Manufacturing Operations Management Explained

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Manufacturers have to do more than produce a product, they also have to manage their operations. If they can’t do that, then they won’t have a successful business. That’s why manufacturing operations management is so important—it keeps the lights on.

Of course, there’s more to manufacturing operations management than that. Before getting into the benefits of manufacturing operations management, let’s define what the term means and the areas that are under manufacturing operations management. Then, we’ll wrap up with how project management software can help with manufacturing operations management.

What Is Manufacturing Operations Management?

Manufacturing operations management is a method to control the structure and systems used by manufacturers when producing a product or its operations. This process goes beyond the mechanics of manufacturing, though that’s a crucial part of it, to include customer desires, the sourcing of raw materials and more.

Manufacturing operations management looks at each step in the manufacturing process, from design to delivery and inventory to ensure that operations run as efficiently as possible and costs are minimized. It aims to reduce waste, create better products and boost both customer satisfaction and company profits.

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Getting the most out of manufacturing operations management requires the collection and analysis of data, standardizing procedures to create efficiencies and making decisions based on key performance indicators (KPIs). This is all facilitated by the use of project management software.

ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that gives manufacturers real-time data to make more insightful decisions about their production. Live dashboards provide a high-level view of production across several KPIs including costs, time, workload and more. Unlike lightweight project management software, our dashboards don’t require users to waste time setting it up. Just toggle over whenever you want to see how production is running. Our real-time dashboards are ready when you are.

ProjectManager's dashboard
ProjectManager’s real-time dashboards monitor KPIs to better manage operations. Learn more

8 Areas of Manufacturing Operations

As noted, manufacturing operations are the processes and activities involved in turning raw materials into finished products. Naturally, there are many. To understand manufacturing operations management, one must first understand the key areas of manufacturing operations. Below we define those areas of manufacturing operations.

1. Supply Chain Management

The supply chain is a critical part of manufacturing operations. Managing all aspects of physical goods and their logistics includes inventory optimization, vendor management and logistical processes such as shipping, distribution and delivery. But it goes beyond this to include manufacturing processes such as work-in-progress (WIP), inventory management, production scheduling, capacity planning, demand forecasting and much more.

2. Resource Planning

Another aspect of manufacturing operations is resource planning, which is the manufacturing system by which resources such as raw materials, machinery and labor are planned to be where they’re needed when they’re needed. The goal of resource planning is to do this as efficiently as possible. Having precise production schedules helps do this as well as minimize costs and maximize the use of available resources.

3. Production Planning & Control

Production planning and control deals with the management of schedules, such as the allocation of resources, from labor to raw materials, work centers, machines and the whole production process. Again, the goal is efficiency by finding the best plan to produce the product with the lead time needed to meet the production demand. The control part involves monitoring the production and measuring the performance through reporting and other means. This allows managers to make sure the production is moving forward as scheduled and, if it’s not, reallocate resources to get it back on track.

4. Manufacturing Engineering

Manufacturing engineering refers to the application of industrial engineering tools and techniques to make sure the manufacturing of a product is as efficient as possible in terms of quality, timeliness and costs.

5. Quality Control

The production isn’t successful, regardless of meeting deadlines and cost constraints, if it doesn’t deliver on the expected quality. Therefore, the use of quality control in manufacturing operations inspects the product throughout its production. It tends to focus on what’s happening at the machine or assembly level so that it can catch, record and categorize defects to resolve them quickly and avoid repeating them later.

6. Maintenance

Production runs on many resources, including machinery, which must be in operating order or it can cause costly delays. Therefore, maintenance is another important aspect of manufacturing operations. Manufacturing maintenance touches all assets and equipment including parts inventory and safety procedures. Asset management includes maintenance and works towards optimizing the performance relative to output. This includes regular maintenance of machinery and equipment, but also risk management to anticipate issues and be ready to resolve them quickly.

7. Inventory Management

Another item that’s critical to running an uninterrupted production line is having sufficient inventory stocked. Inventory management is the planning and ordering process for the materials and components needed in production to create whatever product is being manufactured. It also deals with the storage of those materials and components, organizing the process to tracking stock to reorder before inventory gets too low to feed into production as scheduled. Documentation and reporting are part of this process.

