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Production Planning & Scheduling

Production Planning vs. Scheduling: Understanding The Key Differences


In manufacturing, production planning and scheduling are two essential concepts that play a critical role in achieving operational efficiency, reducing costs, and meeting customer demands. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent two distinct stages of the manufacturing process. In this post, we'll take a closer look at the key differences between production planning and scheduling, and how they work together to optimize manufacturing operations.



Planning vs Scheduling-2



Help, the schedule does not run as planned



What is Production Planning?

Production planning is the process of creating a comprehensive roadmap that guides the manufacturing process from start to finish, from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of finished products. It involves determining what products to make, how much to produce, and when to produce them. Key elements of production planning include capacity planning, Material Requirements Planning (MRP) and resource allocation.


👉Capacity planning involves forecasting the demand for products and services and ensuring that the necessary resources, including machinery, labor, and equipment, are available to meet that demand.


👉 Material Requirements Planning (MRP) involves determining the necessary raw materials and components needed to fulfill a specific production plan and ensuring that they are available in the right quantities and at the right time. It relies on data such as bill of materials, inventory levels and lead times to calculate the material requirements.


👉Resource planning involves assigning resources to specific tasks and activities based on their availability and suitability.



What is Production Scheduling?

Production scheduling, on the other hand, is the process of creating a detailed execution plan to ensure the efficient use of resources and timely delivery of products. It involves managing and coordinating resources such as equipment, materials, and labor to meet production goals.


👉Sequencing is a critical component of production scheduling, which involves determining the order of production operations to optimize the manufacturing process, given dependencies and changeover constraints.


👉Resource allocation is another important aspect of production scheduling. This involves determining which resources are required to complete a production job and assigning them accordingly. Resource allocation helps to ensure that production runs smoothly and that resources are used effectively.


👉Prioritization is also a key element of production scheduling. It involves deciding which jobs or tasks to prioritize based on factors such as customer demand, order size, and production deadlines. Prioritization helps to ensure that critical tasks are completed first and that production is optimized to meet business goals.


👉Monitoring is the final component of production scheduling. It involves tracking the progress of the production process and adjusting as needed. For example, if a particular task is taking longer than expected, adjustments can be made to the production schedule to ensure that deadlines are still met. Monitoring helps to ensure that production runs smoothly and that any issues are addressed promptly.



Key Differences between Production Planning & Scheduling?

While production planning and scheduling are interrelated, they represent two distinct stages of the manufacturing process. The main differences between the two include their scope, time horizon, and level of detail. Production planning is a more strategic process that focuses on long-term goals, while scheduling is a more tactical process that focuses on short-term execution to meet the goals set by production planning.


To illustrate the difference between production planning and scheduling, let's consider the example of a dairy factory that produces cheese and butter.


In this scenario, production planning would involve determining the quantities of milk and other raw materials needed to meet the demand for cheese and butter over a specific period, such as a week or a month. The production planner would need to consider factors such as the availability of milk from suppliers, the processing capacity of the factory and the market demand for cheese and butter. They would use this information to create a production plan that outlines realistic quantities of each product group to be produced, the processing steps required, and the timeline for each stage of production.


On the other hand, production scheduling would involve determining the exact sequence and timing of each production step required to turn the raw materials into finished cheese and butter products on a more granular level, such as a day or a week. For example, the scheduler would need to determine when to pasteurize the milk, when to add the cultures and enzymes, when to cut the curd, and when to package and label the finished products. They would need to consider factors such as the availability of processing equipment and personnel, the optimal processing temperature and humidity, and the desired product quality and consistency. The scheduler would use this information to create a detailed production schedule that outlines the specific times and durations of each processing step.


The Role of Supply Chain Planning Software.

Planning in Excel has been the standard for a long time. Nowadays supply chain planning software is an indispensable tool that can help manufacturers to optimize their production planning and scheduling processes. Some of the key features of supply chain planning software include demand planning, capacity planning, materials requirement planning and inventory management next to production planning & scheduling. Some tools also provide real-time information on the status of work orders, materials availability, and machine utilization.


It's important to note that not all manufacturing planning software tools are created equal. Some software tools, like Kinaxis, 09 solutions or SAP, focus on a broad range of supply chain functions, but usually come with a large implementation cost. Other tools like Garvis (demand planning) or Checkmate (production planning & scheduling) are more light-weighted to set up, yet highly effective to deal with specific planning functions.


Let's wrap up.

Production planning and scheduling are two critical components of manufacturing operations that require a clear understanding of their unique roles and differences. Effective production planning can help manufacturers to set the stage for success in the long run, while production scheduling can help to ensure that operations run smoothly and efficiently on the short term. By leveraging the power of supply chain planning software, manufacturers can optimize their operations and achieve better results.


Comparison Point Production Planning Production Scheduling
Scope Strategic and tactical Tactical and operational
Time Horizon Long-term Short-term
Level of Detail High-level Detailed and granular
Objective Optimize capacity, resources, and materials Maximize throughput, minimize bottlenecks and delays
Key Considerations Forecasting, capacity planning, material planning, resource planning Sequencing, prioritization, monitoring, lead time optimization
Output Production plan Production schedule
Software Support and Tools Supply Chain Planning Software, Sales & Operations Planning, MRP, MRP II Finite Capacity Scheduling, Advanced Planning and Scheduling, Job Shop Scheduling, Gantt Charts


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Thomas Meersseman
by Thomas Meersseman

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