How are you billing clients for the work orders that pass over your manufacturing floor? In most low-performing companies, it’s a loose informal process. They sort-of know how much time was devoted to each work order, and billing occurs on the sparse information at hand. Maybe that’s a good guess, or maybe the operators on the floor are writing down (most) of their time, or maybe it’s just a flat fee agreed upon earlier. (Check out this YouTube video below.)
That’s the low-performers. How about you?
That’s not you. You are using Standard Time® and pulling actual time records off the shop floor using barcodes. You’re getting exact time and materials. Each time segment is timestamped four times, and contains the employee, job, and task. Each inventory item is also scanned and deducted from inventory, and included on the client invoice. Your invoices are about as precise as they can be. That means you are collecting all the revenue due you.
Serious… it all starts with a simple barcode scanner. Once you start scanning work orders on the shop floor everything changes. Your whole outlook on client billing changes. Your processes change. Your inventory and ordering changes. The progression from low-performer to high is natural and simple.
Get a barcode scanner and change how you bill clients from the shop floor.
Everyone knows that Standard Time® is a time tracking app. But did you also know that it tracks inventory and bill of materials?
It does! (see the video below)
And it does it with barcode scanners. You’re probably familiar with the barcode time tracking capabilities. You scan usernames, projects, and tasks. A timer starts, and you track manufacturing hours. Easy. But you can do the same thing with barcode labels and inventory items.
Create a label for the inventory SKU. Scan that label, and the inventory item is automatically deducted from stock. You can also scan the manufacturer’s SKU or the vendor SKU. Any of those will work the same. And when the quantity in stock is reduced below a preset value, the parts can automatically be reordered using scripts.
Scanning BOM’s are similar. In that case, the BOM lists all the inventory items for an assembly. When you scan the BOM label (or SKU) all the inventory items on that BOM are reduced from stock. And again, any inventory item that falls below the “reorder quantity” is automatically reordered using a script.
You may be wondering about reorder scripts. Those are special user-programmable scripts that send emails or contact websites for reordering inventory. You must program these reorder scripts yourself, which often involves the IT department.
Even the simplest manufacturing shops can be automated with a few simple additions. Those additions start with these items:
Barcode labels on everything
Tablets on the shop floor
Standard Time® time tracking software
If you slap barcode labels on everything, then you can scan them everywhere. Scan raw materials to subtract from inventory. Scan bill of materials when kitting parts. Scan products as they begin the build process. Scan them again as they pass each stage of improvement. And finally, scan them as they are boxed and shipped. Now you have just collected a huge amount of information without expending any extra human effort.
Congratulations! You have just automated your manufacturing shop!
Here’s what you can now expect:
Know when and where your work orders were started
Know who worked on them last
Know how much time has been spent so far
Know how long entire jobs take
Know where the bottlenecks occur
Know what waste to cut
Seriously? I get all that from a few barcodes? Yup!
The boss wants to know where the project is that was started last week.
What job? I don’t remember a job!
Ummm, look up, dude. It’s on the big screen! (watch the video below)
The big “airport” screen shows the status of all jobs on the manufacturing floor. Just scan a job with a barcode scanner, and it instantly shows up on the big screen. You’ll see the job name, the last time something happened on it, and who worked on it last. You’ll see project status, percent complete, and hours worked so far. You’ll even see how many hours are left before completion.
Turns out, the big airport-style screen can be helpful to a lot of people in the manufacturing organization. It’s really big for the guys on the shop floor, true. But also just as big for supervisors and managers. And, even sales folks who need job status they can communicate to their customers. They can just look up on the big screen, get the current status, and tell clients with the job is expected to finish.
Automatically reorder inventory using a barcode scanner. Watch the video below, and then try these steps on your shop floor:
Place a barcode label on your BOM (bill of materials)
Scan the BOM when you start work
Each item in the BOM will be deducted from inventory
Optionally scan a task to start tracking time to the job
Complete the work
Scan STOP to stop the timer
Step #2 and #3 (which are really the same step) may kick off automate scripts to reorder inventory that has fallen below a predefined threshold. Those inventory items may appear at your receiving dock as a result of that reorder. Scan them to add them back into inventory.
Update your manufacturing shop using barcodes. Track jobs, work orders, inventory, tasks, employees, etc. The list goes on. Take look at the video below for details.
A simple tablet can help track all the items you care about on the shop floor. Just tap and scan. Now you are collecting time for every product, every employee, and every kind of work. You’re also making sure inventory doesn’t fall below critical levels.
