Planning and scheduling production is just the starting point in manufacturing. Once the production line is in action, managers need to keep a close eye on what’s happening to ensure they’re meeting the production schedule and delivering goods on time to retailers.
Production control is the way that managers keep track of the work being done in the manufacturing facility. Let’s look into what production control is, what a production controller does and explore the process of production control. We’ll also examine different types of production control systems and production control software.
What Is Production Control?
Production control is about monitoring and controlling all aspects of a manufacturer’s production and operation. It’s part of the larger supply chain management and it works in conjunction with other operation management functions such as inventory control and quality control.
The purpose of production control is to balance the output of a facility to guarantee that the specifications of the products being produced are met. It does this by applying specific actions and making insightful decisions to predict, plan and schedule work.
Some of the activities that are regulated in production control include labor, the availability of materials and any restrictions on capacity and cost. The end result of production control is to achieve the expected quality and demanded quantity while monitoring the production schedule to ensure that the production plan is being met.
In order to maintain quality and meet deadlines on the job, a production controller’s job is to monitor the facility and quickly respond to issues before they cause delays or erode product quality. ProjectManager is online project management software that delivers real-time data to help them make more insightful decisions. Our live dashboard provides a high-level view of production, from time to cost, workload and more in easy-to-read graphs and charts. Unlike other tools, there’s no time-consuming configuration required. It’s already set up and automatically collects and calculates real-time data. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Production Planning and Control (PPC)
Production planning and control is the larger strategy to detail plans that support manufacturers through operations that make sure everything is in the right place at the right time. The goal is to use resources more efficiently, but it moves beyond the factory floor to include other departments in the company, such as sales, marketing and procurement.
Some of the work in production planning and control include forecasting the materials that’ll be needed for the job, master production scheduling, long-term planning, demand management and more. It begins with demand forecasting for whatever product is to be assembled. The information gathered in this process, including what resources are on hand, will inform the production plan.
Manufacturers use production planning and control to optimize their manufacturing capacity in terms of both labor and machines while keeping costs down and discovering areas of improvement and growth. It also helps reduce the cost of inventory by only warehousing what’s necessary for production with a just-in-time scheduling strategy. Not having to carry more inventory than you need reduces costs.
PPC can improve on-time deliveries, which improves customer satisfaction and retention. There are also procurement benefits, such as knowing when to purchase materials for production and doing so in advance to get the best deal. This reduces resource waste and shortages while streamlining production processes and reducing interruptions in workflow, which makes for happier and more productive employees.
What Is a Production Controller?
Who is responsible for all of this? A production controller comes up with and manages the use of the machines in the production process as well as the processes involved in making products. They’re tasked with increasing efficiencies by supervising maintenance staff so that machines are properly cared for.
A production controller also tracks the production schedule, deliveries and shipments to and from the facility in order to maintain a smooth-running production line. Monitoring workflows is also part of their responsibilities. It’s their job to run efficient and safe facilities.
They have to have a background in manual labor management, organizational, scheduling and budgetary tasks and work well with other departments coordinating a variety of tasks. They work in manufacturing, but also industrial plans, such as automotive and aviation.
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Production Control Process
The production control process varies from industry to industry and even business to business. That said, there are some fundamental steps that are common in any production control process. They are as follows.
The first step of any production control process is the definition of your operation, from beginning to end. This includes what raw materials you’ll need for production, other resources, such as labor and equipment, the needed quantity, quality expectations and where the production will take place. This process is to determine the most efficient and cost-effective step-by-step manufacturing process through scheduling.
Routing, as noted, leads to scheduling. This is the time-related part of the work, dealing with when what will happen and for how long. The manufacturing schedule is sequenced in order of priority and has a start and finish date for each task. This is the timetable of the production process.
At this point, production begins. The implementation of the scheduled activities and routing is executed. There are two types of dispatching. One is called centralized in which orders are done by a specific authority. The other is decentralized, which means the order is done by those business units that are involved in the production. Materials are issued, records are maintained and work moves smoothly from one process to the next.
Expediting or Follow-Up
This is when monitoring production is focused on finding issues, such as faults or defects in the product, bottlenecks in the production and so forth. One way this is done is by measuring variance, which is the difference between the plan and the actual progress. This helps catch issues by evaluating the effectiveness of production and keeps production on schedule. Through this step ideas in terms of improving production can be developed.
Though not always included in the production control process, it’s still recommended that there are periodic audits to make sure that best practices are being followed. This ensures that the production is following required industry standards.
Types of Production Control Systems
Production control systems don’t merely look at the route of raw materials to retail, it also features the role of the customer order when manufacturing products. That will lead to determining what is the best method for planning and controlling the various aspects of manufacturing. This includes procurement and supplier coordination, resource scheduling, planning and execution. Process and quality control are also involved. These are the more common types.
Make to Stock (MTS)
This is where products are made in anticipation of demand from customers. The finished product is stocked in inventory and customer orders are fulfilled off the shelf. The advantage is that delivery is immediate and costs are low, which grows the business. Products tend to be standard and production lines are dedicated to producing large volumes.
Make to Order (MTO)
Products for these systems are made to specifications that are provided by customers. Production doesn’t begin until receipt of the customer order. Variety is limited by the type and capability of processes and production tends to be small.
Engineer to Order (ETO)
Here, the product is designed and engineered according to customer specifications before it’s manufactured. These are very customized and complex products. The variety of the finished product is limited and many manufacturing processes are employed in small, medium and large products that go to industries such as refineries, chemical and power plants, automotive, buildings and more.
Assemble to Order (ATO)
Manufacturers stock sub-assembly parts in this system only assembling the parts into the final product when a customer places an order. Companies must be able to assemble and deliver products quickly.
Production Control Software
Being able to plan, schedule and track all these various processes and resources is why there is production control software, which helps to deliver quality products on time. It’s a type of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software used by manufacturers to manage the production of their goods. It helps track, manage and organize production monitoring and control.
ProjectManager Helps With Production Control
ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps production controllers manage schedules and resources to run more efficiently. Our tool delivers real-time data to capture what’s happening on the production line as it occurs, not hours or days later. We also have custom and automated workflows to streamline processes with task approval settings that give authority to managers to review before moving tasks forward to ensure quality. But that’s only some of the features we offer.
Manage Production Schedule on Gantt Charts
Being able to monitor the schedule is key to keeping production on track. Our robust Gantt charts organize tasks and link all four dependencies so you can avoid bottlenecks. When you set a baseline you can then track the planned schedule against your actual schedule in real time to monitor your progress and keep production on schedule. Gantt charts also manage all your resources and costs in one place.
Labor is your most important resource and being able to track it depends on many factors. First, we let you onboard your employees and define their availability, including PTO, vacations and global holidays. That makes it easier to assign them work. Next, you want to make sure everyone is working at capacity. Our color-coded workload chart allows you to see at a glance who is overallocated. Then you can balance the workload right from the chart and keep everyone working more productively.
ProjectManger also has secure timesheets that do more than streamline payroll. They’re another avenue to track the time employees spend on tasks to further control the production schedule. There are also customizable reporting features that are easy to generate and filter to show only the data you want to see. Produce reports on costs, time, timesheets, variance workload, status and portfolio reports, too. Reports can be shared in various formats to keep stakeholders updated
ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps production controllers schedule, manage and track production in real time. Task management, risk management and resource management give them the tools they need to succeed at their jobs and deliver faster, better products to meet customer demand and resource availability. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.