When it comes to providing high quality products in a timely and cost-effective way, production planning and scheduling processes can not only help map out necessary resources, processes, and steps, but they also build realistic schedules to ensure manufacturing processes run according to plan.

Read on to learn more about production planning software, as well as where our senior-level consultants can fit in your organization.

What is Production Planning?

Production planning (PP), also commonly referred to as advanced planning, is a process that outlines a company’s strategy for making products and services, including the materials, personnel, equipment, training, capacity, quantity, and routing methods needed to complete the production cycle on time and within budget.

Production planning processes help companies allocate their raw materials more effectively, make use of available resources more efficiently, and align resource use with demand for optimized production processes and timelines.

With maximized production planning processes, companies are able to…

  • More accurately map the process for turning a product idea into a tangible good
  • Identify raw materials needed to meet customer demand for any given product
  • Create timelines to ensure tasks are completed accurately and on-time
  • Outline project teams to organize and manage specific parts of the production process, identify bottlenecks, and solve issues proactively
  • Determine production quantities, product use per period, and inventory levels to align investments with capacity and demand across the entire supply chain
  • Specify production type and manufacturing setting and outline goals and objectives to meet the needs of their Manufacturing & Planning teams

Well-defined production planning processes can not only create a more efficient production environment for your company, but they can also optimize both customer-dependent (i.e., delivery) and customer-independent (i.e., production cycle) processes.

Production Planning vs. Production Scheduling

While both production planning and production scheduling processes have features and capabilities that make them unique, they are oftentimes used in conjunction with each other for more efficient production management across business units.

What is Production Planning?

On one hand, production planning focuses more on a company’s longer-term goals, objectives, production targets, and milestones throughout their entire supply chain, and it involves the whole manufacturing process, from gathering resources to producing final products.

Here are a few main components of production planning that help companies keep their demand and their available resources aligned…

  • Cost of resources to produce items that meet quality standards and consumer needs
  • Availability of items in stock
  • Bill of Materials (BOM) that outlines the components needed for the final product
  • Timeline for turning raw materials into finished products (i.e., manufacturing lead time)
  • Proper frequency and volume (i.e., lot sizes) of materials and items in stock

What is Production Scheduling?

On the other hand, production scheduling is designed with a larger focus on short-term decision making and day-to-day supply chain management (SCM) operations and is more detailed in nature.

Production scheduling software helps define quantities and inventory levels of single finished products or stock keeping units (SKUs) rather than production families, and it outlines who or which machine will produce each SKU within a shorter, more specific timeline.

With manufacturing scheduling software, companies are enabled to…

  • Identify and assign the right machinery and equipment to manufacturing processes
  • Define and allocate raw materials to the correct master production schedule
  • Leverage utilization information from equipment or manufacturing execution system
  • Place appropriate workers on the right tasks and in the right areas of the plant floor
  • Synchronize resources and priorities to fulfill customer needs more efficiently

Main Types of Production Plans

1) Flow: Driven by demand

  • Continuous production process that begins with work orders (WOs) and doesn’t stop until finished goods are produced
  • Focuses on leveraging machinery and very little intervention to improve efficiency
  • Goal: Increase speed of production to minimize overall production lead times

2) Mass: Driven by demand

  • Continuous flow process that leverages standardized processes to create a line of identical products
  • Typically used when large quantities of the same product are needed to fulfill purchase orders (POs) and maintain uniformity across the board
  • Goal: Cut production costs by producing standardized products quickly and efficiently on a much larger scale

3) Process: Driven by continuous processes

  • Assembly-line process that leverages different types of machinery to complete separate tasks across the supply chain
  • Usually the type of production process pictured when you think about manufacturing tasks and production progress
  • Goal: Operate machinery with precision and intention to keep assembly line operating smoothly and efficiently

4) Job: Driven by smaller-scale processes

  • Specialized process designed to manufacture a single product with a unique production plan or specific product customization requirements
  • Typically used for smaller-scale productions, but can be extended and applied to projects at larger manufacturing facilities
  • Goal: Meet defined criteria, fulfill customer needs and preferences, and simplify production for specialized products

5) Batch: Driven by production groups

  • Manufacturing process used to produce goods in groups, rather than individually or through continuous flow production processes
  • Typically used to produce similar products on a larger scale
  • Goal: Reduce batch production cycles to manufacture larger quantities of goods in a shorter amount of time

Key Advantages of Production Planning

1) Scalable and Adaptable

Accounting for risks and the possibility for errors (i.e., a faulty or broken machine) throughout the manufacturing process can be a make-or-break factor in your company’s success.

