For COOs, VPs of Operations, VPs of Production, VPs of Manufacturing and Plant Managers
There are many internal factors affecting production management that can cause negative impact on teams and product output. Know these 5 factors that could be affecting your production strategy, including best practices to prevent risks and protect the bottom line.
5 Elements Affecting Production Management
- Productivity & Retention of People
- Maintenance of Equipment & Assets
- Production Planning & Scheduling
- Quality Control & Compliance
- Continuous Improvement – Lean Production Approach
The Importance of Production Management
In a nutshell, production management entails the management of producing the scheduled quantity of product for any given line, shift, day, week, month or quarter. Because keeping the plant operating requires the coordination of other operational teams, it is often considered operations management as well. In general, operations may include multiple plants led by individual plant managers, so there may be multiple leaders involved in effective production management.
Effective production management of the areas below can reduce the risk to your people, equipment and business as failure to effectively deliver can result in loss of customers.
Factors Affecting Production Management & Best Practices to Avoid Business Impact
1) Productivity & Retention of People
People management is perhaps the most critical aspect of production management. 77 percent of manufacturers say they’ll have ongoing difficulties attracting and retaining workers beyond 2021, according to a Deloitte & Manufacturing Institute study. This could cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion in 2030 alone. With fewer young professionals choosing careers in manufacturing, finding and keeping employees has become increasingly difficult. Although there are many entry-level positions that a manufacturer can hire for, managing the skill sets and capabilities required for staffing positions in supervision and management are the most critical for plant leadership.
Best Practices for Managing People in Production
Production managers must understand frontline workers’ abilities and be able to develop and enhance these employees’ skills to ensure future success. Today’s workers expect to have technology available to do their jobs. As most incoming employees have cellphones and tablets, equipping them with the necessary tools to improve onboarding processes, streamline their job, and improve safety will improve job satisfaction.
- Safety is expected by everyone involved with production so manage safety procedures to ensure that employees follow them. Not only will this help achieve compliance goals, but employees will gain perspective that the company cares about their well being.
- Enable workers with a centralized repository of information like Cloud ERP Software. Modern and easy-to-use software platforms will ensure teams can do their job efficiently and effectively and reduce downtime.
- Keep employees connected with instant communication platforms, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, for quick collaboration. Mobile software platforms will improve process efficiency and access to information, helping them stay productive wherever they are.
- Provide on-going training for workers to improve their knowledge base and skillsets.
2) Maintenance of Equipment & Assets
The management of equipment assets and other physical resources is another important aspect of effective production management.
For many manufacturers, when machines aren’t running, product is not being produced. Generally measured by the key performance indicator (KPI) “availability”, it is better known by its corollary, “downtime”. Unplanned downtime is estimated to cost industrial manufacturers $50 billion each year. In the most successful production management environments, unexpected downtime is to be avoided at all costs because downtime translates into the risk of not delivering on time and affecting the bottom line. Planned downtime is fine when scheduled, such as for periodic maintenance, setting up for a product change on a line, or simply scheduled idle time.
The Maintenance department is a critical team within Operations, but maintenance technicians are in high demand, but short supply. Key to effective production management is plant leadership keeping their eyes on the “health” of their assets to maximize revenue-producing time. This requires proper maintenance planning and execution in addition to staffing.
Best Practices for Managing Production Equipment
- Maintain a list of equipment in the plant with a maintenance schedule that has been agreed upon between Production and Maintenance.
- Include maintenance activities in the production schedule to reserve critical preventative maintenance activities and and manage those tasks using work orders.
- Ensure that all equipment has the necessary safety & maintenance information and make it available to all workers.
- Classify your activities by plant, line, machine, or whatever gives you valuable historical information to better maintain production management of your assets.
3) Production Planning and Scheduling
Planning and scheduling of which products are to be produced in any given time period is a function of the quantities and delivery dates agreed to by Sales. Commitments made by Sales need to come from the knowledge of available capacity on the production floor. Effective production management ensures that Sales has visibility to the resources and capacity of the plant that have not been committed, which is often reported as “Available to Promise” (ATP). “Capable to Promise” (CTP) is a related term that considers additional resources that may be inbound making a future date with shop floor capacity “capable” of being promised to a customer. Generally, CTP requires some communication and collaboration between Sales and production management.
Planning for the production floor is typically done at a higher level with a broader view of the plant capacity and customer demand, but the day-to-day schedule is generally managed by the production team. Their knowledge of the operations of the equipment and skillsets of the frontline workers allows them to better schedule individual production runs on their selected production lines.
But because the most predictable thing in production is change, everyone must keep their data up-to-date and in the ERP system for all to see. Absent the dreaded unplanned downtime, effective production management is simply executing the schedule with the resources available and juggling those elements as they change.
Best Practices for Production Planning and Scheduling
- Make the production plan and schedule visible to all stakeholders, especially production management.
- Ensure that the plant is staffed for the scheduled demand and that equipment to be used is operational.
- Maintain an up-to-date production schedule to give everyone a clear view of what is scheduled and what is available. When there is a question or a change, communicating between the affected parties needs must be quick and productive. Rootstock Production Management Software provides a 360 degree view of production and workflows for instant communication.
4) Quality Control & Compliance
No matter how much or how fast you produce product, if product quality does not meet the customers’ expectations, it can have critical impact on the organization and bottom line, thus affecting production management teams at the forefront. Quality criteria are agreed to at a very granular level for most products. Criteria is held to an even higher, more precise levels in industries like automotive, aerospace and medical devices or related ISO certified organizations.
Quality compliance entails not only delivering the product with the agreed upon functional characteristics and features, but dimensional and other specifications must be proven through inspection and documentation. While regular measurements may be taken at the point of production, strict quality procedures must be followed by everyone along the chain and their work and measurements must be documented in case of an audit by the customer or industry regulator. Regulatory compliance in industries like medical device manufacturing goes even further into the actual processes and equipment used, so policies and checks must be installed to ensure everyone follows these agreed upon practices.
Best Practices for Managing Quality in Production
- Maintain product specifications and procedures as outlined in the control plan so everyone involved in production understands their jobs and how to conduct their work according to the plan.
- Automate manual tasks to eliminate human error, increase accuracy and visibility. This includes documenting all inspections digitally against the required specification to eliminate human error. When measurements are compared to the acceptable range digitally, Rootstock combined with our partner ComplianceQuest’s enterprise quality management system (EQMS) can prevent quality errors from ever happening.
- Maintain documentation in the system to ensure that your production management team is compliant and is always ready for an audit.
- Traceability is a key requirement for manufacturers to gain greater control over product and process quality. Cloud ERP systems let you trace all activities involved in production and provide complete product and service histories.
5) Continuous Improvement – Lean Production Approach
Continuous improvement (CI), or lean manufacturing as it is commonly known, is a production management approach and best practice focused on eliminating waste of many kinds from production processes while focusing on increasing the value that customers will perceive from the products they buy from you. There are many well established continuous improvement techniques that help production management organizations create a culture that honors workers’ desire to continuously improve while managing projects to implement ideas for improvement.
Best Practices for Continuous Improvement in Production Management
Manage and communicate the ideas, objectives and progress from employees and CI professionals and make their goals and progress visible to the entire team, not just production management. People (and teams) will support what they help to create. Today’s workers are more focused on improving their productivity than ever before. Knowing what “better” means and achieving it helps every employee feel more a part of the company’s success and improves retention.
Watch the video from Unionwear President, Mitch Cahn, as he talks about transitioning to the cloud to support lean manufacturing goals.