In the first 3 parts of this piece on the numbers you need to know in order to be effective at your manufacturing process, we covered the three most critical parts of calculating the run rate of your shop: your people, the work you need them to do and the machines that will do it.  Moving past this into the deeper question of how do you make manufacturing work, especially in the process of returning to working capacity, we look at order control.

Order control goes far beyond putting a piece of work on the shop floor.  We’ve talked about systems a lot in this blog series, but here, some systems fail.  Delivering a job packet is not enough to be able to control an order.  You need to know the finer points of the order to service it properly. 

An Order comes together when a customer, your customer, asks you to make one or more items for them.  This could be 5 of one particular thing (easy) or five different things (more difficult).  Directions for one piece of work, multiplied by more volume means get more supplies, do more work and keep going.  Making 5 different parts requires a coordination that goes far beyond “get me more of those.” 

This kind of coordination is something akin to juggling.  Figuring out what machines are required for each step in the process and what order you should send the work around to make sure that it all gets done as quickly as possible sounds like an exercise for an AP Statistics class, but make no mistake, it’s what you should be doing every day if you’re trying to make money in manufacturing. 

Can you really tell me that you or your shop knows how long each operator will need to get each job done at each machine and has figured out which step should be completed first to enable the rest to get done in the “right” order to make the schedule work?  Impossible, I tell you. 

Generally speaking, the shop team gets a list of orders and posts it on a board.  They may even have a target for the day.  “Yesterday we made 15 of these.  Today, we need to hit a higher target.  #16.”  Each work cell gets piles of materials throughout the day that need to be worked on, but by whom and by when?

“When you get around to it” has got to be the answer.  Without a system, and we’re not talking magnet boards or Excel spreadsheets here, you cannot even guess at the way to do the work.  You just do it.  Put your head down, dive in and get it done.

If you find that you’re doing this, perhaps we can help.  We have tools that we can recommend and even process reviews where we help you improve what you’re currently doing with the toolsets that you have.  Ask us.  We’re always here. 


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