Manufacturing Production Planner

The Job and What's Involved

Manufacturing production planners make sure that the goods made by their company are produced efficiently, cost-effectively and to the right quality, and they are ready to send out to customers on the date required.

Although individual jobs vary, typical responsibilities include:

  • Working with staff from other departments, such as the sales division, to understand the customer's exact requirements.
  • Deciding what materials will be used and how much they will cost.
  • Deciding what machinery will be used.
  • Deciding how many workers will be needed.
  • Calculating how long it will take to complete the job.
  • Drawing up a production schedule which details all the tasks that need to be done and when they must be completed for the goods to be ready on time.
  • Liaising with buyers, suppliers, the human resources team and maintenance staff to make sure that all materials, workers and machinery will be ready when they are needed.
  • Checking the progress of the job and making sure that the schedule is being followed.
  • Dealing quickly with any problems that may delay progress, such as machinery breakdowns or staff shortages.
  • Using computer software to collect and analyse figures and to produce schedules and reports.

Production planners usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Extra hours may be required at busy times. They may be on call to deal with emergencies outside normal working hours.

They are based in an office with a PC and a telephone but also attend meetings elsewhere in the company and visit the factory floor. Factory conditions vary according to the sort of goods produced. Some are light and clean (and sometimes sterile), while others may be hot, cold, dirty, dusty or noisy.

Starting salaries may be around £16,000. Additional payments may be made for shift work and overtime.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Almost every manufacturing company in the UK employs at least one production planner. In very small companies they may combine production planning with other roles. Large companies often have production teams consisting of several production planners, one or more production managers and other staff such as production engineers. Employers produce an enormous range of products from food and clothing to pharmaceuticals, electronics and aircraft. Although most factories are in towns and cities, there are some in rural areas.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national papers and at Jobcentre Plus offices. There are a number of recruitment agencies, both online and in the High Street, that specialise in finding staff for manufacturing businesses.

Education and Training

There are no minimum qualifications to begin training as a production planner. It is possible to start work in another manufacturing role and, with training and experience of various areas such as supervision or quality control, be promoted to the position of production planner.

Many people begin work in manufacturing through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Some people enter directly as trainee production planners. Employers look for candidates who are qualified to HNC/HND or degree level. Any subject is acceptable for some jobs, but in other areas of manufacturing candidates need a qualification in manufacturing, science or technology.

Entry requirements vary between courses and individual institutions, but as a guide, candidates for HNC/HND courses need at least one A level/two H grades and three GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3). There are no set entry requirements for Foundation degrees. In general, applicants for degree courses usually need at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Candidates should check with individual institutions.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Professional Youth and Community Workers usually have a qualification in youth work validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA), (or Youth Council for Northern Ireland), and recognised by the JNC for Youth and Community Workers.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A manufacturing production planner should:

  • Have excellent problem-solving skills.
  • Be able to make decisions quickly and sometimes under pressure.
  • Have excellent organisational skills.
  • Have excellent communication skills.
  • Be comfortable working with figures.
  • Be able to work quickly, accurately and pay attention to detail.
  • Have IT skills.
  • Understand manufacturing processes.
  • Be able to cope with deadlines and other pressured situations.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced production planners, especially if they have the right qualifications, may be promoted to production manager. It may be necessary to change employer to find promotion opportunities, especially for people working in smaller companies.

There may also be opportunities to move into other areas of management and become involved in long-term strategic planning rather than day-to-day operations.

Get Further Information

Chartered Management Institute, 3rd Floor,
2 Savoy Court, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ
Tel: 020 7497 0580
Website: www.managers.org.uk

The Institute of Operations Management (IOM),
University of Warwick Science Park,
Sir William Lyons Road, Coventry CV4 7EZ
Tel: 024 7669 2266
Website: www.iomnet.org.uk

SEMTA (Science, Engineering and
Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923238441
Website: www.semta.org.uk

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