Accurate production planning and scheduling is critical for a company to reduce changeover time between production cycles, minimize wasted materials and run effective manufacturing practices. Additionally, the data that can be mined from past manufacturing cycles is incredibly valuable. Historical data allows you to better forecast lead times, develop a consistent and accurate purchasing calendar, guide your sales team with better inventory information, improve your maintenance scheduling and address issues before they start cutting into profits.

Clearly, production planning and scheduling is a key aspect of any food company’s operations. Below, we highlight some processes and tools that leading food companies make sure of to better manage their manufacturing processes to keep their costs low and increase profit margins.

Master Production Schedule Planning

Master Production Schedule (MPS) is what food manufacturers use to plan for all the material, labor and equipment they need for production. You may currently be running individual plans that handle different aspects of the production processes, but it is the MPS plan that brings all of those aspects together. Because the MPS covers so much, it may not been as granular in scope as your individual plans and schedules. The goal of the MPS is to use the various points of production to help guide future business decisions. Those decisions can include when production cycles are scheduled, the size of the team required, what positions need to be filled along with a number of areas outside of production including purchasing, inventory and sales. In order to set up an effective MPS schedule, you need to have accurate data from your purchasing, inventory and sales team. Once completed, an MPS can be referenced by all departments, informing planned production yield so that future purchasing orders can be planned accordingly and sales knows how much finished product they can work with.

Batch Management

Once your materials are in the warehouse, being able to tell how and when they should be used is of the utmost importance. This is where batch management comes in. Batch management is what controls how your various materials are used throughout production. Taking into account factors like expiry date, allergen segregation and recipe requirements, you individually assign materials to a specific batch. This creates a guide to your materials and production schedules, dictating which materials should be used when and the completion times for various products.Batch management reduces the risk of wasted materials, keeps potential harmful materials segregated and helps production run on time.

Capacity and Bottleneck Management

Being able to identify and take action against bottleneck and capacity issues is a major advantage for your production team. Bottlenecks can have effect every aspect of a business, short term issues leading to extended wait times and accumulation and, in the long term,  culminating in wasted materials and unfulfilled orders. By setting up an auditing process and check ins that can detect bottlenecks as they happen, you are able to step in and fix the problem is real time. These checks include alerting the team if there is overflow, if the wait times are going over their pre allotted amount of time and throughput of a machine is not meeting the specifications it is meant to. By setting up capacity and bottleneck checks, you are able to reduce the risks of stoppage and empower your manufacturing team to get ahead of problems before they arise.  

If you are interested in learning more about how you can improve your manufacturing processes, check out our ERP beginners’ guide for food manufacturers. In our beginners’ guide, we highlight the various areas that can be integrated into an ERP system and how that software can help streamline processes and keep costs low. This is especially true of manufacturing, where we cover things like production scheduling and planning, bill of materials support and consumption and output analysis. Check out the guide here.