Planned Work: An Overview

Jonathan Trout, Noria Corporation
Tags: planning and scheduling

Planned work is a technique used to foresee each step in a series of separate operations, with each step being taken at the right time and in the right place, while each operation is performed with maximum efficiency.  

Planned Work: An Overview


What Is Planned Work?

Planned work can be defined as a technique used to foresee each step in a series of separate operations, with each step being taken at the right time and in the right place, while each operation is performed with maximum efficiency. In other words, planned work gives you full control over your manufacturing process, which ultimately leads to the ability to minimize waste, improve process flow, better manage personnel and avoid bottlenecks.

Author and personal time management educator Alan Lakein is famous for saying, "Planning is bringing the future into the present, so you can do something about it now." Put simply, be prepared. Planning and being prepared for not just potential future occurrences but weekly and daily schedules create an efficient culture and increase reliability.

The objectives of planned work may vary across industries, but generally production planning aims to:

  • regulate inventory management;
  • optimize the use of production resource and processes;
  • organize production schedules;
  • ensure the availability of material and equipment during production; and
  • guarantee production and capacity remain aligned with forecast demand.

Specifically, in the manufacturing industry, planned work aims to ensure procurement operates smoothly, making certain that materials and equipment are available when needed and that production and scheduling needs are met.

Before you can begin planning work for all facets of your operation, you need a couple of pieces of information. First, you should have a full overview of the necessary materials, equipment and components required for your end product.

1. Product components: These consist of a bill of materials (BOM), routing (the process of producing the item), raw material availability in stock, the cost of raw materials and lead time, and prices from the supplier.

Secondly, you'll need to connect the dots and figure out what is required to take the product components and turn them into the final product.

2. Labor and workstations: This will include workforce personnel and machine availability, machine capacity and productivity, costs associated with labor, and the machinery within each workstation.

Knowing this information gets you well on your way to a plan that not only prepares you for the unexpected but also answers key questions like how long will it take for my product to be ready and what will it cost. The benefits of planned work are far-reaching and include things such as improved organization that promotes regular and timely delivery, better communication with suppliers for improved raw material procurement, a reduction in inventory investment, a decrease in production costs through increased efficiency, a better flow of all production processes, a reduction in the amount of wasted resources and an improved bottom line.

Planned Work: A Hypothetical Example

To get a snapshot of how planned work can benefit an organization, let's take a look at an example. When it comes to planned work and maintenance, studies have shown that one hour of properly planned maintenance eliminates three hours of repair work. More widely accepted is that every planned maintenance hour is worth two breakdown hours. Knowing this, imagine your plant currently operates at 70 percent reactive maintenance to 30 percent planned maintenance. Your goal is to achieve 80 percent planned maintenance and 20 percent reactive maintenance

A two-hour reduction in reactive maintenance occurs with the addition of one more hour. However, personnel find they are now spending 98 hours on what used to take 100 hours. If they continue to increase planned work incrementally, the reduction in reactive maintenance will continue to add up until they reach at or near 80 percent planned work. The table below outlines this logic.

Total Maintenance Hours Planned Maintenance Hours Unplanned Maintenance Hours % of Planned Work
100 30 70 30%
98 31 67 31.63%
96 32 64 33.33%
94 33 61 35.10%
92 34 58 36.95%
90 35 55 38.88%
88 36 52 40.90%
86 37 49 43.02%
84 38 46 45.23%
82 39 43 47.56%
80 40 40 50%
78 41 37 52.56%
76 42 34 55.26%
74 43 31 58.10%
72 44 28 61.11%
70 45 25 64.28%
68 46 22 67.64%
66 47 19 71.21%
64 48 16 75%
62 49 13 79.03%
60 50 10 83.33%

Since each planned work hour reduces unplanned work hours by two, the crew will have only spent approximately 62 man-hours performing about 100 man-hours worth of work by the time the plant reaches 90 percent planned work.


The Stages of Planned Work

Planned work in the manufacturing sector doesn't always just involve maintenance. Manufacturing planning and control plans consist of multiple stages across the entire business.

