How do you get fat-finger entries in your timesheets? By not using barcode scanners!
And fake entries. And useless information that consumes valuable human effort to obtain. That all comes from traditional keyboard and mouse, on traditional workstations with timesheet software. Or even on paper timesheets.
In fact, those paper timesheets are the worst. Employees fill them out on Friday, but can’t remember what they worked on yesterday. Why would you use them? Because your employees can figure them out pretty easily. Okay, that makes sense. But there are other ways to collect time on the shop floor.
It turns out, there’s a much faster way to collect employee time on the shop floor. With barcode scanners. Watch this video, then give it a try yourself.
Manufacturing engineers need to know the number of items produced on their assembly lines. They also will know the time spent by employees to produce those items.
So… how do you get that? (watch this video, then scroll down for more)
You get that information with barcodes.
You put a barcode scanner in the hands of every employee, put a tablet on the bench, and have them scan the quantity of items produced when they “clock in” on jobs. Now you have both the time they worked and the number of items produced on the shop floor.
You can now compute:
The time it took to produce each item
The total items produced on a shift
The total items produced for a client
The total items produced per month, or for all time
You also know:
Which employee statistically produces the most
Which jobs are most efficient
Which assembly lines or production techniques are the most efficient
Which steps produce the most product in the shortest amount of time
Try this on the production line: scan your quantities for a month. Make one small change in the technique. Scan for another month and compare. Which production technique is most effective? Keep repeating this, each time looking at the average time per item. When that number goes down, you know you have landed upon an improvement worth keeping.
That is how you shave off 1% manufacturing time. And that is how 1% becomes 10% over time.
Standard Time® is how it is done on the shop floor.
Ever wonder what things you can scan during the manufacturing process? Here’s a quickie video for you. It’s not a tutorial on barcode scanning, just a survey of things you can scan. Scroll down below the video for a list.
Things you can scan on the shop floor:
Task status and completion flag
Unique items for your business
Got another thing you want to scan in your mfg shop? Have you tried the “Required Scans” option? That let’s you craft a custom scan to collect unique values for your manufacturing KPI’s and status. Scripts are another possibility to extend the built-in scanning capabilities of Standard Time. Just scan a script name and let it perform and database, email or web interaction you need. You will need IT support for script writing. They can be complex, but they are also very flexible and wide in their scope. You can do just about anything in scripts.
Have you ever wanted to pull your time and expense data into Excel for analysis? Now you can, with the XLST Excel Add-in. (scroll down for a video)
XLST is a new Excel add-in that pulls timesheet and project management data from your Standard Time® timesheet, and puts the results into Excel spreadsheets. It uses Excel formulas to extract timesheet data, and places the results into a single cell. In fact, the XLST functions act exactly like any other Excel function. They take “parameters” from other cells and use that data to get results.
What kinds of results can you get?
You can query the Standard Time database for all the actual work entered by employees. Or, you could query for all the expenses. Or all time off taken by employees. Or the hours available for time off.
Here is a partial list, which might spark your imagination:
Just click in an empty cell and then click the function icon near the formula line. Then choose XLST as the category. You’ll see all the functions listed above. Each one takes different parameters. Many parameters are optional, so you can quickly get results right away.
You must start by downloading Standard Time from the stdtime.com website, and then connecting it to SQL Server. XLST requires SQL Server or SQL Express. Once ST is connected to SQL, then you can download and install XLST.
Watch the video below to learn how Eversight Vision (an eye bank) uses Standard Time® to track the amount of time cornea tissue is being handled by lab technicians. Every second counts!
Essentially, lab techs scan a barcode when cornea tissue is removed from refrigeration, and scan again when returned. The codes record which procedure is performed. They now know how long tissues are out of refrigeration, how long each procedure takes, how long each employee worked on cornea tissues, and which employee “touched” them last. Ahhh! Somebody touched my eye! 🙂
All kidding aside, that’s a lot of great information, just by scanning a barcode label.
This is especially the same process any manufacturing or assembly operation uses. You must measure before you can improve. How long are employees spending on each product? How long are products in each stage? What state is a given product at any time? Where is it? Who handled it last? When will it be finished? Those questions can best be answered by scanning barcode labels and recording time spent on them.
