Production planning and scheduling – The complete guide

Has your manufacturing business grown to a large production unit with multiple departments, production and assembly lines, and supply chains? Do you want to scale up but find it difficult to plan and schedule the production cycle? This is where production planning and scheduling help in the adequate use of resources while keeping the supply chain moving smoothly.

This article explains production planning and scheduling and their importance and stages in the manufacturing industry.

What is production planning?

Production planning is strategic decision-making for optimal production, resource allocation, and scheduling to meet the organisational objectives and market demand. It is a comprehensive analysis of the type and quantity of items to produce.

The production planning process considers the sales forecasts, market demand, and internal production capabilities with these goals in sight –

  1. Forecast the customer demand and market trends.
  2. Set goals and objectives for production.
  3. Determine the types and quantities of goods to manufacture.
  4. Identify the materials, labour, and equipment needed.
  5. Allocate human and monetary resources efficiently.
  6. Set a manufacturing schedule.

Planners use production management software to set and adjust the parameters that affect how material requirement planning (MRP) calculates update frequency, production batch, and planning horizon, and a choice between made-to-order (MTO) and made-to-stock (MTS).

What is production scheduling?

Production scheduling creates a detailed timetable for a specific order. It makes critical decisions on tasks they should commence depending on the availability of resources and dependencies, and constraints.

The factors to consider are the availability of machines, materials, and labour. Production scheduling streamlines the workflow keeping these goals in sight –

  1. Sequence the order of tasks for the production cycle.
  2. Assign resources such as equipment and labour to specific tasks.
  3. Minimise idle time and maximise the utilisation of resources.
  4. Adapt to changing customer demands and market disruptions.
  5. Ensure timely delivery.

Both production planning and scheduling work in tandem. While the former looks at the bigger picture, the latter takes short-term decisions.

Why is production planning and scheduling important?

Production planning and scheduling are crucial for successful manufacturing operations due to these reasons –

  1. Meet customer demands – Ensure timely delivery of goods with efficient planning and scheduling and deliver the products in the right quantity at the right time. Minimise the lead times, avoid item out-of-stock situations, and exceed customer expectations.
  2. Optimal utilisation of resources – Allocate the resources optimally to minimise idle time and costs and maximise productivity and operational efficiency.
  3. Control the cost – Avoid over or under-production by accurate demand forecasting. Eliminate or minimise the cost of holding the inventory on the shelf, remove bottlenecks, and reduce setup times, all of which contribute to cost reduction.
  4. Increase production efficiency – Establish robust workflows to streamline the production process, identify and eliminate inefficiencies, and reduce waste. This optimises the production flow reducing cycle times.
  5. Make timely decisions – With clear planning and scheduling, you can make informed and timely decisions. Decide production and resource allocation priorities, adapt to internal and external changes, and do efficient capacity management.
  6. Achieve faster growth – With good planning and scheduling, you can quickly scale up to meet higher demand in changing market conditions and align the operations accordingly.
  7. Improve continuously – Monitor and improve the production process continuously through data analysis and schedule evaluation to keep a competitive advantage.

Production planning and scheduling stages

A manufacturing production planning software takes a systematic approach through these 5 stages –

Stage 1 – Demand forecasting and capacity planning

Demand forecasting analyses historical data and market trends to predict future patterns. The data it analyses is –

  1. Past sales numbers.
  2. Tax rules and regulations.
  3. Current and future manufacturing trends.
  4. Advancements in technology.

Capacity planning comes after demand forecasting. It evaluates the capabilities of the manufacturing facility, availability of equipment and workforce, and constraints.

Stage 2 – Material planning and sourcing

Manage material planning and sourcing, and identify the quantities of material, components, and labour needed to meet the production schedule. Set strong supplier relationships for a smooth supply chain. Schedule delivery of goods, negotiate good prices and maintain quality standards.

Stage 3 – Resource allocation and scheduling

Create a comprehensive schedule and timeline of activities needed for a smooth production process. Assign specific tasks to teams and workstations considering their skills and workload.

Stage 4 – Production control

Monitor the production and ensure that it sticks to the schedule and follows the quality standards. Identify any deviations from the schedule or the quality and take corrective actions. This depends on real-time data from the production line.

Stage 5 – Master production scheduling

Set up a master production schedule (MPS) that details the items needed within a given period. Monitor the production process to minimise waste, improve productivity, and ensure timely delivery of items to customers.

For organisations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organisational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organisations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organisations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.

How can Infosys BPM help?

Optimise the cost of manufacturing through value engineering and process transformation through the following services –

  1. Should costing.
  2. Analytics and performance management.
  3. Documentation support.
  4. Production planning and control.
  5. Quality management.
  6. Employee health and safety support.
  7. MES support.

Read more about the manufacturing support services at Infosys BPM.

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