  • Business planning involves striving to reach future goals across the company. These overall goals focus on areas like profitability, lead time, productivity, etc. Business planning ensures important goals that drive the company are being met and efforts are being focused in the right areas.
  • Sales planning entails coordinating the entire sales process: sales, marketing, product development, etc. Planned work within the sales department ensures coordination between sales and forecasting/procurement departments, allowing the organization to fill orders effectively based on real-time demand and keeping orders fulfilled on time.
  • Master production scheduling (MPS) is the facet of planning that controls the scheduling of individual commodities being produced for each time period. It pertains to production, staffing, inventory, etc., and directly relates to manufacturing planned work when the plan indicates how much of each product will be in demand. Master production scheduling optimizes production, deals with bottlenecks and anticipates needs by quantifying processes, parts and other resources. MPS will be discussed a bit more in depth below.
  • Material requirements planning (MRP) is a production planning, scheduling and inventory control system. These systems are intended to ensure materials are available for production and end products are available to customers. They also give the lowest level of material and product possible and plan manufacturing activities, schedules and purchasing activities.
  • Purchase planning involves controlling the flow of purchasing materials inside the factory. In other words, it controls the purchasing of raw materials and makes sure the purchasing of those raw materials is done in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Planned Work and Production Planning and Control

Part of planned work involves production planning and control. The British Standards Institute lays out four stages or techniques in the process of production planning and control. They consist of routing, scheduling, dispatching and follow-up. The first two steps, routing and scheduling, deal with production planning, while the last two steps, dispatching and follow-up, focus on production control.

4 steps planned work
  1. Routing can be defined as figuring out the path (route) of all work, which includes the sequence of operations. Routing aims to determine four things in advance: the quantity and quality of the product; which personnel, machines and materials will be used; the type, number and sequence of manufacturing operations; and where production will take place. In other words, routing predetermines "how," "where," "what," "how much" and "with which."

    Routing provides a systematic way of taking raw materials and turning them into the finished product. When planning for routing, consider human factors such as human needs and expectations, as well as the plant layout, which includes what machines do and where they are located.

  2. Scheduling aims to identify the exact amount of work to be done, prioritize the various manufacturing operations, and determine the start and completion date for each operation. Scheduling can be thought of as a timetable for when materials, parts and machines are to be available for use. This can lend itself to multiple schedules, such as a master schedule, an operations schedule and a daily schedule.

    The goal of scheduling is to optimize time by bringing time coordination to production planning. This, in turn, ensures on-time delivery for all products and eliminates any idle capacity.

  3. Dispatching is where the action and implementation begin to take place based on route sheets and scheduling sheets. This is when the production process starts to happen. Dispatching includes allotting the proper materials and tools necessary for production; issuing orders, instructions and design plans for the work; maintaining records of the start and completion times for each job; moving the work from one process to the next based on the schedule; and taking note of machine idle times.
  4. Follow-up, or evaluation, is the last step in planning and control. It deals directly with analyzing results. This includes looking for and removing defects, delays, limitations and bottlenecks that are noticed in the production process. Follow-up also considers the actual performance numbers and compares them with the expected performance numbers. It keeps records of all data for future planning and control functions.

Planned Work and Material Requirements Planning (MRP)

Material requirements planning (MRP) is most often used during the routing and scheduling phases of production planning and control. This planning and control system for inventory and scheduling breaks down the master production schedule into a more detailed schedule so you can more easily know when to purchase raw materials and components.

Material requirements planning is a type of inventory control push system that uses forecasting to help determine customer demand. An organization forecasts the number of products it needs to buy, along with the number of materials required to produce those products. The products are then pushed to the consumer. Contrastingly, a pull system is where the customer places an order first. As you can imagine, push systems are vulnerable to variations in sales, making them inaccurate and causing a shortage or surplus of inventory.

Material requirements planning is an important aspect of identifying the two types of inventory: independent demand and dependent demand. Independent demand is the end product, like a skateboard or a car. Dependent demand is the need for components and parts to reach the end product, like wheels for the skateboard or doors for the car. Dependent demand is directly determined by figuring out the quantity of independent demand. This relationship between the end product and the materials are calculated using MRP.

Material requirements planning puts together an orderly flow of materials, components and parts in an order system based around the production schedule. It also tracks variables such as purchase and sales orders, materials shortage, expedited orders, forecasts, due dates, bill of materials (BOM) and more.