Watch the video and determine if this type of process would benefit you. Then download.
I don’t know how to get those pesky serial numbers to show up while barcoding! I need to track time to serial numbers on my widgets, but how? Where do the serial numbers show up in your time tracking app? Are they projects or tasks? How do I even start?
Start by watching the video! (scroll down)
Then, consider creating projects for serial numbers you’ll be scanning many times over a long period of time. Or, consider creating tasks for serial numbers you’ll only scan for a few days or weeks. It all depends on what the serial numbers and barcode labels represent.
In the end, you’ll get the same employee hours in the timesheet, and time logs in your reports. You’ll see how many hours each employee spends on your projects and tasks. You’ll see how much time was spent on each product. On each kind of work. On each step of the manufacturing process. All that information makes your process more efficient, and cost effective.
Here’s the basic process you will follow:
Scan an employee name
Scan a task name (representing a serial number on one of your widgets)
The timer will start
Perform the task
Scan username again
Scan the word STOP
That basic exchange collects a lot of information:
How long the employee worked
How long the project took to manufacture, assemble, box, and ship
How long each serial number took
How many times you touched the product
Who touched the product
When they touched the product
How much time you’re spending on each kind of work
Here’s a quick “report” that prints barcode labels for a selected project and all its tasks. Comment on the video below, and let us know what you think!
We use the word report in quotes because its not really a report. Instead, it’s the barcode labels for any given project. That’s not really a report, right?
But you may find this useful if you’re tracking time in manufacturing or assembly. Start by scanning your employee name. Then scan the project name followed by the task. A timer will start to record your employee jobs.
Scan the word STOP to stop the timer. Now you have time logs with start and stop times. Lots of them! You’ll see scans come into the system in real-time. Now you can use them for all your wonderful reasons. Here are some to consider:
Learn how much time each employee works
Learn how long projects actually take to produce (rather than guessing)
Get actual time for each task of a project
Find out how long each product takes to manufacture and ship
Compare manufacturing time to admin time (what percentage is each)
You can use your smartphone for tracking time and expenses. The information goes directly to your boss. Well sort of. 🙂
It goes up to the cloud or desktop, depending on how you sync your time and expenses.
Is that better?
The good thing is that your Android or iOS time tracking app syncs with something. It gets data from the phone to your on-premise database. Just give it a URL to sync with, and any records you enter will automatically be sent.
That means you can track time anywhere. Even in the office. Think about that… you can pull out your phone and track project time, even in a meeting, or in front of your computer. You don’t to touch a keyboard if you don’t want to.
Make invoices your own with Standard Time®. Put your company logo, company style in every invoice sent out to clients.
Scroll down to watch the video
Invoice templates in ST at simple RTF documents. That means you can edit them any way you like. Open them in your favorite word processor and go to work! Add your logo, motto, corporate colors and style. Add anything you like. When you’re done, save it in the Invoices\Templates folder. Now you use it in ST.
Place these tags in your document to serve as placeholders for data.
Total, before taxes
Total, after taxes
Percentage of tax on goods and services
Date the invoice was produced
Purchase order number
NET30, or other payment terms
The project this invoice was billed against
The subsystem this invoice was billed against
The user the time and expenses belonged to
Note to display on the invoice
Starting date range for time and expenses
Ending date for time and expense records
A pre-built block that describes all the time logs
Pre-built block of expense records
Federal tax id of the consulting firm
Address of consulting firm
Client name and address, displayed anywhere you like
That is the question…to cloud, or not to cloud? I recently read an article by Sarah Fister Gale, found here: http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Publications/PMN0312%20cloud.ashx
It is interesting how many people go to the cloud without knowledge of security, back-up, redundancy, and so forth. There is little doubt that the cloud has many positive attributes. That is why cloud usage continues to experience robust growth. However, too often people just assume the cloud is a magical solution with hardly any issues. Well, that is normally the case…unless you happen to be my brother-in-law. His company was utilizing a cloud hosted credit card processing service. And things were great for nearly two years, until the cloud server went down and there was no back-up plan in place. It took 3 days of hand wringing and lost sales to get back online. In addition to immediate lost revenue, he lost long term customers. The article above will certainly give you an idea on specific questions one should ask and a basic outline to help you make a solid choice for your cloud solutions.