Do you ever find that production grinds to a halt because supplies have run out? And have you ever experienced a slowdown while waiting for tools to arrive and for workers to get up to speed with using them? If you have ever encountered issues like these, it might be that your production planning needs some work.

A key part of making sure you are maximising productivity is having a sound, efficient production plan. Production planning may not be the most glamorous of functions, but it is crucial nonetheless.
Typically a production plan will document the materials, equipment, human resources, training, capacity and the methods needed to complete a given workload within a specified timeframe.

In today’s world of cross-border supply chains and integrated logistics streams, effective planning is a complex business. Meanwhile extreme competition among global competitors makes planning more critical to success than ever.

• Reduced labour costs, due to improved process flows
• Reduced inventory, thanks to lower safety stocks and less work in progress
• Improved delivery times, due to all of the above, leading to satisfied customers
• More repeat business, because satisfied customers usually come back

If you haven’t critiqued your production processes, it’s more than likely that you will have bottlenecks (restrictions or constraints) somewhere in the supply chain. These can be hard to shift and then quite often, simply move elsewhere in the process.

However making sure your production plan is correctly designed and managed could lead to some quick and easy improvements. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to check:

1. Are you using accurate sales forecasts?
2. Do you regularly assess your inventory controls?
3. Is your inventory system as efficient as it could be?
4. Have your production processes been standardised and mapped?
5. Are they always followed correctly?
6. Has waste been eliminated?

If your answer to any of these questions is ‘I’m not sure’ or, worse, ‘no’, then we recommend focusing immediate attention in those areas. Workshops to get to the root causes of inefficiencies can help.
But how should you go about installing improvements then monitoring, reporting on and adjusting your planning processes?

Communication is crucial. Planning and review meetings need to be run effectively and decisions based on accurate information. The right KPIs must be in place, and the right teams need to be involved with follow-up actions. Reporting lines need to be clear and concise, with numbers controlled at short intervals to right any wrongs before they cost you too much. The list goes on and on…

Not many mid-sized to large manufacturing companies survive in today’s fast-paced world without an effective production plan in place. If you’re not sure about the integrity of your production plan or want to turbocharge your improvements, please get in touch.

Engaging Renoir is a great first step towards best-in-class production planning. Through our unique methods, which are tried, tested and extremely successful, we will work hand-in-hand with your staff to help them take ownership of a continually improving planning process focused on your business needs.