Basic Barcode Setup for Mfg, Scanning on the Shop Floor

This video shows how to set up barcode scanning for manufacturing on the shop floor. (scroll down for video)

It is so easy to begin tracking time for employees on the shop floor. Just slap a barcode scanner in their hands and ask them to scan their work orders and tasks. Now that is a hundred and ten percent easier than filling out paper timesheets and yelling job status across the floor. Just scan and go.

Wait… what do employees scan?

Try scanning in this order:

  1. Scan your employee badge
  2. Scan the work order
  3. Scan the task you’re working on

That’s it! A timer will start, and you can begin your work. When you finish your task, scan these things:

  1. Scan your employee badge again
  2. Scan the word STOP

No the timer stops. You have just communicated the following things to your boss:

  1. When you started work
  2. How long you worked
  3. What job you worked on
  4. What task you worked on
  5. What client the work was for
  6. What department the work was done in
  7. What phase of the job was worked on
  8. How many times the job was touched
  9. How many tasks it took for the job
  10. The total hours accumulated on the job
  11. The percentage of completion for the job
  12. When the job is likely to be done
  13. And about a dozen other things you don’t readily think of

See how valuable this is? Just a few scans communicate a huge amount of information. Watch the video and give it a try.


Task Management and Resource Allocation

Use the technique in this video to know when your human and material resources are available for use. Actually, the video shows a bar graph of resource requirements for your projects. In other words… headcount. (how many employees you need for all your jobs)

Watch the vid, and then scroll down for more.

Resource requirements bar chart

In the video, you see a bar chart with numbers above each bar. They represent employees required to perform your jobs.

Gantt chart

You also see tasks being dragged around. That area is known as a Gantt chart. Actually, it’s an interactive Gantt chart, because you can browse over it, and click and drag.


Resource scheduling

That’s just a fancy term for employee planning. But project managers use the term “resource” because you may be planning more than just employees. You might be planning when to use trucks… or heavy equipment… or specialized tools. You can’t call those employees, so you need a generic term. That’s where the word “resource” comes from.


Task management

Again… another fancy term that just means telling your employees what to do. Setting out a basic  set of tasks for each job means you can assign them to people, and then see how many people are required for all your jobs. That’s what this resource requirements bar chart is all about. You can look out into the future and see how many people you need for all your jobs and tasks.


Why is this valuable to you?

Because your projects may get so numerous that you forget a few. Forgetting a project is not a big deal unless you book a few others in their place. Now you’re double-booking, and when it comes time to do the forgotten ones (that you now remember) the new ones are taking the same time slot. Oops!

A tool like this helps you to remember when you scheduled your jobs.


Tool Control For the Shop Floor

Standard Time® is not just for time tracking and project management. It’s also for tool control and accountability on the shop floor. Watch this video below for steps to scan barcodes to check tools out. Scroll way down…

Three scans will check a tool out, and assign it to an operator.

  1. Scan username (to tell which user is checking the tool out)
  2. Scan tool name (to tell which tool is being checked out)
  3. Scan CHECKOUT (to perform the operation)

Those three scans assign a tool to an operator on the shop floor. Now the tool is under their care, and is assumed to be returned in the same state it was taken. This is the basics of tool accountability for manufacturing and factory floor use.

Here’s how to check a tool back in:

  1. Scan username
  2. Scan tool name (this shows the date/time you originally checked the tool out)
  3. Scan CHECKIN

After checking a tool back in, the actual hours between CHECKOUT and CHECKIN are added to the total. Now you know the total number of hours the tool was in use (approx). You can use this for PM purposes.


Barcode Expenses and Inventory

This video illustrates the process of creating expense records whenever inventory items are scanned on the shop floor. (scroll down for video)

So what, you ask…

So, that mean you have a record of every item you ever scanned. Actually, every item that every employee has ever scanned.

Think about that…

That means you are not only managing inventory effectively, but you are also collecting huge amounts of data you can use to your advantage. You are deducting inventory items from stock, which means you can reorder and replenish at appropriate times. Of course that’s good. But having a record of every scan is huge. Absolutely huge. Think of what you could do with that.

You might not know exactly what it costs you to build bepoke and custom products. Now you do.

You might not know what materials employees are using. Now you do.

You might not know the percentage of labor verses materials that go into manufactured good. Now you do.

Hmm… scanning inventory is not such a bad idea!

Now watch this video and find our website. Quick!

Work Orders and Data Collection

Most bespoke and custom manufacturing shops start with work orders. Every job has one, or it has some unique title that designates and identifies it on the shop floor. This video describes how you can collect data for those work orders or unique identifiers.

scroll down for the video

A simple barcode scanner is all you need to collect interesting data.

But what can you collect? Here are some possibilities, but the list is endless, and depends upon what you want to collect. Just about anything is possible.

  1. Time stamps for when jobs start and stop
  2. Employees who work on jobs
  3. The actual work order number for each time segment
  4. The client the job is for
  5. A department where the work was performed
  6. A percentage of completion
  7. Inventory and expense usage
  8. Bill of material usage

Here is an infographic that shows 16 things you can collect with 4 barcodes:


KPIs for Work In Progress

Display your Key Performance Indicators for all employee’s to see. Put them up on a big screen, like you see at the airport when you’re checking your departure gate.

