Job Spotlight: Operations Manager in Manufacturing

A career in operations management (OM) for a manufacturing organization can be both challenging and rewarding. Learning what the typical workday looks like can help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Find out what to expect in this detailed guide.

Duties of the Operations Manager

The operations manager of a manufacturing facility is responsible for a range of activities relating to the creation and delivery of products or services. While the traditional definition would likely have focused solely on physical goods, modern thinking usually includes services as well.

Specifically, the manager’s role is to produce the product or service at:

  • The right price, from the customer’s perspective
  • The correct amount
  • The best quality
  • The specified time of completion

Meeting these requirements to be successful in their position involves managing not only daily operations, as their title suggests, but also the design process, the strategy behind these activities, and determining ways to improve on performance.

Thus, the major areas of responsibility are:

  • Designing an operations system
  • Managing operations
  • Improving operations

Taking a product from an idea through the manufacturing process to delivery to the customer involves many activities and many people. There’s no mistaking that OM is a distinguished career!

Why the Operations Manager Matters

The operations manager of a manufacturing facility is the person who connects people, activities, and equipment to provide the most value for the goods that are for sale. In this role, the person at the helm can drive the organization into a globally competitive space.

In a world where consumers have plenty of choice as to where they buy products and services, creating a value-laden product is vital for a manufacturing firm. To stay competitive globally, OM must consider:

  • Quality of the goods
  • Cost of the product to make
  • Purchase price for the customers
  • Flexibility of the operations
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Innovation of the product

All these dimensions hinge on the effectiveness of OM methods and technologies. Lean manufacturing techniques are more critical than ever, especially in the face of current challenges. Take the time to learn more about overcoming these obstacles in a future job in operations management.

Meeting competitive challenges is part of the job scope of the manager. Brainstorming and carrying out strategies to combat globalization and other issues is part of ensuring the future success of the organization.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement usually. Gaining an edge against the competition to get hired involves taking a specialized program, such as an Operations Management Degree from Kettering University Online.

As well, some managers seek advanced education in specialty fields, such as engineering, to give them detailed knowledge of the sector they work in. In addition to getting the educational background, practical work experience will help make someone more likely to get picked for the OM job.

Many professionals start their careers in a lower position within the organization. For example, they might work on the production line. This experience can qualify them to work in a more senior role later.

What Skills Make a Great Operations Manager?

As with a manager in any other field, a manufacturing operations manager must have good communication skills. They need to supervise teams, as well as explain processes and policy updates.

For a well-run manufacturing business, the manager of operations must be an effective leader. Their goal is to be supportive of those who need help but also to encourage those who are doing well to help them do even better:

A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” – Jim Rohn

Coordinating departments is also necessary. Only in this way can the organization ensure that processes are not redundant or ill-timed. Coordination is imperative, too, for quality control.

Managers must solve any problems that come up too, such as longer than normal production times, to help increase the organization’s productivity level. They must also adhere to any standards and processes set out by their employer.

The Planning Part of Operations Management

The decisions made in OM have the potential to impact a manufacturing organization for a long time to come. Managers must make decisions about the processes, with consideration of what their marketers want to achieve in the future.

For example, does the manufacturer want to be competitive cost-wise with their product or to be known more for exceptionally high product quality? Maintaining a high-quality standard may not be possible for a manufacturer who offers a large variety of products, just as a low-cost product may not be offered alongside a top-quality product.

The manufacturing operations manager also must decide where the facility will be located for making the goods and how to set it up safely. When planning where to set up the manufacturing plant, some key considerations are:

  • Whether there are skilled workers in the location
  • Will workers and their families enjoy living in this area?
  • Locations close to suppliers are favorable to minimize shipping costs
  • Facilities close to customers are advantageous too

Finding one location that meets all these criteria rarely happens, which is why it’s a decision that involves weighing the benefits against any faults with the physical area. Determining which item on the above list is the most important one to the business is a good starting point for picking the location.

Becoming an Operations Manager in the Manufacturing Industry

The overarching role of OM in the manufacturing sector is to transform materials and other resources into goods. A successful manufacturing process involves many key decisions on the part of the operations manager.

Building the skillset to be an effective operations manager for a manufacturing firm typically comes from a combination of education and experience. Specialized programs such as those available from Kettering can build expertise, as can on-the-job experiences.

In this career, a manager must overcome challenges and motivate teams regularly. It is a position that requires excellent communication and brings personal satisfaction at the end of the workday.

Supporting an organization, helping to achieve its mission, is what an operations manager dedicates their career to do, and it is an important role.