Production is the functional area responsible for turning inputs into finished outputs through a series of production processes. The Production Manager is responsible for making sure that raw materials are provided and made into finished goods effectively. He or she must make sure that work is carried out smoothly, and must supervise procedures for making work more efficient and more enjoyable.
Five production sub-functions
In a manufacturing company, the production function may be split into five sub-functions:
- The production and planning department will set standards and targets for each section of the production process. The quantity and quality of products coming off a production line will be closely monitored. In businesses focusing on lean production, quality will be monitored by all employees at every stage of production, rather than at the end as is the case for businesses using a quality control approach.
- The purchasing department will be responsible for providing the materials, components and equipment required to keep the production process running smoothly. A vital aspect of this role is ensuring stocks arrive on time and to the right quality.
- The store’s department will be responsible for stocking all the necessary tools, spares, raw materials and equipment required to service the manufacturing process. Where sourcing is unreliable, buffer stocks will need to be kept and the use of computerised stock control systems helps keep stocks at a minimal but necessary level for production to continue unhindered.
- The design and technical support department will be responsible for researching new products or modifications to existing ones, estimating costs for production in different quantities and using different methods. It will also be responsible for the design and testing of new production processes and product types, together with the development of prototypes through to the final product. The technical support department may also be responsible for work study and suggestions as to how working practices can be improved.
- The works department will be concerned with the manufacture of products. This will include the maintenance of the production line and other necessary repairs. The works department may also have responsibility for quality control and inspection.
A key aspect of modern production is ensuring quality. The term quality means fitness for purpose i.e. a product, process or service should do exactly what is expected of it.
Total quality management
Car plants like Leyland build quality into every stage of the production process. Every employee is expected to take responsibility for managing quality issues in order to make sure that waste is minimised and quality maximised. This is often referred to as total quality management and is part of the lean production methods used in modern industry.
For businesses to be competitive, Production and Marketing need to work in an integrated way. Marketing is concerned with knowing and understanding the requirements of customers so that Production can provide the market-led products that are required. This also requires excellent communication systems to be in place.