KPI’s belong on a big screen with big fonts. They should be visible from fifty feet away. That way everyone sees them and they become ingrained into the working mentality of the organization.

“We improve these numbers, or we go home!”

The way you do that is to first measure, then display, then change. Then repeat. That is how you compete. And that is why you need barcode time tracking and a means to display your results. You can download all that right now at It’s called Standard Time®.

But first, get a look at the video below. It’s good.


Scan Expenses on the Shop Floor

As it turns out, Standard Time® is not just for project and time tracking. You can scan expenses on the manufacturing floor, which deduct items from inventory. (see video below) Here’s how it works:

First, set up an expense template that represents something you use a lot. That template has all the predefined fields for cost categorization. It also has a link to an inventory item that is deducted when the expense template is scanned on the factory floor.

Now scan that expense template name. Two things happen:

  1. A new expense item is added to the list in Standard Time
  2. The inventory item (for that expense) is deducted

You now can easily track expenses incurred and inventory along with time.


Track Time For Manufacturing

Time is a precious thing. Get extra time for your projects by finding problems and inefficiencies in manufacturing. We’ll show you how. Check out this video below.

Here’s the deal. If you’re not tracking job times with a barcode or RFID, you cannot know the exact hours you’re spending on them. Of course you probably have a pretty good guess, sort of like your checking account balance. And that probably works as a mediocre solution. But if you ever expect to eek out small percentages of improvement (which add up to bigger percentages) you will have to track the exact start and stop times. You can’t do that with paper timesheets or verbal communication.

Why not buy a twenty dollar barcode scanner and give this a try.

You may find that employees on the shop floor find it much faster to scan barcode labels than fill out timesheets or trying to remember how long jobs took. Just bleep, bleep, bleep, and you’ve got exact times for each employee, work order, and task. Now you can bring that into Excel and run the numbers. Find inefficiencies, and repeat. Simple!

Here’s a video to inspire you.


Key Performance Indicators in Mfg

Manufacturing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are custom calculations that are meaningful to your organization, and signify a position of success. In other words, when you view the results of your calculations, you’re looking for results that tell you you have either failed or succeeded.

Example: Avg Work Order hours: 38
Failed: Above 40
Success: Below 35

In this example, you’re somewhere in between failure and success. You are averaging 38 hours to build the average work order. Anything above 40 hours (in this example) is unsustainable. Anything below 35 hours is great! But in all likeliness, you may have a few bad samples that are skewing the results. So, you’re probably good. But still, it’s time to dig in and find out what’s going on. Which projects are taking so much time? Which employees had a hard time completing the jobs? What circumstances led to the “above 35” results? Maybe it’s an anomaly, or maybe it’s real. You won’t know until you dig into the actual time logs to find out.

Microsoft® Excel® is a good tool to calculate manufacturing KPI’s. You can bring your time tracking data in from Standard Time® and compute the exact success/fail scenarios that are meaningful to you.

It turns out that you can also use scripting in Standard Time to compute KPI’s to be displayed on the Work In Progress screen. (That’s a big display that shows the status of every project on the shop floor.) You custom KPI computations will display next to each job on the big WIP screen. You’ll be able to look up on the big screen and see if you’re achieving success on each job.

The video below describes the basics of manufacturing key performance indicators. Watch it for inspiration and a starting point. The next step might be to download Standard Time, and get started. And then we’ll help you get where you want to be.

Talk to you after the video!


Work In Progress Android App (WIP)

Now you can get job status on your phone. Introducing the Work In Progress Android app, by Scoutwest, Inc.

Want to track progress of jobs and employees? Try the new Standard Time® Work In Progress Android app. The video below demonstrates.

You just set it up to pull data from the Standard Time Web Edition or Windows Edition. It syncs every 15 minutes. You have up-to-date info on the status of every job and employee working on them. Find out which jobs are taking too long. See when employee timers are not running, or running too long. And get a list of every time log in the system. Keep track of jobs right on your phone. Get notifications when project events occur.

Events the app shows notifications for:

  • Employee timers are not running
  • Employee timers are running too long
  • Projects exceed a specified percentage

Notification: Employee timers are not running

This notification helps make sure everyone is working. If an hour passes, and employees are not tracking time, the app notifies you. (You set the threshold) You see the last time they worked, and the job they worked on. You can check in with them to determine status, and encourage them to restart the job.

Notification: Employee timers running too long

This notification helps catch cases where employees forgot to stop a timer. You can go into the Standard Time desktop or web app and stop the timer, and reset the stop time. That helps ensure hours are correct.

Notification: Projects exceed a specified percentage

When jobs get out of control, you sometimes want to be notified. You set the percentage to be notified at. The app watches for too many hours, and pops up a standard phone notification when the percentage exceeds your setting. Now you can jump on the problem and make sure things get finished up and moving forward.


Don’t be tied to a terminal

This is another way to disconnect you from the desktop. Check project status anywhere, and be notified when something goes wrong.

Check out the video and give it a try!