For many companies, reliable manufacturing process planning is a major challenge despite extensive digitization. With apps, you can optimize your production planning and achieve more revenue in the long run.

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    What does manufacturing process planning mean?

    Together with production control, manufacturing process planning is the core of every industrial company. Production planning is the systematic advance planning of medium and short-term operations for the purpose of product creation, taking into account economic and social goals.

    Manufacturing process planning includes the planning of:

    • Primary requirements (goods in demand on the market)
    • Secondary requirements (raw materials, individual parts, assemblies)
    • The production process or the production execution

    According to Gutenberg, production planning can be divided into three fields: production program planning, material requirements planning and manufacturing process planning.

    In production program planning, it is determined which products will be produced at what times and in which quantities. Material requirement planning calculates how many units of measure for dependent requirements are needed to cover the primary requirements. Manufacturing process planning includes lot-size planning, scheduling and capacity planning as well as sequencing and detailed scheduling.

    Production planning is followed by production control. As part of this, all orders required for production are controlled, released and monitored until production is completed. Both areas are interrelated and are therefore often combined into one area of responsibility – production planning and control (PPC) – for smaller and medium-sized companies. The aim of PPC is to ensure that production processes run smoothly and efficiently.

    Push and pull principle of production planning

    A distinction is made between two principles in production planning and control. In the push principle, production sequences are determined on the basis of forecasts for demand quantities. Accordingly, production orders are pushed into production even if no sales orders are available.

    In the pull principle, production processes are only triggered by a specific customer order. It is used, for example, with just-in-sequence and just-in-time production. Just-in-time (JIT) is a delivery concept in which goods are delivered in exactly the right quantity and at the time they are needed for production. The just-in-sequence (JIS) principle also considers the order in which components are processed in assembly.

    Frequently, both the push and the pull principle are applied in manufacturing companies, since a conversion purely for the pull principle is not worthwhile for all production lines.

    Tasks in manufacturing process planning

    As a production planner, you have the central task of achieving maximum utilization of your production resources through perfectly coordinated use of all available resources. In doing so, costs should be minimized and at the same time all quality requirements should be met.

    The subtasks of a production planner includes:

    • Planning of material, machinery as well as personnel deployment
    • Purchasing and procurement planning
    • Determination of requirements for machines and equipment
    • Lot size planning
    • Scheduling and capacity planning
    • Securing the flow of materials
    • Optimization of inventories
    • Planning and optimization of existing production processes and workflows
    • Development of new production processes
    • Quality assurance
    • Economic feasibility studies
    • Documentation of work results
    • Examination of responsibilities

    Prerequisites for successful production planning

    If you, as a production planner, are pushing for the introduction and implementation of a well thought-out production plan, you generally need to know the interrelationships in production. To be able to assess the time, materials and personnel requirements, you need technical expertise and business knowledge. You also need to know the equipment being used.

    In addition to the technical requirements, several personal skills are also important:

    • Analytical thinking
    • Communication and leadership skills
    • Assertiveness
    • Structured way of working

    Advantages of PPC

    Production planning and control (PPC) represents an elementary support function for every manufacturing company. Optimal production planning enables continuous improvement of the production system. Other advantages that arise are:

    • Flexibility to move production quickly
    • Shorter time to market for new products
    • Higher production efficiency
    • Assurance of product and process quality
    • Assurance of on-time delivery
    • Consistent quality across multiple production lines or facilities
    • Rapid response to changes at any stage of the design and manufacturing process
    • Permanent reduction of operating costs
    • Continuous utilization of existing resources and capacities
    • Efficient collaboration between engineers, designers and production staff
    • Workplace safety and ergonomics

    What is a production plan and what does it include?

    A production plan is a comprehensive document that covers all aspects of manufacturing a product. A production plan should answer the following questions:

    1. Where are the raw materials sourced from?
    2. What are the costs of materials and processes associated with manufacturing?
    3. How many employees are needed to operate the machines used?
    4. What transportation times must be planned for?
    5. How long do the steps required to produce the final product take?
    6. How long does it take to deliver the finished product to the customer?
    7. How can I shorten production time and reduce production costs without compromising the quality of the final product?

    Manufacturing process planning with Excel

    Spreadsheet applications such as Excel are often the first choice for small and medium-sized companies as a production planning tool. Reasons for this include the ability to automate calculations and create visual representations of data. Excel provides a workable overview of production capacity through the time-based allocation of production orders. In addition, Excel is inexpensive and the necessary know-how to use it is already known in many companies.

    However, the use of Excel also brings with it some disadvantages. We compare the most important advantages and disadvantages:

    Advantages

    • Inexpensive, free templates
    • Little training required
    • Widely available instructions
    • Cloud-based access and thus availability for multiple users

    Disadvantages

    • Susceptibility to human error
    • Time-consuming data entries
    • Not intuitive to use
    • Offline version complicates collaboration

    The alternative: manufacturing process planning via smart apps

    As an alternative to an Excel spreadsheet, your manufacturing process planning can also be done via smart apps. Unlike spreadsheets, an app is dynamic, intuitive and easy to use. You can automate your data entries and save an enormous amount of time. Thanks to the high level of automation, human errors are also minimized, making your data more accurate and reliable. Apps give you the opportunity to monitor processes in real time, allowing you to react immediately to undesirable events. In addition, switching to modern app technology can help increase employee productivity. Production planning apps also enable close collaboration between engineering, manufacturing and execution.

    The benefits of apps at a glance:

    • Cost-effective to purchase
    • Fast training of production employees
    • Easy to use thanks to intuitive interface
    • Optimization and transparency in production planning
    • High user acceptance
    • Clear visualization of projects and resources
    • Overview of utilization of employees and resources
    • All users have access to information they need
    • More transparency
    • Projects can be edited by multiple users

    Have the benefits of apps convinced you, but you shy away from high development costs? Open as App has the solution!

    With our no-code platform, you can take the creation of an app into your own hands – without any programming skills. Simply upload your existing spreadsheet from Excel or Google Sheets, our App Creator will then take all the calculations and logic and provide them to you in your individual app. With just a few clicks, you can design the app according to your ideas and adapt it to your brand. The first prototype of your own manufacturing process planning app is ready in just a few minutes.

    With Open as App, you even have the option of creating a first version for free. Try it out today.

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