Before exploring the methods for simplifying production planning it is imperative to understand what production planning is all about. Production planning forms the epicentre of a manufacturing process with an objective to minimize production time and costs and efficiently organize, utilize resources at the workplace to its optimum levels. Production planning incorporates a multiplicity of production elements, ranging from the everyday activities of staff to the ability to realize accurate delivery timelines for the customer. With an effective production planning operation at its nucleus, any form of manufacturing process has the capability to exploit its full potential. However, there is no single pattern of production method which is universally applicable to all types of production systems. The production plan/strategy varies from one enterprise to another.
Though there are various production planning techniques that can be employed based on the enterprise requirement, here's how to use the following are the 3 broad and simplified production planning approaches that are the best and most relevant.
- Continuous Production - Deals with production of standardized products with a standard set of process, i.e. through series of steps or operations in anticipation of demand. This strategy is mostly employed in units where large volumes of throughput are expected. This method is therefore known as mass flow production or assembly line production too. Though fewer resources are required for product quality and processes, higher investments are required by way of machinery. These specially designed equipment and methods are used so that lower production costs can be achieved. In addition to this, tasks handled by workers are fragmented into much smaller units which in turn helps simplification, efficiency and mastery of the work that needs to be performed. Examples include assembling automobile engines, oil refineries, cement manufacturing plants, all of which involve large volumes.
- Job or Unit Production - Production is as per customer's specification; every batch is made up of similar products and is different from other batches. This is also termed as batch system. Capital spent on machinery is relatively lower as compared to other systems. This approach is dynamic and flexible, capable of being adapted to alterations or modifications with respect to product design and order sizes without much inconvenience. This system is best used in industries where specific products are produced in specified quantities as per customers' requirements. Batch production systems are often referred to as job shops.
- Intermittent Production - In this system the goods are produced in part to meet customers' orders and partly to maintain a small inventory for emergency requirements. In the intermittent production approach, sub-elements which make up products are made and stored as inventory; and can be used in different combinations for different customers. For example, printing presses or plants manufacturing vehicles or electrical goods, utilize this system of production. This method can also be called as “one-shot” system. Given this, management methods to oversee intermittent production have to be specially devised to contain the costs of production within reasonable levels.
In the end, the bottom line purpose of any production planning is the uninterrupted supply and movement of labor and raw materials, optimal utilization of heavy machinery and related equipment, in order to bring about the desired manufacturing results in terms of quality, quantity, time and place. A well planned production is the only way to get them all.