What is a production planner? (With requirements and skills)
Production operations can be complex and require careful management to ensure things run smoothly and generate satisfactory results. Manufacturing companies recruit planners to manage and monitor their production lines and processes. Understanding the role of a production planner can help you decide if the role suits your career goals or preferences. In this article, you can discover the answer to the question, 'What is a production planner?', an outline of their responsibilities and a list of the requirements and skills for the job.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What is a production planner?
The answer to 'What is a production planner?' is that they're individuals who create and manage production schedules, ensuring efficient, timely and cost-effective manufacturing of products. They arrange for the raw materials for a production process to be available when necessary. They monitor production with other experts, such as engineers, to make sure they're working within budget and time constraints and creating quality products.
Production planner requirements
To qualify for the role of a production planner, an organisation may expect the following:
Bachelor's degree in business management or a related field
Organisations may require candidates seeking a production planner's role to possess a bachelor's degree in business management or supply chain management. This demonstrates that you have a basic knowledge of managing business processes. It also indicates that you're conversant with the required skills and tools for executing production management tasks.
Related: What is a bachelor's degree?
Knowledge of software applications
Production planners try to ensure a smooth workflow by scheduling work shifts for production teams to meet set deadlines. You may use software applications to organise production schedules, manage budgets and collaborate with other employees in the team. Demonstrating that you can use these tools to organise documents and keep appropriate records is an important requirement.
Certifications relevant to production testify to your ability to manage a production line. Many production planners gain a Certified in Production and Inventory Management certificate from an accredited institution, like The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. This certification shows that you're familiar with the best practices for managing an organisation's internal supply chain.
Demonstrating relevant work experience is typically a key requirement when applying for a production planner position. You may include experience related to managing or contributing to the efficiency of a production process, including working as a logistics manager, process engineer or quality control manager. Highlighting relevant past duties in your CV or cover letter shows that you can fulfil the duties of the job.
Responsibilities of a production planner
As a production planner, your duties may include the following:
Managing the production process
Production planners manage the activities during production to maintain efficiency and satisfy company requirements. This involves overseeing the production budget, working with external vendors, planning the production schedule and monitoring workflow to ensure the process is accurate and consistent with the allocated time. You may also prepare performance and inventory reports.
Collaborating with the production team
The manufacturing process requires a production planner to work with other production team members, like managers, engineers and warehouse and quality control employees. By working together, you can monitor the efficiency of the manufacturing process and maintain product quality. For example, warehouse employees manage the storage of products, while the quality control department ensures products meet industry standards. Effective collaboration may involve attending meetings, communicating requirements, discussing production stages, resolving issues and sending paperwork to the correct department.
Production planners prepare paperwork that contains information about a production process. This information may include raw material requirements, quality control results or similar data and usually undergoes review by managers or executives. It enables you to plan how and where to reduce production costs while maintaining satisfactory results.
Solving production issues
The production planner works to promptly resolve issues that may arise during manufacturing and affect work efficiency. For example, there may be an unexpected employee shortage or a machine that requires repair during production. As a production planner, you may report to the relevant department to resolve the issue. You may also be proactive and solve potential situations. For example, you may proactively identify the procedure for arranging for a substitute employee in the event of an employee's absence due to an emergency.
Determining production requirements
Each production line requires a specific set of materials, skills and business processes to function effectively. Your job is to specify the requirements for executing production. These requirements may include raw materials, labour, finances, equipment and machines. Identifying the prerequisites for production helps the company prepare adequately or make relevant adjustments to suit its requirements.
As a production planner, you typically present reports to the manager about the status of production activities at relevant stages. These status reports discuss issues that may affect the efficiency of the manufacturing process and the company's revenue goals, such as additional costs. The reports may be oral or written and can help a company determine new ways to execute production and improve revenue.
Changing production plans
Unanticipated events may require you to adjust initial plans to ensure that you meet production deadlines. You may be responsible for conducting and communicating these changes to the relevant departments. For example, you may change the work schedules for a day due to adverse weather.
Production planner skills
Here are some skills you require to excel as a production planner:
As a production planner, you manage the supply chain and try to prevent delays in the production process. This includes planning to transport goods and materials to appropriate destinations at the right time. Effectively handling a company's logistics helps you manage the production line and work within time constraints.
Mathematics and statistics
You typically manage production costs, budgets and other relevant statistics. When planning for production, accurate calculations allow a company to understand a production's requirements and allocate sufficient resources. Skills in mathematics can also help you implement strategies or negotiate deals with external vendors to reduce production costs.
Your time management skills allow you to execute your role effectively when planning and managing manufacturing operations. For example, you may estimate the time requirements for a project or activity. This skill permits you to allocate time for specific projects to ensure they meet set deadlines.
Good organisational skills can help to ensure the efficiency of a production process. They enable you to manage raw materials, projects, paperwork and other activities. Organising data and tracking production performance may involve using software tools, such as spreadsheets. Organisational skills also allow you to effectively collaborate with other employees or external suppliers and send reports to the correct departments.
Resource management skills enable you to manage resources for a project efficiently. In addition to implementing strategies to acquire the best materials from reliable suppliers, you may oversee the correct use of raw materials, machines, work tools and the company facility. You may also be responsible for managing the financial budget for production.
Your communication skills allow you to collaborate and negotiate effectively with other employees or suppliers. You may attend meetings with other employees, submit reports or collectively come up with solutions to issues. With excellent oral and written communication skills, you can work efficiently in a team and ensure the production process runs smoothly.
Production planning can be a complex process that requires an analytical mind. Analytical skills allow you to evaluate a system or project and determine how things may work under a variety of conditions. They also help you to define the metrics for measuring a system's performance and ways to improve it for optimal results.
Inventory management is a skill that allows you to track the movement of products from the point of manufacture to the warehouses for storage or the sales location. The appropriate management of inventories provides you with accurate records of the number of products a production line produces, including those in storage or available for sale. Inventory management documents also show if the production process satisfies the company's revenue goal.
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