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Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. They coordinate, plan, and direct the activities used to create a wide range of goods, such as cars, computer equipment, or paper products. Almost 80% of industrial production managers work in manufacturing industries.
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Industrial production managers typically do the following:
Depending on the size of the manufacturing plant, industrial production managers may oversee the entire plant or just one area of it. They are responsible for carrying out quality control programs to make sure the finished product meets a prescribed level of quality. They generally choose from a number of programs that are standard in manufacturing industries, such as ISO 9000 or Six Sigma. These programs help a manager identify defects in products, identify the cause of the defect, and solve the problem creating it. For example, a manager may determine that a defect is being caused by parts from an outside supplier. The manager can then work with the supplier to improve the quality of the parts.
Industrial production managers work closely with managers from other departments. For example, the procurement (buying) department orders the supplies that the production department uses. A breakdown in communication between these two departments can cause production slowdowns.
Just-in-time production techniques mean that companies keep inventory low, so communication among managers in each department and suppliers is important. They also communicate with other departments, such as sales, warehousing, and research and design, to assure the company's success.
Most employers require industrial production managers to have a bachelor’s degree and two-to-five years of related work experience. Most have a degree in business administration or industrial engineering.
At large plants, where managers have more oversight responsibilities, employers may look for managers who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a graduate degree in industrial management.
Some managers begin working at a company directly after college or graduate school. They spend their first few months in training programs, becoming familiar with the production process, company policies, and safety regulations. In large companies, many also spend short periods of time working in other departments, such as purchasing or accounting, to learn more about the company.
Some industrial production managers begin as production workers and move up through the ranks. They first advance to a first-line supervisory position before eventually being selected for management. Most get a university degree in business management or take company-sponsored classes to increase their chances of a promotion. Production managers who join a firm immediately after graduating from college sometimes work as first-line supervisors before beginning their jobs as production managers.
Industrial production managers split their time between the production area and a nearby office. When they are working in the production area, they may have to wear protective equipment such as a helmet or safety goggles.
Most industrial production managers work full time, and many work long hours. In some facilities, managers work night or weekend shifts and must be on call to deal with emergencies at any time of day.