Material requirements planning consists of three basic processes:

  • Identify quantity requirements: This step requires you to determine what quantity already exists in an open purchase order that is planned for manufacturing, already committed to existing orders and forecasted. Quantity requirements are specific to each company location and may change with time.
  • Run the MRP calculations: Include suggestions for materials you consider critical, expedited and/or delayed.
  • Complete orders: Determine the exact location of materials for the order.

Used properly, MRP can reduce stored inventory, component shortages, overall manufacturing costs and more. One of the biggest downsides to MRP is the potential for human error. You must keep inventory records and BOM changes up to date so the correct figures are input when calculating MRP.


Planned Work and Maintenance Planning and Scheduling (MPS)

In addition to production planning and control, planned work involves the planning of maintenance work — maintenance planning and scheduling (MPS). Maintenance planning is an end-to-end process intended to identify and address any possible issues before they occur. Maintenance scheduling refers to the timing of planned work, when the work should be done and who should perform it. Used together, the two help control your budget through the managing of resources, helping to reduce downtime and spare parts, improving workflow, and more.

Implementing MPS consists of six phases:

planned work
  1. Setup: This involves getting your organization on board with scheduling maintenance by exposing issues of low productivity, laying out how MPS can solve this issue, calculating the value of productivity improvement, and presenting the results in terms of the return on investment (ROI).
  2. Define and analyze the situation: This phase has your team analyzing your current situation and identifying any issues currently faced in executing proper maintenance. This meeting should include representation from all levels of the maintenance process and should outline the current MPS plan. Mapping out your current processes highlights inefficiencies, forcing them to the surface and directly addressing them.
  3. Develop and prepare for delivery: Phase three pertains to planners and supervisors establishing supporting documentation and process maps, as well as defining new roles and responsibilities. It also involves role-specific training sessions for each maintenance team member.
  4. Implementation: This entails rolling out the new maintenance planning and scheduling process and getting the team on board with it until it becomes the new normal. This phase can take anywhere from three to six months.
  5. Review: Phase five is often referred to as the "close-out" phase. It's important to ensure the new MPS process remains intact when the training is over. This is done by celebrating success, reviewing what is going well and what isn't, and developing sustainable procedures.
  6. Sustain: The last phase confirms the new MPS process is continuously improving. Clearly define procedures; verify new technicians are properly trained; and ensure standardized, up-to-date and easily accessible documentation is in place.

Planned Work Software

Planned work is made much easier with the continuous advancement of technology. Planned work-specific software comes pre-engineered to manage various aspects of planning and scheduling and can be integrated together to minimize data input.

  • Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software can help organizations optimize the allocation of raw materials and production capacity to meet demand. Not only is APS software good for manufacturing departments, but it can also be leveraged by other areas of your business, such as inventory management and procurement. Once set up, APS software has multiple benefits. The most notable benefits include the following:
    • It can analyze past purchasing data and predict the times during which raw materials cost the least.
    • It can automatically plan and schedule production based on the available materials, labor and plant capacity.
    • It can increase the visibility within your supply chain through color-coding, setting alerts and using things like dialog boxes for instant communication.
  • Master production schedule software helps you convert data from your manufacturing demand (forecasting, orders, dependent demand, etc.), current work orders and availability to a production plan. Master production schedule software can help you quickly identify resource availability and potential conflicts to help meet production delivery dates. It can generate detailed reports; color-code exceptions like work order, quantity or time changes; and provide an overview of the supply, demand and running balance based on current orders forecast or dependent demand.
  • Material requirements planning software is often part of an ERP package. This single software solution lets the MRP system work directly with the entire supply chain to quickly and accurately match availability with demand. The MRP software automatically evaluates the availability of materials based on the required manufacturing date while simultaneously accounting for current demand and material lead times. Other capabilities include automated material ordering, ideal versus existing analysis, and hard and soft allocation.
  • Bill of materials (BOM) software: BOM software can be integrated with APS software (among others) to make certain the numbers for material requirements planning are available for calculation. BOM software graphically displays things like part numbers and the relationship between packaging, inserted components and secondary operations, instructions, tooling requirements, and more. Other benefits include the capability of building multi-level bills for individual components and integrating with work order software, resulting in accurate material, assembly and scheduling requirements being generated.