Most manufacturing companies have a production process that uses many different machines, materials, and workers. For example, a ship-building plant may use over a billion parts from thousands of different suppliers and employ thousands of workers who in turn use hundreds of different tools, equipment, and machines to do their jobs. Scheduling all these people, materials, and machines to be at the right place at the right time so the production process runs smoothly is the job of production planners.
Most production planners rely on computer software to determine their factory's production needs. Factory simulation software allows companies to simulate production as it moves through a factory before it is actually built. This allows planners and engineers and technicians to see “bottle necks” and equipment time cycles to be able to plan for bringing raw material and sending out finished product.
Job Outlook and Growth Potential:
Like most professionals in manufacturing, production planners cannot expect much growth in employment opportunities in the future. Advanced computer technology that makes production planners more efficient discourages employers from hiring more planners even if the company expands.
Wages and Earnings Potential:
Entry-level planners working at small factories earn salaries as low as $25,000 per year, while experienced planners earn around $50,000 a year. Production managers can earn higher salaries, often over $75,000.