4 Manufacturing Process Controls

4.1 Purpose of Manufacturing Process Controls

The purpose of manufacturing process controls is to enable and facilitate the manufacturing operation of the production function of your business enterprise. In previous lessons, I dealt with issues related to: Establishing your production function; and selecting and appointing production human resources; and crafting and executing your production policies and procedures.

Developing and implementing manufacturing process controls may be done by the manufacturing manager or executive, in charge, of the manufacturing operation. All these controls should be ratified by the board before they are put into operational status.

The usual manufacturing process controls are described next.

4.2 Production-Manufacturing Action Plan

The development of your Production-Manufacturing Action Plan is the first and most crucial plan in establishing and running your production operation. It pertains to all components of your Production System: Input, Processing, Output and Storage.

This action plan usually consists of very detail activities to ensure that all production and manufacturing is executed to the most optimal way3.

An example of such a plan for a manufacturing operation follows:

Activity 1: Purchasing raw materials and parts. You need a steady supply of raw materials and parts to assemble, manufacture or produce your goods and distribute them to your customers. Your plan to purchase raw materials and parts should ensure availability and timely delivery of the required items for timely production according to your quality specifications and other cost considerations.

Activity 2: Inspecting materials and parts. You need to inspect all materials and parts before the production process starts. Your engineering and quality teams, according to your inspection and quality standards procedure, should ensure that these are of the right characteristics before being used.

Activity 3: Inspecting and monitoring production equipment and systems. You need to also inspect initially all production equipment materials and systems before the production process starts. Also your engineering and quality teams, during the production process, should continuously monitor their operation to ensure that these function according to what is expected of them.

Activity 4: Manufacturing products. According to the production or manufacturing recipe, an appropriate quantity of materials and parts are put into the manufacturing process, and production starts. Production follows the policies and procedures defined in lesson 3 and the standardization and quality management procedures described in lesson 5. All production equipment, systems, measurement and other control devices are regularly inspected and corrected so as to be minimized errors. The outputs of this process are the products manufactured or assembled. These are stored in the company warehouse for later packaging and delivery to customers.

Activity 5: Final Inspection. The inspection team of your quality management department collects samples from all manufactured items to get them through the inspection and quality testing procedures according to your standards.

Activity 6: New Product Development Controls. Developing a new product entails a complex set of activities, such as:

  1. Concept development: conceptual design and definition of the characteristics of the new product.
  2. Product planning: market building, small scale testing and feasibility study.
  3. Product and process engineering: detail design of the product, identification of the tools, processes and equipment required and building first prototypes.
  4. Pilot manufacturing: fabricating the first products, reviewing and improving the manufacturing process, marketing the first products, and planning the full production process.
  5. Market introduction: evaluate field experience with product, fill distribution channels, promote products, and interact with key customers.

Activity 7: Performance Management and Measurement Controls. Developing a system to collect and manage performance for your production process.

You should also note that the full and effective execution of this plan for your production also depends on the best operation of the following production-manufacturing support controls. Pay attention to them as your production requires them.

4.3 Production-Manufacturing Support Controls

  1. Master Production Schedule (MPS): This is your first production-manufacturing support control. The MPS is a time-phased plan specifies how many and when your company plans to build each end item (product).
  2. Material Requirements Planning (MRP) Process: This is your second production-manufacturing support control. The MRP process provides the schedule specifying when each of the materials, parts, and components should be ordered for the products to be manufactured. Also contains the logic for determining the number of parts, components and materials needed to produce the intended products.
  3. Bill of Materials (BOM) File: This is your third production-manufacturing support control. This file supports and implements your Production-Manufacturing Plan. The BOM file is a file maintained by a computerized application containing the complete product description, and the list of the materials, parts, and components, and the sequence in which the product is created.
  4. Preventive maintenance program: This is your fourth production-manufacturing support control. A stoppage in production in any area of the plant is usually due to a breakdown in machines and parts. A simple but effective program of preventive maintenance can save you many more dollars (or Euros or other currency) than it costs. Most manufacturers recommend periodic maintenance. I recommend that you follow their advice. Also it is a good idea to maintain your own maintenance log to ensure that all maintenance activities are properly recorded and monitored.
  5. Materials and vendors contingency list: This is your fifth production-manufacturing support control. To minimize your possible shortages of critical materials, it is highly desirable to maintain a list of substitute materials and suppliers, in case you need them. These should be kept by the person responsible for purchasing.
  6. Equipment Operational Description File: This is your sixth production-manufacturing support control.

It is essential to keep a full description of all equipment used for production purposes and their operational characteristics, in order to have the production equipment operate in an optimal, efficient and effective mode.

The typical information that should be kept includes: Serial number, Name and technical specifications, Maximum operating capacity (rate per hour and any work-size limitations), Operators required, including skills, Setup time, Maintenance schedule and parts list, Maintenance contractor details, etc.

  1. 7. Production Systems and Equipment Maintenance Contract: This is your seventh production-manufacturing support control. Production systems and equipment should be adequately inspected, cleaned and maintained. Systems and equipment that generate or measure data should be tested, calibrated, and/or standardized in accordance to standards. Written records should be maintained of all inspection, maintenance, calibrating, and standardizing operations. The records should also describe whether the maintenance is routine or non-routine.

