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.