Every manufacturer knows the importance of increasing their production throughput and capacity while controlling production costs. It involves a cohesive and well run supply chain where a company’s vendors are aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. When manufacturers want to ensure they are meeting sales forecasts and fulfilling customer orders, they call upon the expertise of the production manager. While many manufacturers have succumbed to worldwide competition and lower labor rates, several have learned the importance of increasing production capacity and reducing costs by constantly lowering their production cycle times. The production manager is entirely responsible for finding new and innovative ways of lowering manufacturing cycle times, improving efficiencies, increasing production throughput and meeting the cyclical demands of sales.
Production managers must deal with material and part shortages while ensuring their production runs as smoothly as possible. They must properly train new employees and make sure they are up to speed on the company’s processes and work operations. In addition, they must provide incentives for existing employees to reach their full potential. In this capacity they may be called upon to provide training programs and internships to improve the knowledge of those who report to them. Production managers must ensure work orders are clear, work instructions are well understood and that bill of materials and assembly drawings are clearly defined. Given the full range of their responsibilities, what can someone expect in terms of salary? Also, for anyone interested in becoming a production manager, what is the training and education required and what if any certifications are needed?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, production managers are well compensated for their jobs. The top 75% of production managers earn approximately $54.00 an hour or over $110,000.00 a year in salary. The top 90% earn $70.00 an hour or over $145,000.00 a year in salary. Even those below the median 50% are able to secure and impressive $41.00 an hour salary or $85,000.00 in annual income. A production manager’s salary is highly dependant upon their industry and expertise. Among the highest paying production manager positions include those who work in polymers (plastics manufacturing), petroleum, pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing. Some production managers are given bonuses based on cost reductions accrued throughout the year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Production managers are required to ensure the company’s production runs smoothly. To be successful they must be able to match their capacity to the level of work. They often take part in deciding upon large capital expenditures on equipment by analyzing the increased production capacity, the costs of consumables & spare parts, as well as the costs of upkeep & training. However, their main responsibility is to either control costs or reduce them. They play a pivotal role in increasing the company’s gross profit objectives by reducing manufacturing costs. They must be well versed in the most up to date supply chain management practices and make sure they have a thorough understanding of lean manufacturing principles.
Production managers must be prepared to manage cycle times for each production cell, as well as mitigate transit times from one work cell to the next. To lower manufacturing cycle times means to lower them in every operation and ensure that changes made in one work station, don’t create a backlog in the next. Cycle time analysis involves eliminating lost and idle time in manufacturing in all its forms. This involves working closely with production employees to capture lost time as it occurs.
Training and Education Requirements
At one time, production managers rose through the ranks. They may have started in a lower position and gradually increased their abilities until they became a production manager. However, today’s manufacturers prefer their production managers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. The most common bachelor’s degrees for production managers include degrees in operations, supply chain & inventory management, business administration and engineering. Production managers must learn the principles of lean or Kaizen manufacturing and be able to put those approaches to use.
A number of companies and large corporations have internal certification programs. These are used to increase the knowledge and expertise of production managers and to give them the foundation to pursue and secure higher positions. However, most production managers pursue the CPIM (Certified in Production & Inventory Management) certification. This certification provides production managers with insight into proper supply chain and JIT (Just in Time) inventory management practices. In addition, the certification also provides different production approaches as well as the importance of streamlining manufacturing and operations. Another certification for production managers includes the CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional). This certification includes steps on how to lower production lead times, inventory costs and the essential steps to increasing worker productivity and efficiency.
There are several professional associations for production managers to join. Some are based on a given market or industry, while others are geared towards more broad based knowledge. The association that provides the above mentioned CPIM & CSCP certifications is APICS, which is the American Productivity & Inventory Control Society. This association has plenty of books and manuals on the most important production management techniques and is considered the most important association available to production managers.
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