Manufacturing process planning is the conceptualization of a process, from the raw materials through the finished stages. A manufacturer attempts to build in efficiency and cost-effectiveness at this stage.
Authors Hong-Chao Zhang and Leo Alting describe process planning as the “transformation of parts design specifications into operating instructions” for manufacturing.
Hong-Chao and Alting describe machining process planning as planning how each workpiece is produced—meaning, every single, discreet component (like the handle on a briefcase, a table leg or a valve stem on a tire).
Assembly process planning is concerned with assembly of components.
Manufacturing process planning generally aims at continuous flow of product, eliminating any unnecessary movement, waiting or storage. All of this drives up productivity and drives down the cost of goods sold.
Process engineers take several factors into account when they design a process for efficiency and lower cost. These include minimizing the number of component parts; designing for ease of handling and orientation; simplified assembly; achievable (and realistic) tolerances; and use of common and standardized parts and components.
Process planning generally involves the best possible technologies and good manufacturing practices (GMPs). Such a process is, presumably, based upon industry best practices of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Modern processes are therefore largely automated, computerized and high-speed.