Production Management: Planning and Scheduling for Manufacturers

5 min
Production manager using his laptop to manage and schedule his productions

Developing, designing, and marketing a product is only half the battle. The other half is physically bringing it to market. To accomplish that, you need a solid phase of production planning. 

What is production planning?

Production planning is the process of defining and optimizing your manufacturing strategy. Every physical product requires specific materials to be built and equipment, finances, and workers to convert those materials into the final product. 

The goal of production planning is to optimize your manufacturing process as much as possible. Optimizing the process helps you meet deadlines, keep costs low, and prevent shortages or surpluses in your supply chain. 

As you’ve likely noted, nearly every business already has some form of production planning in place. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a product to ship. However, not every company has reevaluated its production planning strategy or adopted the latest methodologies and workflows.

Why is production planning important?

Production planning is essential to optimizing your manufacturing process, from sourcing the raw materials, setting the budget, and ensuring that your supply chain can meet your production deadlines. 

Without production planning, it becomes far more likely that your company will fail to meet the needs of your customers and organization. It can help you not only reduce your production cycle timeline but execute that timeline with greater predictability. 

Additionally, production planning is critical to scaling successfully. Scaling up brings as much anxiety as it does opportunities. If you fail to implement proper production planning, you’ll likely fall short when faced with larger and more complex manufacturing demands. 

The production planning process

A well-thought-out process is essential when refining your production planning. Below are the four stages of the production planning process. 

Production planning

The first stage of production planning is, coincidentally, production planning. During this first stage, you’re going to account for every aspect of your manufacturing and supply chain. 

This involves raw materials, staff, workplaces or stations, processes, supplies, and machinery/facilities. If you’re new to production management, contacting potential vendors can be a good stand-in to get the ball rolling. 

Once you’ve accounted for all of the resources, labor, and equipment that will be a part of your supply and manufacturing chains, you’ll want to put systems in place for tracking these resources. This will involve monitoring each resource and understanding how these systems depend and feed into one another. 


The second phase of production planning is routing. In the context of production planning, routing refers to the movement of products and materials through your manufacturing process. It generally doesn’t include the routing of customer-ready products to your inventory or customers. 

During this stage, you’ll work to understand and map the journey each of your raw materials and products takes through your supply chain and work centers. If two or more products or materials follow the same route, you can group them together. 

The goal of effective routing is to optimize the journey these products and materials take. That means moving them through the supply chain as quickly as possible while keeping costs as low as possible. 


Next comes scheduling. Just like it sounds, scheduling is the phase of production planning where you time your production cycle. How long does each production cycle take, and how many products are produced at the end of that cycle?

Once you know this, you will be able to not only keep a consistent product inventory but meet the demands of large orders with confidence. The scheduling phase usually involves creating a Master Production Schedule as well. This schedule should orchestrate the timing and movement of your products and materials so that everything neatly lines up. It’ll also account for deadlines and ensure that your production process can meet those deadlines. 


The last phase of production planning is execution. Once again, this is just what it sounds like: During this stage, you’re going to start taking in and issuing orders so that your production process can begin. 

To work out as smoothly as you’ve planned, you need to be sure that your work centers and suppliers are working in harmony. Most likely, you won’t be able to force them to work in harmony. It’s up to you to place orders at the correct times so that things line up accordingly. 

Execution will also include a degree of oversight. You’ll watch your production process to check that it’s moving as you anticipated, that there are no unexpected shortages, and that you will meet deadlines. 

Types of production planning

So far, we’ve covered production planning with broad strokes. But of course, every business and sector will have unique manufacturing needs that change how your production planning will look. Likewise, production planning can be divided and tweaked based on which part of the production process you’re focusing on. 

Below is a breakdown of the types of production planning you’re most likely to use. 

Master production schedule

A master production schedule (MPS) is a single document that covers the schedule for a specific product produced by your manufacturing process. This schedule encompasses the four phases of production planning we just covered. You can think of it as a central document that you and anyone involved with your manufacturing process can turn to for guidance. 

Although you can create a master production schedule by hand, they are most often created by software these days. It’s a good idea to use software to create your MPS because manufacturing processes have become more complex over the last few decades. Even if you use software to generate an MPS, it’s a good idea to check it over and tweak it to make sure everything is accurate.

Material requirements planning

Another type of production planning is material requirements planning or MRP. This type of production planning focuses on accounting for the various materials you’ll need to manufacture a product. 

MRP doesn’t end at accounting for materials, however. You’ll also want to optimize your material needs as far as possible. That includes reducing the materials needed to manufacture a product, noting the availability of materials, and keeping product levels in your inventory as low as possible.

Capacity planning

Capacity planning is the type of production planning that’s most closely associated with scalability. In this type of planning, you’ll work to get an accurate idea of production capabilities — especially when faced with dynamic product and material demands. 

You can think of this as “budgeting” for your production capabilities. You want to know the maximum amount of a product you manufacture in a production cycle (considering work center power along with resource availability). Then the minimum you need to produce to meet average product demands. Ideally, you want some headroom, so you aren’t making excess unless circumstances require it. 

Workflow planning

Workflow planning is where you’ll map out the operations that a team or individual team member needs to complete while manufacturing a product. This includes timing and cost. To plan a workflow, break a process down into a series of tasks, determine the average time to complete each task, account for dependencies, and start creating your workflow map. 

Enterprise resources planning

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a high-level type of production planning that ties all of your business’s operations into a single, overarching schema. Given how complex this can be, especially for large enterprises, software is nearly always used to accomplish this type of planning. 

Sales and operations planning

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is where your production planning and marketing strategies come together. Your production planning should match current market demands, trends, and approaches. For that to happen, your business’s production planning and marketing departments should be informing each other’s actions. 

What to keep in mind during production planning and scheduling

Crew management

One of the critical things to keep in mind during production planning is your crew. They will play a key role in keeping your production cycle optimized and on track. Ensure that you’re maximizing each crew member’s strengths and setting them up to succeed. 

Raw materials

In many ways, raw materials are the backbone of your production planning. You need to be acutely aware of how much of each raw material you need, how much is available, and when disruptions to material supplies might occur. 


Logistics encompasses the movement of materials and products through your production process. Logistics also deals with the layouts and flows of your workshops themselves. Optimizing these flows on a micro-level can result in significant gains on the macro-level. 

Use the right technology to stay organized

The core to effective production planning is starting with the right tools. Production cycles and supply chains are complex, global, and highly dependent on the marketplace as a whole. Using a powerful, intelligent software solution to create an accurate view of your production planning, resources, and labor needs is essential. 

Request a demo with Brahmin Solutions today and let us help you take control of your production planning.

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