How Distributed Work Gets Done in Manufacturing (Part 2)

Last week, we talked about how manufacturing has been operating under a distributed work force model for as long as manufacturing has been around.  Work progresses from one step to another and relies on everyone being just where they need to be.  It is not often that one person completes all steps of production, so you begin to rely on separate areas of the plant or the work force to get the job done. 

We covered the first question every person in a manufacturing plant needs to know: what am I supposed to be doing right now?  We could go much deeper into that, exploring why the work is important or how to prioritize the day’s queue, but we are staying a bit broad on this.  Quite frankly, if you don’t have the information readily available to answer the questions about what each person is supposed to be doing, there is no likelihood that you can tell them why or in what order they should progress. 

Today, we’re talking about the second question that is on their minds.  Or should be.  Where are the resources that I need to get that work done?  Resources, in this sense, could be the materials and parts, machines, tools or time.  How does each member of the production team get what they need to get the work done? 

Whether you are operating with a schedule (typically on Excel and woefully inadequate for complex manufacturing) or a whiteboard (typically with magnets and stickies), you know approximately the order that the work should be done.  Or at least you believe you do.  We could easily argue that without that digital schedule that we discussed last time, you can only make the right decision once or twice per day, at the start of the shift.  Everything moves after that. 

So where are the items I need?  Do you have enough?  Does each of your employees have the right to go and get what they need or do you bring it to them?  Each operator on your shop floor will make their way through the day finding the materials and parts that they need to get the job done.  It’s what they do.  They are some of the most resourceful people, as they are measured on product out-the-door safely so they want to get it done. 

Let’s focus here on the macro view instead.  Going back up to the executive level, do you actually have the resources you need to get the job done?  Where are they?  What are they doing right now and is it contributing to that out-the-door number in a positive, negative or neutral way? 

With a system that knows not just what you have (think inventory count or employee list here) but what those people and machines are capable of, you are maximizing the work and truly have a handle on your productivity.  We want you to think of every item, person, dollar and hour that you have today (and every other day) as a resource that you are spending.  Perhaps you already have that question in mind? 

Your ERP cannot answer these questions for you.  Really, it can’t.  No ERP is equipped with the intelligence to know that a machine and person operate differently.  Where one has maintenance cycles, the other has break time.  Where one has set-up times, the other can multi-task across multiple machines in a single work cell.  The finesse that is required to actually run a production shop can only be handled by a system that was built to know these critical data points and track them every day.  A system to optimize production results including people, process and machinery.       

Moving from paper, or static information on displays, to a system, from an ERP with clock-on and -off jobs to a system that runs the actual nuances of production moves you from “where is my stuff at?” to “where are the specific resources that I need to get the work done that is required over the next 2 weeks and how will I source them to make sure they are located properly every day?” 

It’s the difference between guessing we will meet the schedules and controlling the schedules.  

 

In 2020, we are rolling out meaningful tools for manufacturers that are affordable, on-target and competitive.  We are also expanding our educational offerings.      

We believe in the critical importance of manufacturing right here in North America and we work hard to keep you working.  Ask us questions; you will find that we are far more reachable than other software providers you may partner with.  We are here to help you find the right tools and use them, whether it's a Google doc, an Excel sheet or a Production Control system.  To learn more about meeting your targets for 2020 or just getting a question answered, visit us at www.cimx.com.

 

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Topics: What is Paperless Manufacturing?, How can software improve manufacturing quality?, How is MES different than ERP and other software?, What is Smart Manufacturing?, How does software motivate process improvements?, How can you implement paperless manufacturing?

Written by Kristin McLane