Production planning in a small manufacturing company
MANUAL (examples, schedule, production plan, software for production management and...
The organisation of the production schedule
If you want the most simplified production plan, paradoxically, it is best to extend it and add operations closely linked to production, which can dramatically change the transparency of your work.
As a way of better organisation of the production plan, you can include some non-production operations. This practice significantly improves the organisation of work in the company, although it is surprising, as these are often operations that do not necessarily involve the production itself.
What can be included in the production plan/schedule
See what unobvious things you can include in the production plan:
- Technology preparation – “manufacturing process engineer machine”
If you want to avoid delays in the execution of customer orders, proper job queuing and planning become extremely important. Due to staff shortages (there aren’t enough manufacturing process engineers on the market), that part of the manufacturing process is crucial, so including the technologist and process department in the plan ensures that long hours of technology preparation, documentation or technical drawings are calculated, and included in the total order estimate and lead time. And since this is not a job on the shop floor or workshop machines, it is very easy to ignore or forget to include it in the final cost estimation. When you create a “Manufacturing process engineer machine” and add it to your production schedule, you have a 100% guarantee that the whole manufacturing process is covered.
- Preparation of programs for machine tools, documentation CAD / CAM
As the first operation on the production plan, some of our customers add “Preparing Technology Documentation”, although it is an office job. This is a task for the production process engineer, so, in this sense, they are included in the production schedule. This practice may seem a bit strange, but it is incredibly helpful. There can be more than a dozen orders queued for the worker on the first machine by the boss or manager, but they can’t start work unless there is the right documentation or programs set for the machine. Otherwise, they have to skip the order or select a different one.
- Raw material assembly operations,
At times, you often have to go physically to the warehouse or back office and bring the raw materials needed to start and complete the job. Although one such “trip” takes, i.e. only 10 minutes, if we multiply it by several times a day, then there is not an insignificant amount. Do you calculate when you estimate manufacturing time and costs?
On the other hand, such calculations make you think: is it a good idea for the specialist machine operator to waste time walking around your workshop and focusing on mundane tasks when this job could be delegated to a trainee or someone with less experience and qualifications?
- Early preparation steps (much earlier than machine setup)
This includes adjusting the space on the shop floor, organizing the workstation, maintenance and cleaning activities, etc. Preparation steps in the production schedule fit nicely into various optimization approaches (lean manufacturing, one-piece flow method, Just-in-time, Deming Cycle, etc.), which place great importance on organization and efficiency.
- On-site measurements / other activities necessary to start production
This includes getting to the customer’s site, consultation and doing the measurements. This is a crucial part of the job in some industries (for example, without proper measurements, it is virtually impossible to make fitted furniture).
- All other activities involve your resources (i.e. employees, time and money).
How can you benefit from including additional operations in the production plan/schedule:
- The entire production process is much more transparent – because you can see all the steps a product needs to go through in one place. Having all operations, not just technology-based ones, even if they are not performed on the shop floor, gives the ability to overview the whole manufacturing process and the total order costs.
- Thanks to operation predecessors, workers can see if they can do something because the documentation / raw material/setting operations have been carried out (their operation will change its status from waiting for its predecessor to ready to work on).
- During the work, this gives you the opportunity not only to “keep the lights on” regarding the planning but also opens up the possibility to record time for these operations. This, in turn, offers tremendous statistics opportunities and uses them later for advanced analysis, etc.
- Very often, manufacturing process engineers and preparatory elements are “bottlenecks” in the small company, and that is not a lack of schedule on the production floor, but a lack of planning here is why something does not work and orders get stuck.
In a small business, it is a waste of time to set a precise and detailed production schedule. It would involve too many variables and work and require constant corrections. To commit to more orders and keep all deadlines, you need to know how much time is left for each operation in your current process and estimated machine occupancy. This is the basic information, without long and complicated analysis. You should be able to get an answer in one click. Fast and easy, as in the production plan created in Prodio.
Manufacturing Process Engineer, what’s in the job?
A Process Engineer, or Manufacturing Process Engineer, designs and implements systems and equipment procedures used in manufacturing facilities. Their main duties include testing and monitoring equipment, updating current system processes and conducting risk assessments. Manufacturing process engineer develops workflow, workstation, and equipment improvement recommendations within a company’s manufacturing environment. Fine-tunes manufacturing processes by researching, designing, modifying, and testing manufacturing methods and equipment, evaluates manufacturing processes and applies knowledge of product design, fabrication, assembly, tooling, and material. The production engineer is also responsible for developing and implementing process strategies, managing resources, optimizing current processes, and maintaining process documents. Ultimately, this job is to maintain production efficiency to reduce costs. The definition is quite general, and there are different specializations depending on the industry: material production engineer, wood technologist, food production engineer, quality and many more.
To ensure success as a process engineer, you should have extensive experience in process design, excellent technical skills, and high-level analytical skills. A top-class process engineer can analyze a process system and implement simple, effective changes to boost production.
Manufacturing engineer/ technologist responsibilities:
- organization of technological process,
- testing and selection of raw materials used in the manufacturing process,
- development of technical documentation,
- equipment training for employees,
- control of the raw materials and parameters of the production processes.
- meet with production managers to assess existing processes.
- drafting process ideas to reduce costs and improve production rates.
- performing risk assessments.
- designing and testing process upgrades and new process systems.
- ensuring processes comply with safety and quality standards.
- perform process simulations and troubleshoot issues.
- perform optimization tests.
- develop routines and best practices to ensure product quality.
- develop standardized operating instructions for the upgrade process.
- provide the Product Manager with process documents and standard operating procedures.
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