8. Logistics Management

Manufacturing logistics is all about organizing and managing the transportation and storage of materials and finished products inside the manufacturing plant. This is a complex process involving many activities from moving the raw materials to the production lines, taking finished products to the warehouse and then shipping those goods to customers through various distribution channels.

Benefits of Manufacturing Operations Management

We’ve outlined the various disciplines that make up manufacturing operations. Manufacturing operations management is tasked with overseeing and controlling all of these many processes so they work together and deliver products in a timely manner to customers and create profit margins for the manufacturers. This allows them to stay in business, expand and so forth. Those are certainly benefits, but there are more.

Competitive Advantages

The most obvious benefit is that when done right, manufacturing operations management provides a competitive advantage for your company. In most cases, manufacturers aren’t the only company supplying a certain product to the marketplace. There are ways to differentiate the product, but if it’s basically the same as what the competitor offers, then companies must streamline their process to get enough efficiency so they can lower prices or get their product to market faster than the competition.

Increased Profitability

This, in turn, increases profitability for the company. Manufacturing operations management helps in that by running production smoothly the company can devote more time and resources to developing new ideas to help with sales or create new products. If you’re constantly putting out fires and playing catch-up with your operations, then there’s no time to focus on other areas that’ll help you expand sales and market share.

Waste Reduction

Another benefit is reducing waste in production. For example, manufacturing operations can help control inventory, which helps a company have in stock what it needs to respond to increased customer demand. It can also help reduce the storage space needed by improving the accuracy of one’s inventory. This reduces costs and makes the inventory process more efficient.

Improved Quality

Another benefit is the improvement of the quality of your products. As you increase the efficiency of your production with manufacturing operations management, including how you store materials, you’re minimizing damage to the finished product. That means fewer losses and more profits. The fewer defects, the greater the quality of the products you’re shipping to the market. Not to mention you’ll have more time to research and develop improvements to continue meeting customer needs.

Better Compliance

Then there are regulations. Manufacturing goods can often require complying with state and federal regulations, especially when producing food, beverages or pharmaceuticals. With manufacturing operations management, manufacturers have department heads taking responsibility to ensure their tasks are done lawfully. This not only makes companies compliant but protects them from potential litigation and fines, which can be costly and tarnish your brand.

Communication Improvements

Even teams show improvements when manufacturing operations management is involved. The nature of the system builds communication between different departments and in doing so helps them work better together. Again, all these benefits feed one another to create an ongoing cycle of improvements, each building upon the other.

How ProjectManager Helps With Manufacturing Operations Management

It’s clear that manufacturing operations management is important, but implementing it can be difficult and requires a lot of oversight. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps with your manufacturing operations management. Beyond automated workflows and approval of tasks that streamline production and increase productivity without sacrificing quality, our software has other features that help you manage such essential activities as maintenance of your equipment and tracking of inventory.

Schedule Maintenance With Robust Gantt Charts

Regular maintenance of machinery is essential to keep production lines running without interruption. But it’s easy to get lost in daily operations and neglect this critical task. Our Gantt charts allow you to add maintenance on machinery in the production schedule. You can view the entire production schedule on the Gantt chart’s timeline to determine when the production line is idle or a machine can be taken out for maintenance without disrupting production. Our notification feature will alert you by email and in the software so you never have to even leave the tool.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart
Keep Track of Inventory With Kanban Boards

Having an accurate count of what inventory is in your warehouse ensures that your production line always has what it needs to keep running and delivering products to your customers. Our kanban board is fully customizable so you can create as many columns as you need to mimic your production cycle. Managers get visibility to track inventory levels on kanban cards and can see when it’s time to reorder materials to make sure there are no costly interruptions in your production schedule.

ProjectManager's kanban board

Our software can also help with resource planning. Gantt charts can plan resources and costs, while team availability can be added to the software to make assignments easier. There’s also a color-coded workload chart that allows managers to see at a glance whether their team members are over-allocated and, if they are, reallocate their work right from that chart to balance their workload. That keeps teams working at capacity, which improves productivity.

ProjectManager is online project management software that connects managers and production crews whether they’re in the office, working jobs on the assembly line or anywhere in between. Share files, comment at the task level and more to foster greater collaboration and manufacturing operations management. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.