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.
Engineering and manufacturing go together, as shown in the video below. You can’t do the milling and molding without the up-front planning. So what tools do you have for that?
If you want a project management tool for both engineering and manufacturing, consider Standard Time®.
Not only do you get task lists, task planning, project management for the engineering side, you also get the manufacturing execution software for the actual product production and assembly. Design engineers plan their projects, track their time, and complete the product development phases. Manufacturing engineers plan the execution. And finally, operators on the shop floor track the actual hours consumed in each task. Now compare what you’re actually getting on the floor with expectations.
Barcodes and RFID’s collect actual manufacturing hours, which show up on your project planning dashboards. You get instant feedback from the floor.
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.
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!