What does a Production Supervisor do?
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.
A production supervisor can be a nightmare or a dream come true for the average working man, or girl as it were! I know – because I’ve been there.
I worked making cheerleading outfits during a summer in college. It was a production job, and as soon as I was hired I started to hear the stories. “Look out for Ms. Virginia. She’s mean.” “She’ll fire you as soon as look at you – you better be careful, college girl.”
Gees, I was scared to death. But here is what I found out. Ms. Virginia had to make that place run like a well-oiled machine, and she was where the buck stopped. When things went well, she didn’t get yelled at by the owners of the plant. Somebody really screwed up, and she was crucified.
Turns out she needed a college girl who really needed some dough and wanted her job! She made me the inspector for most of the summer, and we got on fine.
I also found out that the people who didn’t like her were the ones who didn’t do their jobs in the least, and she had pure mercy on them by not letting them go.
Growing up in the deep South, my father was the production supervisor in a textile mill. It was a larger corporation that he worked for, but he oversaw all of the work in his particular plant.
He worked there for 23 years, and he will still tell you that those folks were his second family. Unfortunately, when businesses started heading overseas during the Clinton administration, that was one of them.
All of those people lost their jobs because the entire enterprise moved to Mexico.
Still, we all remember my dad’s time at ‘the plant’ as a good time up until near the end. It was so nice to have that kind of stability for so long.
The trouble was that even with all of his experience, he couldn't find another job after that for a long while because all of the other textile mills were heading in the same direction that his did.
Now, he's doing something totally different with a maintenance job with the tourist industry.
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