As an industrial production manager, you're responsible for coordinating operations in a manufacturing plant. Your role is to balance quality, costs and production efficiency while meeting customers’ delivery schedules. To achieve that, you need to make the most productive use of employees and equipment by investing in both training and automation. You'll work closely with colleagues in production engineering, quality control, supply chain management and distribution to ensure a smooth transition from suppliers to final customers.
A production manager plans production schedules to fulfill customers’ orders in line with the delivery dates agreed to by the sales team. You may also plan schedules to manufacture products for inventory, rather than for immediate delivery. To ensure you can complete production on schedule, you work closely with purchasing managers or supply chain managers to coordinate delivery of materials, components and supplies needed to complete orders.
To manufacture products efficiently, you allocate the right resources and people to each job. If you run a number of different production lines, you select the facilities most suitable for the job. For a high-volume run of low-value products, you might choose an automated production line staffed by operators who monitor the process. If you have orders for high-precision engineering products, you would produce those on specialized machine tools operated by skilled personnel.
Production managers recruit, train and manage a team of operators, production assistants, supervisors and inspectors. You maintain team numbers in line with production requirements, using overtime to cover peak periods or urgent deliveries. To maintain a safe working environment, you must ensure that your operations comply with health and safety regulations.
Quality control is an important aspect of the job. In a large manufacturing company, you may work with a quality manager and a team of quality control inspectors who provide you with reports on quality issues on the production line. In a smaller company, you might take responsibility for quality. The production manager or members of the quality team establish quality standards based on industry standards, such as ISO 9000, or standards required by customers. You ensure that operators comply with quality policies and procedures, and investigate any problems raised by inspectors so remedial action can be taken.
To help the company competitive, you take responsibility for controlling costs. You establish standard operating procedures for all manufacturing processes and monitor the time that operators take to complete their work. Where necessary, you organize training to improve operator productivity, and monitor quality to identify opportunities that will reduce the cost of waste or reworking.
Production managers carry out regular reviews of production performance to identify quality issues or bottlenecks in the production process that affect productivity or cause delivery delays. You work with production engineers and training specialists to develop solutions to improve performance. You might decide to rearrange production lines, invest in new equipment or develop training programs for operators.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.