A Maintenance Contract should cover all production systems and equipment.

Also a Maintenance Log, either manual or computerized, should be established and used for each system and equipment.

The log provides you with a comprehensive system for tracking systems and equipment maintenance.

This log is used to record all regular (routine) and irregular (non-routine) maintenance actions by: equipment type, model number, serial number, location, date of maintenance, date and nature of error or defect, remedial action taken, authorized signatures, etc.

  1. 8. Inventory Management System: This is your eighth production-manufacturing support control. It contains several sub-controls that operate as a whole and support each other in inventory management. A typical Inventory Management System includes, as an example:

8.1. Inventory Control Procedures: The use of inventory control procedures is critical to maintaining accurate, reliable numbers for your operation. Control can be a complicated balancing from the time a stock order is placed, received at your warehouse, counted, verified, labeled, put away, picked and shipped out or picked up.

Knowing where your product is with accuracy at all times is vital to your success.

These procedures are needed to manage the raw materials, parts, and products manufactured or assembled by your company.

These procedures include, as an example, the following:

  1. Inventory Stocking and Storage,
  2. Inventory Usage,
  3. Inventory Protection,
  4. Inventory Obsolescence,
  5. Inventory Disposal,
  6. Inventory Counting, and Period End Cut-Off, and
  7. Inventory Reporting.

8.2. Inventory Master Records (IMR) File: The IMR file, usually in computerized form, contains all the data describing the inventory items, and maintained by a Computerized Inventory Control System. These data usually contain the following information: part number, part description, lead time to order, standard cost, safety stock indicator, order quantity, setup, last year’s usage, item category, scrap allowance, on hand quantity, order details, manufacturer’s serial number, scheduled receipts, allocated numbers, etc. It usually also contains all the details of the products produced by your manufacturing process.

8.3. Inventory Transactions File: The Inventory Transactions file is a computerized file containing all the details of inventory item movements, such as: receipts, disbursements, scraps, cancelled orders, wrong parts, etc.

8.4. Inventory Forms: Specific forms that must be designed and used by each organization to execute these procedures may be: Asset and Inventory Entry Forms, Inventory Requisition, Inventory Count Sheet, Inventory Tag, Capital Asset Requisition, Asset Disposition Form, Bill Of Sale, and Material Return Notice.

  1. 9. Computerized Production Information Systems: This is your ninth production-manufacturing support control. It contains several sub-controls that may exist independent of each other.

The modern production systems require the development and deployment of computerized production information systems. Developing and implementing such systems may be done by the manufacturing manager or executive, in charge, of the manufacturing and production operation, with the assistance and support of the IT department.

The usual computerized production information systems are:

9.1. Material Requirements Planning (MRP) System: An MRP system is an integration of software, people, equipment, methods and controls, designed to carry out the operations of production scheduling, identification of the parts and materials to produce the end products, and manage the purchasing process for obtaining these parts and materials.

The major files employed by this system are: inventory file, the master production schedule file, and the Bill of Materials file.

9.2. Cost Accounting (CA) System: CA systems are defined as an integration of software, people, equipment, methods and controls, designed to manage the cost accounting function of the manufacturing or services processes of the organization. The major files employed by this system are: inventory file, general ledger file, standard cost master file, employee payroll master file, budgets master file, work-in-progress inventory file, etc. The major forms used by this system are: job time ticket, material issued, material turned into store, completed move ticket, quantity standards, price standards, labor rate standards, etc.

9.3. Production Planning and Control (PPC) System: PPC systems are defined as an integration of software, people, equipment, methods and controls, designed to manage the manufacturing function of the organization. The major files employed by this system are: material requirements planning file, work center master file, work center status file, parts master file, bill of materials file, routing file, etc. The major forms used by this system are: master production schedule, order requirements schedule, etc.

9.4. Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) System: CIM systems are integrated ready-made computerized application software systems designed to provide complete integration of your company’s production and manufacturing processes (production forecasting, production scheduling, MRP, capacity planning, production cost control, shop floor scheduling, machine control, production simulation, etc.) and all related data.

9.5. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System: ERP systems are integrated ready-made computerized application software systems designed to provide complete integration of your company’s business information processing systems (accounting, human resources, production, manufacturing, sales, logistics, etc.) and all related data.

  1. 10. Production-Compliance Records management: This is your tenth production-manufacturing support control.

This system is used to systematically keep all relevant business records related to all produced and manufactured products and their maintenance details. It is used to show to authorities, regulators, auditors and other professionals how the company complies with the relevant national and industry rules, regulations, codes and standards.

In conclusion, when you think of the manufacturing process controls described in this lesson (Production-Manufacturing Action Plan, Production-Manufacturing Support Controls, and Computerized Production Information Systems, etc.) and what they may mean to you and your corporate organization, consider the following quotation by the Walmart Founder, Sam Walton:

‘We’re all working together; that’s the secret’.

Recommendation 4: Make products to suit customer’s needs and expectations in the most effective, minimum cost and highest quality way. Use computerized systems and IT applications to improve and stream line your production and manufacturing operation. Apply project management to ensure that IT systems are designed and implemented with minimum specifications, cost and time overruns.