Process and Operation Planning
Process planning detennines how a product is to be manufactured and is therefore a key element in the manufacturing process. It plays a major part in detennining the cost of components and affects all factory activities, company competitiveness, production planning, production efficiency and product quality. It is a crucial link between design and manufacturing. In spite of the importance of process planning in the manufacturing cycle, there is no fonnal methodology which can be used, or can help to train personnel for this job. Process planning activities are predominantly labor intensive, depending on the experience and the skill and intuition of the planner, and therefore often precludes a thorough analysis and optimization of the process plan which nearly always results in higher than necessary production costs, delays, errors and non-standardization of processes. Process planning is regarded as an art and not a science. Research in the field of process planning has indicated that all experts have their own expertise and one expert's experience might be different from that of another. It is rare, therefore, for two planners to produce the same process. Each process will produce the part as specified, although different processes will result in different processing times and costs. The question is, who is an expert? By definition an expert is one 'having or manifesting the knowledge, skill and experience needed for success in a particular field or endeavor', or 'one who has acquired special skill in or knowledge and mastery of something'.