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.
Time stamps for when jobs start and stop
Employees who work on jobs
The actual work order number for each time segment
The client the job is for
A department where the work was performed
A percentage of completion
Inventory and expense usage
Bill of material usage
Here is an infographic that shows 16 things you can collect with 4 barcodes:
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 stdtime.com. It’s called Standard Time®.
But first, get a look at the video below. It’s good.
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:
A new expense item is added to the list in Standard Time
The inventory item (for that expense) is deducted
You now can easily track expenses incurred and inventory along with time.
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!
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.
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.
Employees may have different billing rates for each client. And when employees scan work orders on the manufacturing shop floor, you want the correct billing rates applied. In other words, clients should be billed appropriately for each employee or kind of work performed.
Your welders likely bill out at different rates than your project managers. Maybe machinists and metal workers bill differently than material handlers. The point is, custom and bespoke work orders can use a mixture of billing rates. Those rates depend on the kind of work that goes into the job.
When you finally run the client invoice, you’ve got appropriate rates for everyone who contributed. And there’s nothing special you or your employees need to do. Just set up the rates once, and you’re good to go. Now employees just scan work order barcodes when they start and stop the job.
Project managers have to juggle jobs – what a concept! Many of the jobs have to be linked together. One job can’t start until another is finished. Sorry, that’s just the nature of engineering.
Wanna watch a video? See below.
Finish-to-start is the most common link dependency. It means, when one task finishes another can start. Or, another way of saying it is, one task cannot start until the previous one is complete. This kind of link dependency models real life. A roof cannot be put on a house until the foundation is laid and the framing is complete. That’s only natural. This kind of link dependency occurs in engineering all the time.
Standard Time® is a time tracking app for engineering. Not only does it have tasks and links, but it also has a timesheet with lots of ways to enter time. One of those ways is with barcode and RFID’s. Time gets entered automatically using devices like that. That’s usually done on the shop floor, for manufacturing applications. But you can enter time manually against your own tasks. Managers define those tasks, and they magically show up on engineer’s timesheets for manual time entry. It’s a pretty good system.
Now back to dependency links. When you set up a “finish-to-start” link, you are using task dates. This kind of link means that the starting date of the second task is linked to the ending date of the first. If you move the first task, it’s ending date changes. And, that automatically moves the second task because it’s start date is dependent upon the first task. Again, this models reality in no may ways.
This is perfect for scheduling tasks. You simply set the dates for the first task, and successors follow along like cars on a train. They get pushed and pulled automatically anytime a predecessor date changes. Let’s say you are building an electronic circuit board. The circuit schematic precedes the board layout. And both those tasks precede fabrication and assembly. You could represent this natural link dependency with several tasks, each having finish-to-start links.
Now that you have some tasks, and the dates are linked, you could begin entering actual hours for employees. Or better yet, have them enter their own hours, and in some cases, create their own tasks. The whole plan takes on a life of it’s own. Now you’ve got a real engineering scheduler and timesheet!
“My manufacturing employees work hard. But I really don’t know what they are doing! How can I find out?”
What a great question!
Consider using the “Employee Status” window on a big screen. It’s resizable and configurable enough for a 75″ big screen. Hang a big TV on the shop floor and display current status of every employee. That tells everyone what everyone else is working on. Or, if that information is secret, you can view it yourself in your own office. But again, consider hosting it on a separate monitor where you see status all the time.
And… as it turns out, there a similar screen for job status. As with the employee status screen, you can resize the job status window and set the font for viewing at a distance. You could also hang a big TV out on the shop floor just for job status.
So with the “employee status” and “job status” windows, you get two views of the same information. One is from an employee perspective. The other is from a job perspective.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just look up on a big screen and see the current status of all your work in progress? Sort-of like the airport “Arrivals” and “Departures” screens. Those screens are intended to inform you instantly, and then let you move on. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a screen like that on your manufacturing floor?
Watch the video below for an introduction.
Once you catch the vision for a screen like this, consider downloading Standard Time®. ST has a screen just like that. It has configurable columns to display just the information you’re interested in. Here are some to consider:
% Complete and % Status
Is the timer running for each job?
Hours spent so far
Cost incurred so far
Programmable key performance indicators
Put the WIP window on a 70″ LCD screen, so it can be viewed from a distance. Now everybody has shop floor status and can see the progress on their relevant work orders.