Manufacturing Process Planning

Manufacturing is complicated. It is complicated because most manufacturing is not single stage – it involves multiple manufacturing processes. For example to manufacture Electronic devices, there would be processes like Moulding, SMT, Assembly. Each of these processes would have their nuances. These nuances would be in terms of tools, process parameters, inspection reports, cycle time, operator skills etc. It requires a high degree of skills and expertise to manufacture anything. No matter how much robotics and automation are involved, there is still a high degree of uncertainty and challenges. 

The planning of Manufacturing Processes on the shopfloor is called Manufacturing Process Planning. It involves the following:

  • List the finished products that would be produced
  • Defining the routing of these finished products – some would go through 3 process in a particular sequence and some would take longer in a different sequence 
  • Defining the Bill of Material of each item. There are different types of Bill of Materials. To manage manufacturing processes, it is important to get Manufacturing BOM (in addition to Engineering, Purchase BOM)  
  • Defining the Cycle time of each processes 
  • Defining the capacity of different manufacturing processes in the factory 


Why is Manufacturing Process Planning important?


It is the dream of a plant manager to manage her plant in a clockwork manner. Everything should be well sorted. Each section head should know what is coming her way, what has been completed and how much was the productivity of each shift. 


In reality, in most manufacturing plants, it is chaos on the shopfloor. The chaos is because of poor Manufacturing Process Planning. So let us understand why Manufacturing Process Planning is important:


  1. To give overall visibility to the plant manager, supply chain managers, sales representatives: When will a particular order get completed. Where is the order stuck? Such questions need to be answered in a timely and efficient manner to bring accountability in the organisation. Manufacturing Process Planning would give visibility into the entire operation processes.
  2. To make life of supervisors and operators easy: For the supervisor to perform efficiently, she should know exactly what jobs with their specifications are lined up. She would be able to delegate the work among operators, plan each machine with its sequence, manage change over timings etc. 
  3. To deliver goods on time to customers: Proper execution of manufacturing is dependent on Manufacturing Process planning. If planning is not done properly, then it would lead to confusion, wrong prioritisation and missed deliveries
  4. To bring continuous improvement in Manufacturing Processes: Once a Manufacturing Process plan is made, then it needs to be analyzed 


Why is Manufacturing Process Planning so complex?


When the number of data points to be recorded becomes large or when the data points become multi dimensional, then it is best that software is deployed to solve the problem. Manufacturing Process Planning is such an example where the processes are so complex that it takes a fair amount of time to manage it properly. 


Suppose a company manufactures 1000 different finished goods. These finished products go through 10 different routings. Each routing has 5 different or same processes. There are 100s of sales orders from 10 different customers and each sales order has 10 different finished products requirements. 


Now as Production Planning & Control manager or factory manager, you are required to plan different manufacturing processes in an efficient manner. It should lead to timely delivery of orders, efficiency of machines, good OEE, low wastages and scrap. 


Many manufacturers try to solve this problem by using Excel and google sheets, however very quickly it becomes difficult to manage and leads to issues in the planning process. 


Softwares to solve Manufacturing Process Planning in a factory


Any software that solves Manufacturing Process Planning should have the following modules:


  1. Routing Module: To define sequence of processes and assign them to different category of items 
  2. Cycle time and Throughput rules: Define different combinations of Cycle time and throughput rules like On a Moulding Machine it takes 8 minutes to produce 1 item with 16x moulding process 
  3. Bill of Material module: Structure of the finished product and clearly defining the intermediate work in progress items along with the quantity 
  4. Production planning module: Plan different items across different machines along with the start time and end time 
  5. Production module to record production 
  6. Rejection module to record rejections 
  7. Dashboard with different types of analytics 


What are the different features that should be available in a software that is solving manufacturing process planning:

  1. It should be easy to use 
  2. It should be configurable and adapt to different needs of different types of manufacturing industries 
  3. It should be available on mobile as most supervisors would use the mobile device to view and make production entries 
  4. It should understand manufacturing and its different use cases 
  5. It should be scalable as a lot of data would go into the software 


Summary: Manufacturing Process Planning is key to running a factory. Most factory managers do it but few do it efficiently. As it is a complex process it would be advisable for factory managers to deploy a dedicated software that is scalable, easy to use and is specifically for manufacturing. ManufApp is one such software that is working with multiple manufacturing organizations to solve their manufacturing needs