Production planning and control is one of the most important phases of production management, it is, as a matter of fact, the nervous system of a manufacturing organization. In manufacturing organization, it is essential that production is carried on in the best manner at the lowest cost, and the goods are of right quality and are produced at the proper time. This can be ensured only through proper planning of production. but mere planning of production will not solve the problem because production plans are not capable of self-actuating and do not lead to automatic accomplishment. For that the production manager has to take certain steps like, he has to regulate work assignment, review the work progress, and devise methods to bring conformity between the actual performance and planned performance – so that plans chalked out are adhered to and the standards set at the planning stage are properly attained and improved. This is the function of production control. Production control, therefore, is a directive function which involves the coordination and integration of operations and activities of different factors of production with a view to optimizing efficiency. Optimum efficiency is attainable by proper planning of work, laying down of exact routes which operations shall follow, correct fixing of time-table within which productive operations shall start and come to a close, uninterrupted releasing of orders and work facilities, and timely initiation of appropriate follow-up steps to ensure smooth functioning of the enterprise. In other words, production control involves planning, routing, scheduling, dispatching and follow-up.
Steps in Production Planning and Control
The first important step in production planning and control is concerned with the careful preparation of production plans. Production plans determine what will be produced and where, at what type, by whom, and how. For detailed planning of operations, the relevant information may be obtained from several sources in the enterprise. Information about quantity and quality of products to be manufactured may be obtained from customers orders and the sales budget, and information about production facilities may be obtained from the management and the engineering department. Thus, the planning function formulates production plans, and translates them into requirements for men, machinery and materials.
Whatever be the planning period, production planning helps in avoiding randomness in production, providing regular and steady flow of production activities, utilizing production facilities to its maximum for minimizing operating costs and meeting delivery schedules; coordinating various departments of the enterprise for maintaining proper balance of activities, and above all, providing the basis for control in the enterprise.
The next important function of production planning and control is routing which involves the determination of the path (i.e. route) of movement of raw materials through various machines and operations in the factory. “Routing includes the planning of where and by whom work shall be done, the determination of the path that work shall follow, and the necessary sequence of operations”. To find this path, emphasis is placed on determining operating data, which usually includes planning of ‘where’ and ‘by whom’ work should be done, the determinations of the path that work shall follow, and the necessary sequence of operations. These operating data are contained in the standard process sheet which helps in making out a routing in the standard process sheet which helps in making out a routing chart showing the sequence of operations and the machines to be used. If the machine loan chart indicates the non-availability of certain machines, alternate routing may also be included on the routing chart. The most efficient routing may have to be compromised with the availability of the machines at a particular time. In other words, “routing establishes the operations, their path and sequence, and the proper class of machines and personnel required for these operations.”
From the above, it can be inferred that routing is one of the highly essential elements and prime considerations of production control because many production control functions are closely related processes and are dependent on routing functions. Thus, it is essential to solve the different problems concerning: appropriate personnel; full utilization of machines; and determining with precise degree the time required in the production process.
Scheduling is planning the time element of production – i.e. prior determination of “when work is to be done”. It consists of the starting and completion times for the various operations to be performed. In other words, scheduling function determines when an operation is to be performed, or when work is to be completed, the difference lies in the details of the scheduling procedure. To work out effectively, the scheduling, as a part of production control function, determines the time when each operation called for on the route sheet is to be done on the specified machine in order to meet the desired delivery dates. Good control function directs not only the time that each particular operation should start but also indicates the progress of each manufacturing part, the amount of work ahead of each machine, and the availability of each machine for the assignment of new work.
Schedules are of two types: Master schedule and Detailed schedule. Activities, if recorded on plant-wise basis, would be preparing master schedule, while mere detailed schedules are employed to plan the manufacturing and assembly operations required for each product.
Dispatching is the part of production control that translates the paper – work into actual production. It is the group that coordinates and translates planning into actual production. Dispatching function proceeds in accordance with the details worked out under routing and scheduling functions. As such, dispatching sees to it that the material is moved to the correct work place, that tools are ready at the correct place for the particular operations, that the work is moving according to routing instructions. Dispatching carries out the physical work as suggested by scheduling. Thus, dispatching implies the issuance or work orders. These work orders represent authority to produce. These orders contain the following information:
- The name of the product;
- The name of the part to be produced, sub-assembly or final assembly;
- The order number;
- The quantity to be produced;
- Descriptions and numbers of the operations required and their sequence,
- The departments involved in each operation
- The tools required for particular operation; and
- Machines involved in each operation and starting dates for the operations.
Expedition or follow-up is the last stage in the process of production control. This function is designed to keep track of the work effort. The aim is to ensure that what is intended and planned is being implemented. “Expediting consists in reporting production data and investigating variances from predetermined time schedules. The main idea behind expedition is to see that promise is backed up by performance”. It includes the following functions:
- Check-up to ensure that all materials, tools, component parts, and accessories are available at all work centers in specified quantities for starting and carrying out manufacturing operations.
- Check-up on the status of work-in-progress and completed work at various work stations. This includes collecting information relating to the starting and completion time and date of work completed, status of work-in-progress relative to scheduled completion dates, position of movements of materials, component parts, and sub-assemblies within the plant, and inspection results.
- Preparation of progress records and keeping the control boards up-to-date.
- Reporting to manufacturing management on all significant deviations so that corrective action may be taken. It also includes reporting to production planning department so that future plans may be adjusted.
Thus production planning and control by completing the above discussed phases ensures the manufacturing of goods of right quality, quantity and at competitive market rates. One thing must be borne in mind that production planning and control is a never-ending process, and its various functions are inter-dependent.