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A production supervisor oversees operations in a manufacturing plant or another industrial setting. He or she might supervise an entire plant or specialize in managing a specific division within a facility. This professional may be responsible for ensuring that raw materials and supplies are well stocked and that all equipment is kept in safe, proper working order. Many supervisors communicate directly with workers to ensure that production deadlines are met. Individuals may also make agreements with distributors and ensure that deliveries make their way out of the factory in a timely manner.
A large manufacturing plant requires the skills and knowledge of several production supervisors to oversee various divisions. A production supervisor in a large company might be placed in charge of the receiving department, ensuring that shipments of raw materials are accurate and that workers promptly put them to use. A floor supervisor manages different aspects of the production process, such as keeping assembly line workers on task and addressing problems such as broken machinery. A supervisor in the quality control department oversees workers who are responsible for inspecting finished goods for safety and quality. A packaging and shipping supervisor heads the division that prepares and distributes certain quantities of products to smaller distributors, warehouses, and stores.
Production supervisors usually keep in close contact with factory workers to build interpersonal relationships and improve productivity. Good supervisors often make themselves available for workers' questions, comments, and suggestions. When a production manager cannot directly help workers solve a problem, he or she often brings the issue to the other members of management or the factory owner in hopes of finding a solution.
In smaller factories, a production supervisor may be responsible for the entire process, from obtaining materials to shipping finalized products to distributors and warehouses. A supervisor in a small plant often assumes administrative and human resources duties as well. He or she might be involved with hiring and training new employees, managing payroll, and balancing budgets.
An individual who wants to become a production supervisor must typically work his or her way up in a production company. Many employers prefer to grant supervisory positions to people with bachelor's degrees in business administration. A new production supervisor usually receives on-the-job training by experienced managers to learn about different aspects of the position. Many individuals choose to take certification exams offered by national organizations such as the Association for Operations Management to improve their credentials and increase their chances of landing prosperous jobs.