Even a simple $99 Walmart Nextbook can be used for barcoding. Just mount it securely so it cannot be handled and broken. Hook a wireless barcode scanner to it. Now employees can scan in when they start manufacturing tasks.
After watching this video, here is another link to a YouTube video for the Nextbook:
Follow the steps in the video below to deduct items from inventory when you scan them on the shop floor. When manufacturing products, you want more than just time tracking. Standard Time® is primarily a time tracking product. But if you’re working with inventory or bill of materials, you’ll also want to scan them.
The steps in this video will help deduct items from inventory when you scan inventory items or BOM’s.
Add or subtract from inventory
It turns out that you can add inventory items back into stock. Let’s say you receive items on your receiving dock, and want to put them into stock. Or, you pull too many items for a pick list and don’t use them, and want to put them back into stock. In any case, you can scan a special barcode that adds to the “Quantity in stock” for any inventory or BOM.
BOM’s don’t have Quantity in stock
True. BOM’s don’t have quantities. Instead, each item on the BOM list has a quantity used for the bill of materials. When you scan a BOM, you are adding or subtracting all the inventory items on the list. And, you the quantity in stock is adjusted by the quantity on the BOM for each item.
For example, if you use 35 screws on a BOM, and you scan the BOM name, you are subtracting all 35 screws from inventory.
Automate the shop floor by reordering inventory automatically using barcodes. Standard Time® is a time tracking app. Employees can start timers with barcode scans. But they can also add and subtract from inventory with barcodes too. Just scan an inventory item, and the quantity in stock is deducted. (scroll down for a video)
Wonderful! But what’s all this stuff about automatically reordering inventory?
It turns out that after the quantity in stock is deducted, the software can automatically reorder or replenish using special scripts. A script is kicked off when the quantity in stock drops below the reorder quantity. In other words, there a level at which an inventory item should be reordered. And when the quantity in stock drops below it, a script is run that can perform that reordering task.
How to reorder parts with scripts
There are a lot of ways a script could reorder parts. It could simply send an email to a buyer (which is still sort of a manual process). Or, it could automatically contact a website and perform the actual purchase without any human intervention. The script could be given access to an order website, complete with login credentials, and be authorized to make automated purchases. Other methods of automated purchases might include database scripts or inserting database records. All these are in the realm of possibility for automated scripts.
Scanning BOM’s reduces quantities for all inventory items on the list
Not only can you scan individual inventory items, you can also scan a Bill of Materials (BOM). And when you do, all the inventory items on the BOM list are deducted. A BOM may use large numbers of each inventory item. When the BOM is scanned, those large quantities are all subtracted from inventory. For instance, a BOM may use fifty screws. Scanning the BOM would reduce inventory for the screws by fifty, but by scanning once.
Reorder verses Replenish
Some inventory items are not reordered; they are built in your own manufacturing shop. You might refer to this as replenishing inventory rather than reordering. But the same principles hold true when running automated scripts for inventory. A script could create a new work order that requests a certain number of items be manufactured. The script is run when inventory falls below a certain level, the work order is automatically created and sent to the shop floor. Workers fulfill the work order quantity, and scan the new items back into stock.
Scanning new items back into stock
Inventory can also be added to stock, not just deducted from it. There are special barcodes, as shown in the video below that instruct the software to add items back into stock. Once your parts arrive at the receiving dock, or are manufactured on your own shop floor, they can be scanned back into stock using special “ADD” barcodes.
Ever wonder what you could get from scanning barcodes on the shop floor? What are the advantages? Would it help your business? Is it worthwhile?
The video below shows sixteen things you get by scanning four barcodes. Here are the four barcodes you would scan to get these things:
Employee name again, after the task is finished
The word STOP
Can I use any of the sixteen results of barcode scanning?
Those four barcodes will give you at least sixteen results. Can you use all sixteen? Maybe. Can you use one or two of the sixteen? Quite likely. Which ones? Watch the video a few times, and write them down. Now you’re on the right track.
So you’ve decided you can use a few of these. Good. But how much time and money will they save? Well, the next question you’ve got to ask yourself is this:
How much of your process is manual?
In other words, can you replace some of your manual processes with automated ones? For instance, could you replace manual handwritten communication with scans? Could you replace verbal communication with a shop floor status window? Could you replace manual payroll entry with exported time logs? Could you replace verbal work order tasks with barcoded tasks?
The list goes on.
If you’re like most manufacturing or engineering shops, you can likely replace a dozen manual processes with automated ones. So… grab a notepad and start writing. Write down the manual things you do now. Then write down the automated results from this video. Now connect the dots. Watch the video ten times if you have to. But make sure you identify all your manual operations.