What Does a Planning Supervisor Do?

C. Webb

A planning supervisor is charged with ensuring the production schedule is met in manufacturing. Using learned inspection and auditing skills, he or she determines what if any changes will help meet that goal. The typical work environment for a planning supervisor is a manufacturing plant. A college degree and several years of work experience are usually required to get the job.

A plant's production schedule is the primary focus of a planning supervisor.
A plant's production schedule is the primary focus of a planning supervisor.

Planning supervisors lead a staff of capacity planners. Manufacturing plants are responsible for many different industry products. The planning supervisor gains work experience in the field he or she wants to supervise before moving into the position. For example, a planning supervisor who works in the automotive parts field typically gains his or her work experience in a plant that manufactures automotive parts.

Communication and supervision are important elements of a planning supervisor's job. He or she must communicate with not only the planning staff, but also with engineers, members of management, and others involved in production. Part of effective supervision is knowing how to delegate responsibilities to capacity planners.

The ability to see the big picture is an important skill set for planning supervisors to possess. A production process contains many different steps. The supervisor must be able to view the process as a whole to determine whether it is on target to meet the production schedule. Careful evaluation and analysis help spot potential issues.

In addition to recognizing that a process is falling behind schedule, the planning supervisor is expected to know where the problem occurred. For example, if the assembly line falls behind in the number of parts ordered in a given week, he or she will recognize this and suggest overtime to plant management. Once the production has caught up, the planning supervisor lets management know it's time to cut back to regular hours.

Meetings to plan future production schedules are often attended by the planning supervisor. Previous schedules are examined and discussed. The supervisor makes suggestions about how previous problems can be avoided in the future. For example, if the last schedule fell behind due to the company failing to order enough shipping packages, a suggestion will be made to order more packages in the future.

Planning supervisors report to the plant manager or department head. They usually work in an office with access to the manufacturing floor. In most cases, planning supervisors work as employees at companies rather than as contractors.

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