Production planning: How to optimise processes

If you suspect that you have problems with your production planning, at least you are not alone. This won’t put your mind at ease, but there are proven steps you can take to significantly improve the quality of your production planning.

As in many cases, production planning does not stand alone in the world. It depends significantly on sales planning and material availability. Is this a reason to come to the defence of the production planners? No. But it is a reason to question the quality of the exchange between production planning, sales planning and the procurement of materials, components and services. Is production planning getting the information it needs? Do your sales planners even know what information helps the production planning team? Does purchasing know what availability is required for production planning and what information production planning really needs? Does production planning point out critical relationships to purchasing? How is this provided for in your process descriptions? The processes in the company are highly networked in a complex manner.

Precisely because of all the ongoing planning, the world naturally keeps on turning. Changed framework conditions from sales should be reflected in production planning, but they must not lead to nervousness in order execution. For this reason, it has proven effective to provide a rolling “frozen window” of perhaps two or three weeks in production planning, which must be respected by the sales department. Changes would not be incorporated until the period after the frozen window expires. This discipline can avoid changeover processes, make better use of capacity, limit procurement costs and, on balance, deliver more customer orders on time, not to mention the fact everyone’s motivation improves.


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