Manufacturing leads take overall responsibility for the efficient operation of a company’s production resources. They may take other job titles such as manufacturing manager or director, or production manager or director, depending on the size and organizational structure of the company. Manufacturing leads have key responsibilities for quality and productivity, and they make an important contribution to overall cost control and profitability.
Resource allocation is an important responsibility for manufacturing leads. To complete a customer’s order or produce goods for stock, a manufacturing lead must decide which machines to use and how many production line workers to deploy. Manufacturing leads aim to use the minimum resources, while meeting production and delivery deadlines. At busy times, they may have to approve overtime necessary to meet urgent delivery dates or increase production levels. Manufacturing leads may also make decisions about outsourcing part of their production requirements to contract manufacturers that offer additional capacity or specialist capability.
Manufacturing leads may take personal responsibility for quality or liaise with a quality management team to ensure that product quality meets the standards customers expect. They monitor the quality performance of component and raw materials suppliers and ensure that production workers adhere to quality policies. Manufacturing leads take action to deal with quality problems so that they can minimize waste or reworking on the production line.
By improving efficiency and productivity, manufacturing leads ensure that they can meet production deadlines and reduce costs. They analyze manufacturing data to identify any production bottlenecks or eliminate unnecessary processes. They may work with production engineers to identify ways to improve the speed or accuracy of production equipment. They also liaise with training professionals to improve the skills production workers.
Manufacturing leads liaise with other departments. They work with the procurement team to ensure that supplies of materials and components are available when they are needed. They provide specifications for the procurement team and report on the quality and performance of the company’s suppliers. Manufacturing leads liaise with the sales team to build customer orders into the production schedule and to update them on delivery dates. They work closely with the warehouse and logistics team to coordinate inventory levels and production schedules or to plan deliveries to customers.
By controlling or reducing production costs, manufacturing leads help the company to offer competitive prices and maintain profit levels. They analyze different elements of production to identify potential cost savings. They may decide to automate certain processes and reduce labor requirements, or they may use alternative materials or supplies that cost less. They may also decide to outsource production to manufacturers that can meet quality requirements at lower cost.
Manufacturing leads generally hold a bachelor’s degree in business management or production engineering, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They require significant experience in production or quality management. Manufacturing leads must have good interpersonal skills to work with colleagues in other departments, as well as production workers and supervisors. They must have good analytical skills to interpret manufacturing data and understand production problems.