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Production control refers to the methodical planning, coordinating and controlling of activities along a production or assembly line. Production controllers perform these functions, usually with a focus on ensuring a timely and cost-effective process that produces goods of adequate quality. Although these controllers mainly work in manufacturing firms, others work in industries such as health care, hospitality and advertising.
Doing the Work
To perform their duties competently, production controllers need a combination of excellent problem-solving, time-management and analytical skills. For example, they use problem-solving skills to resolve a variety of production challenges, such as scarcity of raw materials, high energy costs and lack of skilled labor. Because productions timelines must be met, the controllers need time-management skills to manage production workers’ time efficiently. Production controllers also use analytical skills to identify effective ways of increasing production efficiency.
Production controllers develop schedules that clearly show the flow of work through various departments or workstations. The schedules also detail the type of activities to be performed at each station, expected completion time and number of workers required for the job. For example, a production controller working in an optical lab schedules the activities that take place along an assembly line, from setting up of machines and cutting glasses to mounting lenses in frames and packing finished eyeglasses in cases.
When production-based organizations hire new workers, production controllers train and allocate them tasks according to their competencies, skills and abilities. These controllers also maintain contact with suppliers to arrange for delivery of raw materials and write production reports highlighting the progress of work.
To become a production controller, earn a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering or mathematics. Although certifications are not mandatory for employment, you can secure the Association for Operations Management’s production and inventory management certification to boost your competency level. Earning a master’s degree in industrial project management can enhance your chances of becoming a production manager. In 2013, production, planning and expediting clerks, including controllers, earned a mean annual wage of $46,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Newly hired production controllers earn on average at least $26,040, while the most experienced make $70,420 annually.