5 Types of Production Planning (With Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 11, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Production planning can save manufacturers of any size money, time and effort. By setting out in advance how many items you plan to produce, what raw materials you need and how many people you need to make them, you can avoid delays and make sure you have what you need before you begin. If you're curious about how production planning might work for your organization, you may benefit from learning about different production modes and how planning works for each.

In this article, we discuss what production planning is and discuss five different types of production planning methods with examples for each.

What is production planning?

Production planning is a process that involves scheduling and organizing the manufacturing processes in a plant. Effective production planning allows a company to monitor its production, identify issues, deliver products on time and avoid problem escalation. At the end of the production planning process, the company has detailed information on the inventory, process and staff required, usually laid out in spreadsheets or formal reports. Here are the main goals of production planning:

  • Efficient use of current materials, utilities and resources

  • Minimizing waste and excess in purchase of additional materials

  • Using employees' time and equipment effectively

Many organizations use specific procedures, software and processes for production planning. Here are the factors that are considered during production planning:

  • Market expectations

  • Inventory

  • Equipment and human resources

  • Standardized processes

  • Risk factors

Related: Guide to Production Planning: Benefits and Steps

5 types of production planning with examples

Here are the five types of production planning, with an example of each:

1. Flow

The flow method involves smoothing the connections between manufacturing stages and steps to prevent bottlenecks or delays. Flow manufacturing often involves thorough standardization and intensive quality control. This method is best for items that have to be produced one at a time rather than in batches, but which don't require customized designs for each object. When planning for flow production, it's important to keep inventory in mind to avoid delays at any stage.

Example

Here's an example of the flow method to consider:

Car manufacturer Atomic Wheels is developing a manufacturing facility for their flagship car. They plan on a flow method of production, so they begin the production planning process by evaluating their manufacturing capacity at each stage of assembly. They use this information to make an estimate of how many cars they can produce each week, then make a plan for how many employees they need at each step and what training and skills each position requires.

They input all this information into production planning software and use that to calculate how much material to order each week. Finally, they create a production schedule for how long their manufacturing process will take, when they can release their first car and when they can ship it to dealerships.

2. Mass production

The mass production method is similar to the flow method, but it usually includes more automation and lines devoted to producing one product to reduce time needed for changeovers. It helps companies produce larger numbers of things more quickly. It's distinct from batch production since items don't have to pass through certain stages as batches. When planning for mass production, it's important to have a good estimate of what product demand might be. Mass production can make many items very quickly, but good planning can avoid extra items turning into excess inventory.

Example

Consider this mass production example:

A project manager at Incorporated Toys is creating a production plan to roll out their new hula hoops. She first maps the whole process of production, marking down the time, employees and materials required for each step. Then, she identifies potential failure steps and calculates what delays or costs might be. She also considers the market research available from the product development team to estimate demand for the hula ho**ops.

As she puts the information into her planning software, she generates a system for inventory control based on potential number of hula hoops produced. She schedules how the company will allocate staff and equipment for the new line and creates a proposal for how many new employees the company should hire.

Read more: What Is Mass Production? (With Advantages and Disadvantages)

3. Process

Process production involves making the transition from one manufacturing stage to the next as smooth as possible with significant automation. It's usually useful for liquid substances that are not sold as discrete items. Process production requires significant monitoring to make sure the product is up to standards at each stage, since errors can affect significant amounts of product quickly. Production planning might include staffing and equipment to monitor the product carefully.

Example

Here's a process production example:

Covert Coatings is updating their production planning for their polymer paint line. Their head of production analyzes their current production plan, locating bottlenecks, delays and common failure points. He notices the largest production problem is occasional delays that cause the paint to pass through the system more slowly, thicken up and not pass quality assurance checks.

He creates a new production plan based on this information that includes a revised quality assurance system and more pressure gauges. He includes more checkpoints along the production line, so that employees can notice problems more quickly and reduce the amount of wasted paint.

4. Job

Job production planning refers to processes that involve specific planning and manufacturing processes for each item. Also called project-based production, this process works well for customized items. Depending on the job, planning for job production manufacturing can be quicker than planning for more automated manufacturing processes. Articulating the process in advance can help small businesses anticipate and prevent challenges.

Example

Here is an example of job production planning to consider:

A jewelry designer receives a custom order for a bracelet. He first examines the order to determine which materials he needs and what processes he'll use to create the bracelet. Then he factors in time to purchase materials and craft the bracelet, and provides the customer with a scheduled arrival time. Taking time to create this simple production plan ensures that he can give an accurate estimate to his customer, improving customer satisfaction and cultivating brand loyalty.

Related: Product Customization: What It Is and Benefits

5. Batch

Batch production planning is the process of manufacturing items in groups. This process can allow for close management at each stage of the process and quick correction, since an error noticed in one batch can be fixed for the next batch. If some manufacturing equipment can handle larger amounts than others, it may lead to bottlenecks or delays when using batch manufacturing, so it's important to consider capacity at each stage while planning for this type of manufacturing.

Example

Consider this batch production planning example:

Jackson's Baked Goods is creating a production plan for their new cinnamon bread. First, the head baker calculates batch production time based on the recipe. Then, he modifies the bakery's weekly ingredient orders to include appropriate supplies, and schedules the weekly cinnamon bread bake for a time when staff have downtime. He makes a list of standards for the bakery staff to check at each stage of production, so they can quickly identify any substandard materials or other batch mistakes without wasting processing time on subpar cinnamon bread.

Related: A Definitive Guide to Materials Management

Tips for production planning

Here are some tips to keep in mind when doing production planning:

  • Inspect the process. Monitoring production is important no matter the scale of the business, since it can help organizations understand where they can help employees or make the process more efficient.

  • Select the right tool. There are many options for production planning software and systems, so taking time to evaluate different options before beginning may help you select a tool that does everything you need it to.

  • Research for correct estimates. Research can help in the planning process for any product or system, even if you are familiar with the item itself. Important estimates of how much things cost, how much time tasks take and what exact equipment you need are crucial for good production planning.

  • Consider employees. While optimizing production for efficiency and profit, consider what working on the line is like for employees, and make sure to factor in enough time for equipment maintenance, breaks and social interaction so that the environment is safe for everyone.

  • Hire for skills. When you're developing a new product or line, you might be able to increase product quality and even decrease training time by considering what skills each role requires and what other jobs might best prepare employees to fill it.

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