8 Facts About Production Planners

No matter the size big or small all companies need to plan when they will produce products. Planning helps to maximize human resources, equipment and most possible product.

It takes time to make productive production plans but they are essential. What are some of the advantages?

  • Delivering products on time
  • Reduced labour costs
  • Optimized equipment usage and increased capacity

Sounds like some really good advantages. That’s why there is a job just for planning production runs because they make use of the advantages.

Who are these professionals who actually do the planning?

Production Planners! So read on to learn how production planners make sure that products are made on time with high efficiency.

1. Production Planners plan production schedules

Production planners are professionals responsible for:

Developing a production schedule of manufactured goods. These schedules take into consideration customer demands, the amount of materials needed, how much labour involved and so much more.

They monitor the execution of of production plans and help to resolve any potential issues in a timely fashion. If there is trouble in production they help to investigate root problems and solve them.

Production planners also spend a lot of their time analyzing back orders, current orders and upcoming orders to prioritize, plan, and schedule the production operations. This done through the use of demand planning software.

They work with management to forecast processes associated with customer demands in the supply chain. If a company is planning a promotion they will work with with sales, marketing, and finance groups to determine what is required.

Finally, they maintain reports for production planning activities and sequences so they can have a idea of how long things take to make. 

2. Production Planners forecast trends

One of the most difficult tasks that production planners do is forecasting how much inventory is needed. This isn’t always easy because no one can look into the future. So how to they actually makes these forecasts? They take into consideration:

  • Historical sales trends and seasonal trends
  • Market demands
  • Potential future trends
  • The budget of the company (Ex. Labour costs, materials)

Using these considerations they make educated guesses as to what the company will need and plan the best they can.

3. Production Planners have this education

There are many educational backgrounds you can take in order to become a production planner. Generally, production planners have a post-secondary education in business, industrial distribution, supply chain management or other mathematically related fields.

However, there are many companies that do not require a college degree. According to O*Net Online confirms,  36% of production, planning and expediting clerks held only a high school diploma or its equivalent (based on a 2016 survey). These individuals generally have experience working as a worker with in the company and manage to work their way up. This gives them insight about how things work in a manufacturing plant.

4. Production planning requires a high amount of collaboration

Production planner can’t simply plan what they want. (If they did they would be out of a job pretty fast!). Instead, they have to collaborate with many departments to  correctly forecast what is needed for production.

Firstly, they work with the business team by providing them with feed back on product demand forecasts.

Next they work with sales teams by setting innovations forecasts and corporate promotional volumes. This means they try to estimate how much product will be needed for a promotion. Next they work with stakeholders on specific company objectives related to product conversions, reducing dated stock write-offs and clear-out of excess inventories.

Keep in mind who they collaborate with will vary on the size of the company.

5. Production Planners constantly simplify processes

Companies constantly focus on simplifying business processes. Over time they gain more experience and listen to the needs of production workers they will find ways to simplify processes. By listening to these needs they are able to better plan production schedules. For example, if they notice that washing equipment takes a long time they will try to group these products together to safe time.

6.  Production planners prepare production reports

Production reports are reports used by manufactures to keep track essential information used in manufacturing. These reports include:

  • The product being produced
  • The target amount
  • How much labour was used to create it
  • How much down time there was

These reports are used to generate manufacturing metrics such as:

  • On-Time Delivery to Commit – This metric is the percentage of time that manufacturing delivers a completed product on the schedule that was committed to customers..
  • Time to Make Changeovers – Measures the speed or time it takes to switch a manufacturing line or plant from making one product over to making a different product.

These metrics are powerful tools because they help businesses determine where they are doing well and where improvements need to made.

7. Production Planner trouble shoot problems

Problems can arise in manufacturing that nobody expects. Even if these problems are solved there usually is some time wasted in between. This means time wasted where no products are made.

Production planners need to be prepared for problems happening. One way they combat wasted time is by creating revised production schedules when required due to design changes, labour or material shortages, backlogs, or other interruptions by collaborating with management, marketing, sales, production, or engineering.

8. Production Planners have these set of skills

Being a production planners requires a wide range of skills however there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

  • Prioritizing skills- Not all task are of equal importance. Prioritizing tasks means that you look at the big picture and are able to determine what tasks require your immediate attention. As well, effective prioritizing makes the very best use of your own resources and labour. Production planners use this skill on a daily basis, deciding which products such be made before other.
  • Time management- This skill goes hand and hand with the former. Having time management skills means that you are able to plan and control your time. It requires experience and skill to know how long something will take to do. Production planner uses this skill to complete their production schedules as this is what they spend most of their time doing.
  • Organization skills- Defined as making use of your time, energy and resources in a effective manner. Organization skills are important for production planners because they have to be well organized to make production plans.

Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a recent FoodGrad working as Quality Assurance Technician at a snack food company. She graduated with a Chemistry degree at Ryerson University and has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavors you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.


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