The manufacturing plan identifies the approach for duplicating a product configuration in a cost-effective manner. It is based on the results of detailed planning and analysis activities that have been conducted to define the optimum approach for product manufacture. Therefore, all actions that are required to produce, test, and delivered acceptable systems on schedule and at minimum cost should have been defined in the manufacturing plan. Hence, the materials, fabrication flow, time in process, tolls, test equipment, plant facilities, and personnel skills are described and integrated into a complete sequence and schedule of events. It is essential that both prime contractor activities and subcontractor activities are included in the sequence and schedule of events.
A manufacturing plan is usually submitted as a contract data requirement at the end of the FSD contract, or early in Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Such an approach encourages late planning for product manufacture and precludes tradeoffs between manufacturing process alternatives and product design configurations. This late planning causes many "surprise" product redesigns for producibility. Manufacturing planning concurrent with the product redesign process will preclude most product redesign efforts for producibility considerations that would otherwise be revealed after LRIP begins.
Manufacturing planning activities that should be
accomplished before LRIP include:
- Estimate manufacturing resource requirements
- Schedule definition
- Personnel requirements
- Make or buy decisions
These five areas at a minimum should be addressed in the manufacturing
The manufacturing processes and procedures translate into requirements for
tooling, capital equipment, and plant facilities. Accurate definition of those
requirements demands a detailed translation of a product's physical and
functional characteristics into a set of manufacturing processes and
procedures. Both design and manufacturing engineering involvement during FSD
is essential in accomplishing this translation. Since the product design
configuration has a direct influence on the manufacturing processes and
procedures, determination of manufacturing resource requirements should be
accomplished early in FSD with a firm commitment to the availability of those
resources before the product design configuration is frozen.
The schedule presented in the manufacturing plan should provide assurance that the necessary resources will be available when needed, that no resources will be overloaded or expended during execution of any manufacturing tasks, and that product delivery dates are indeed achievable. The details of the entire project schedule should be the top level planning baseline. Lower tier schedules should be developed for all manufacturing activities, with special attention to those having potential impact on the product delivery schedule (in terms of either quantity of time). Some examples of areas that may impact product delivery schedule are: engineering release; material procurement; tool design, fabrication, and prove-out; test equipment (particularly software related) prove-out; and capital equipment procurement. Examination of the schedule of manufacturing activities, and the schedules for material procurement and delivery of subcontracted items, coupled with the use of a manufacturing flow diagram (also included in the manufacturing plan) displaying both material quantities and schedules, are useful in determining if the manufacturing approach is low risk in terms of schedule.
The number of personnel, the specific skill types, and the ability of the contractor to meet these requirements should be defined. Personnel plans should be consistent with the planned personnel loadings to ensure that adequate skill types and quantities are available and maintained. The stability of the current work force, the contractor's ability to attract and retain personnel in the specific skill types necessary for product fabrication, and the types of training and certification programs used to maintain work skill levels, should be readily assessable using the information presented in the manufacturing plan, and information obtained through onsite surveys.
A make or buy plan establishes the distribution of effort between the prime contractor and subcontractors. The percentage of weapon system components that are subcontracted can be as high as 80 percent. The make or buy approach used in product manufacture can have a tremendous impact in cost schedule risk. Therefore, the make or buy plan should be addressed in sufficient depth for evaluation. The impact of in-plant loadings on the prime contractor's overhead rates should be visible in the make or buy selection of the manufacturing plan. Specific attention should be given to the make or buy decisions since there may be differences between overall contractor goals in structuring make or buy decisions and the goal which the government might consider appropriate for the specific project.
The facility includes all plant and capital equipment necessary to accomplish product manufacture. Therefore, a facility plan should be addressed in the manufacturing plan. The planning approach should show the material flow within the plant from the stock room to the shipping dock. In-process storage time represents a significant cost burden to the manufacturing operation. Analysis should be provided to determine that in-process storage and material transit time will be maintained at a minimum level. For batch manufacturing operations (i.e., more than one product type is manufactured on the product line), analysis should be evident that ensures that sufficient plant capacity exists to sustain the product at the required production rates, given the projected demands of all other projects using the production line. Finally, plant requirements including power, special test and handling equipment, clean rooms, and storage and handling of hazardous or explosive material should be identified. Analysis should be presented indicating that all plant requirements necessary for product manufacture are accommodated.