Adaptable and scalable production plans allow manufacturing teams to not only withstand and prepare for change in the industry, but also update product plans, quantities, or standards to meet evolving consumer needs over time.

2) Cost-Efficient Solutions

By proactively considering costs and outlining a well-defined plan for production before manufacturing begins, your company can create higher margins while keeping costs at a minimum.

Poor (or lack of) planning usually leads to extended production cycles and unnecessary expenses down the road, which is why production planning offers the key features and capabilities needed to accurately plan resources and eliminate waste.

3) Strategic Resource Allocation

By outlining a specific production plan to meet product requirements and consumer needs, companies can make better decisions to strategically allocate resources and maximize resource use with balanced levels of depletion.

Production plans usually consider the materials needed to make a product, the time to produce each product, monetary assets needed for production, and how to use each resource in the most efficient way possible.

Strategic resource allocation also helps companies to avoid major manufacturing pitfalls by ensuring adequate preparation before the production process begins, ensures processes are completed on-time and within budget, and delivers consumer products in a timely manner.

4) Improved Communication

When outlining an efficient production plan, maintaining communication between business units and areas of the supply chain should be at the top of the priority list.

Well-defined production plans typically facilitate communication between suppliers and manufacturers to ensure the proper resources, quantities, and timelines to produce goods more efficiently.

What is Production Planning Software?

A production planning system (PPS) is a software tool that helps companies facilitate efficient manufacturing processes, optimize operational planning and control, monitor production, and get the most out of their ERP systems.

From small businesses to large corporations and everything in between, manufacturing production planning software gives companies the tools, resources, and functionality needed to make better production decisions, significantly reduce lead times, and ensure that production and planning teams are operating correctly, collaboratively, and effectively.

Here are the main components of production planning software…

  • Production program planning
  • Material requirements planning (MRP)
  • Make-to-stock and make-to-order planning
  • Time and capacity planning
  • Bill of Materials-level planning
  • Order release and monitoring
  • Insights, analytics, demand forecasting, and other data visualization tools

Production planning software enables users to…

1) Allocate resources and optimize resource use throughout the supply chain

2) Meet production timelines and ensure reliable product delivery

3) Leverage automatic and adaptable production planning and scheduling to address unexpected changes, update production schedules, and define efficient workflows

4) Reduce manufacturing lead times

5) Streamline processes and reduce costs through integrations with HR, Payroll, Financial Planning, and other essential functions within your ERP system

6) Maximize inventory management processes to measure stock in real time and set minimum inventory levels to avoid stock outs

7) Create reports, invoices, charts, and other documentation for all production stages

Where Can SAP Production Planning Help?

SAP Production Planning (SAP PP) is a component of the SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) that helps companies plan, manage, and maintain efficient manufacturing, sales, and distribution processes across the supply chain.

Here are a few main functions of the SAP PP module…

  • Defines Bill of Materials for more efficient MRP and product costing processes
  • Tracks and records manufacturing process flows across business units
  • Monitors goods movement from raw materials to finished products
  • Manages product routing and capacity planning
  • Executes production order to ensure accurate and timely manufacturing processes

The main components of the SAP production process include…

1) Discrete manufacturing

This involves leveraging order-based production processes to manufacture batch products or products whose demand and quantity change regularly.

2) Repetitive manufacturing

This process is used when the same product is produced repetitively over time, and production occurs in terms of total quantity rather than individual lots.

3) Processing industry (PP – PI)

This is typically used in manufacturing processes that use batch management to differentiate between each item produced at any given time.

Partnering with the Best

Whether you need help getting started with new production scheduling or planning software (like SAP PP), understanding historical data to align supply and demand more efficiently, leveraging advanced analytics and reporting to predict future demand, or anything in between, Surety Systems is here to help.

Our team of senior-level ERP consultants has the technical skills, functional expertise, and real-world experience needed to lead you to success, regardless of the size or complexity of your manufacturing teams or projects.

Getting Started with Us

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