Software Solutions

8 essentials

By Mike Melzer, Global Shop Solutions

Above: Daily productivity reports help identify problem areas so companies can quickly take corrective action.

Customers expect fast turnarounds, competitive pricing and on-time delivery, all of which require a variety of capabilities

February 2022 - Manufacturing elements are inextricably linked to each other, and low performance in one area negatively impacts all others. The “Great 8” essentials consist of the following:

• Move parts through the shop quickly and efficiently. Having access to real-time production data facilitates fast, efficient movement of jobs through the shop floor. Developing schedules based on true capacity allows jobs to get started and completed on time. Machinists know which jobs to work on now and next, and having the right inventory on hand avoids delays. Electronically importing CAD/CAM, nesting and customer data eliminates time-consuming double data entry. When bottlenecks occur, the data indicates why it’s happening, allowing managers to take prompt action.

• Schedule and deliver on time. Instead of “safe” due dates, achieve the ability to tell customers when jobs will be complete and be confident they will be delivered on time.

• Know your costs. Accurate job costing is one of the most important activities in a manufacturing business, affecting everything from estimating and quoting to cash flow. Knowing your costs improves estimating and quoting accuracy and lets you generate sales and work orders in minutes rather than hours.

• Maintain accurate inventory. Knowing exactly what you have in inventory and where eliminates the need to hunt for parts before starting a job.

• Control your labor costs. Daily productivity reports help identify problem areas and trend variances so corrective action can be taken before a problem takes over. Accurate scheduling reduces overtime costs because jobs get completed on time. Downtime costs decline because shop floor personnel always know which job they should be working on.

• Get quality right. Track, measure and analyze the sources of quality problems.

• Serve customers the way you want. In today’s mobile manufacturing environment, fast, responsive customer service creates a real competitive advantage.

• Grow sales. As a manufacturing business, the ability to deliver on your promises is your biggest selling point. When you give customers a due date and follow through every time, it builds trust. When you deliver quality parts on time every time, sales increase.

FFJ 0222 software image1

Having access to real-time production data facilitates fast movement of jobs.

Falling short in even one of these areas can affect a manufacturer’s ability to deliver. And problems in several areas make it difficult to compete against peers that achieve all of them on a consistent basis. Ongoing struggles with scheduling mean on-time delivery rates suffer. Inability to accurately determine costs can cause lost business. If shop floor personnel can’t count on having the correct inventory on-hand, jobs get delayed, costs increase and due dates are missed.

The biggest reason companies fail to attain the Great 8 is that they’re using outdated manual data collection to manage the shop floor—handwritten timecards, manual spreadsheets and tracking inventory by hand. If sales reps are frequently walking down the shop floor to hand-count parts in inventory before confirming a job, it’s difficult to efficiently serve customers. And, when the same problems occur repeatedly, frustration increases, tempers can rise, and a culture of blame rather than accountability takes over.

Pieces in place

A manufacturing shop floor is like a jigsaw puzzle. All the different pieces must come together at the right place and the right time to get the job done. Each element of the Great 8 represents a key piece in the manufacturing puzzle. If even one is missing, there’s a big hole in the puzzle.

Achieving the Great 8 starts with proper ERP software. Global Shop Solutions’ offering is designed for small to midsize manufacturers and digitally tracks, measures and organizes performance data, providing shop floor visibility for all critical aspects of the shop.

Automating manual processes enables all employees to work more efficiently and become more productive. Costs and waste decline while sales, margins and product quality go up. Everything comes together in one integrated system so that users really can deliver a quality part on time every time.

Global Shop Solutions can provide a package of more than 25 software applications. Some of the most used are Planning & Scheduling, Inventory, Job Costing Accounting, Quality Control, Shop Floor Data Collection, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management.

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Efficient scheduling reduces the time spent putting out fires on the shop floor, allowing more time to focus on generating new business.

These applications are able to fully automate processes like scheduling and managing multiple jobs, with accommodations for last-minute adjustments; automatically assign the correct cost to all labor, parts and materials that go into a job; provide real-time inventory data and complete traceability of parts; measure estimated versus actual labor; manage quality documentation; and link technical drawings and job spec sheets to routers; attach inspection and gauge calibration documents to work orders; and couple imported CAD/CAM .pdf files with specific part numbers.

ERP software provides a complete business management system designed to increase sales. Scheduling jobs more efficiently lowers setup and labor costs, improves throughput, maximizes capacity, and increases on-time delivery. These outcomes improve estimating and quoting, and efficient scheduling also reduces the time spent putting out fires on the shop floor, allowing more time to focus on generating new business and increasing sales.

For those struggling to grow sales, ERP might be the tool that runs the shop floor so company leaders can focus on developing new ideas, new products and new customer relationships. FFJ

Mike Melzer is vice president of operations for Global Shop Solutions and is a 20-year veteran of the company.


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