Oakfield Software

Three Production Planning Disasters, and How to Avoid Them

Three Production Planning Disasters, and How to Avoid Them

As companies attempt to gain efficiencies from manufacturing with the use of new technology, so the necessity of fine balancing resources becomes ever more complex and critical.

As processes grow in intricacy, so the management of them needs to adapt, yet some organisations still steadfastly refuse to update their processes to cope, instead sticking with outdated systems or even modern systems that just aren’t suited to the job.

For a production planner, this can be a disaster, but it’s not the only disaster that can befall them. Keeping plans on track is difficult, and here are some of the most common pitfalls.

Overused Resources

A common problem with many resource allocation systems is that they don’t understand over-use. By this, I mean where a resource is used beyond its capacity. This can be a piece of machinery that eventually breaks down, or a person, who is pushed to exhaustion.

But why would this happen?

Let’s take a real-life example.

In a company I was consulting for, they had a number of engineers working on a production line that was prone to breakdown. Their production planning system was old and outdated, but it did have certain statistics, one of which was an efficiency rating.

One of the engineers was incredibly efficient. He was by far the most qualified and experienced person there, and he could repair things faster than anyone else.

Because of this, he was used more often than anyone else. He also has the most sickness than anyone else, but this wasn’t shown in the system. Because he was used all the time, he was often exhausted, but his absence wasn’t part of the efficiency figure.

Overusing a resource can lead to huge problems, and so it’s important your system is all-in-one and can highlight when someone (or something) is being used too often, before it’s pushed to breaking point.

Disparate spreadsheets or databases

As alluded to above, if your systems aren’t talking to each other, then data that relates to your issues may go missing, leading to problems building up and eventually a loss of efficiency.

Although the dream of many organisations is to have an all-encompassing management system that brings together every aspect of the company, in reality, this very rarely happens. Instead, there’s a core system that handles most things (accounts, sales, HR etc.) and then departments try to bolt on inappropriate systems, that simply can’t cope.

Lack of systems

Systems are the backbone of any production floor.

It’s simply not acceptable to have the entire knowledge of sections of the manufacturing process to be held in the minds of individuals.

Harking back to the days when TQM was introduced, the plan was to systemise, document and make available every process in a company. The idea was that if anyone were to be placed into a role, they could perform that role, assuming they had the requisite skills.

Far from de-skilling, this freed up resources and allowed people to move on to more creative uses of their skills, usually leading to increased efficiency and lower costs.

However, some people resist systematisation, believing it’s taking their jobs away.

Today, production planners have a whole range of systems available that will enable them to perform their job efficiently, with reduced costs and more accurate reporting.

With increased competition coming from all over the world, investing in a solid scheduling and planning package can reap the rewards.

Originally published here: