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What does a Production Planner do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A production planner oversees operations and implements new industrial techniques at a factory or manufacturing plant. He or she consults with factory workers and reviews efficiency reports to determine whether new equipment, labor, or systems should be implemented to improve production efforts. The work of a production planner is essential in keeping costs low, productivity rates high, and laborers happy with their jobs.

The specific job responsibilities of a production planner can vary based on the size and scope of a company's production department. Planners who work at smaller factories generally spend most of their time on the factory floor, talking to workers and personally inspecting equipment and progress. They often ask for employee input about possible ways to improve productivity, which may involve more frequent rotations on an assembly line or the installation of more current robotic assembly equipment. Production planners at larger companies typically spend more time in their offices, relying on the reports of planning clerks to assess the efficiency of current production strategies.

Regardless of the setting, a production planner needs to possess a particular set of character traits and technical skills to perform the job well. A professional must be able to pick out small details in reports and make important decisions about strategy changes and equipment purchases. He or she also needs strong communication and leadership skills to train workers on new systems and explain the reasoning behind production changes. Computer skills are essential as well, as a planner often works with engineers to design and test simulations of novel production strategies. In addition, he or she may be required to create electronic reports, graphs, and presentations for management.

The requirements to become a production planner can vary between industries and specific employers. Many companies prefer to hire planners who hold bachelor's degrees in business administration, economics, or a similar subject. A degree in engineering may be necessary for employment at a sophisticated factory, such as an aeronautics firm or a chemical manufacturing plant. In some settings, machinists or assembly line workers can advance to production planner jobs after gaining several years of experience and demonstrating strong leadership and organizational skills.

Production planners who succeed at their jobs may be rewarded with advancement opportunities. Many planners become lead supervisors, overseeing the work of managers of many different divisions of their companies. With ongoing experience and an advanced degree, an individual may have the chance to become a chief operating officer and make ultimate policy decisions.

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Discussion Comments
By Markus — On Jun 03, 2011

@whitesand - I've been in product management for the last couple of years and I know what you're saying about the job satisfaction.

Sure the hours are long, and you're on your feet a lot and some days can be very hectic, but when you see that production line running smooth and efficiently, there's nothing like it.

In most all industries it looks good on all production planner's resumes to have lowered production costs without sacrificing quality products.

By whitesand — On Jun 01, 2011

I've been a production manager for the past eight years and I've enjoyed every minute of it. There's nothing like the satisfaction of actually seeing the positive results from the decisions you make.

I have a degree in economics but I started out in the accounting department at my company and things just took off from there. I'm a people person anyway so I think that along with good organizational skills is what helped with my promotion.

By goldensky — On May 30, 2011

My uncle was a production manager for a small printing firm for about ten years before he was promoted to lead supervisor. I always thought my cousin and I would follow in his footsteps until he taught us exactly what production planning is all about.

The work days are very busy and you're on your feet a lot. Most days he was juggling twenty things at once. I know his job description is a lot lighter these days but he still misses the close interaction with his co-workers.

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