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"Document and records management is important for labs, engineering companies,
attorneys, doctors, work in process documents in manufacturing - any company who needs to know the location
of a file or document."
Source : Dynamic Systems
How Manufacturers Use Technology to Help Weather the Economic Downturn
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Too often the manufacturers will implement technology for financial reporting purposes but
overlook efficiencies that can generate cash flow and reduce costs on the manufacturing floor.
Accurate information that provides a business owner or manager the ability to make immediate decisions
about his/her operation resulting in a boost to profitability is crucial during an economic downturn.
If revenue is down and the market mood does not permit price increases, then profitability can only
be realized by reducing costs. So you must ask yourself
"What prevents me from 100% efficiency?"
Focus on "Faster and Better". Every asset, machine, tool
and person you have must be accountable and cycle more quickly. An airline cannot survive when
planes are not in the air producing revenue. Your business cannot survive unless you know where
your assets are and how they can be used efficiently. Imagine being able to view where your tools
and equipment are at any moment so that you can plan to transfer them to the next job. How important
it is to locate a unique asset when it is required on another active job, avoiding any down time? What
if you knew exactly how many hours were spent on each step in the assembly process and where the bottlenecks were?
These situations and others cause accelerated costs and reduced productivity.
Take a Proactive Approach. Under normal circumstances a business
owner/manager will review financial (accounting) information, overhead and direct operating margin
at the end of a month or quarter. But these aren't "normal" circumstances. "Companies
must plan their destiny and not look in the rearview mirror!" stated Bill Allen of W.A.
"Instead of flying blind (until a workorder is completed) it's
time to operate from a plan. Understand what prevents you from 100%efficiency."
Buy-in Happens from the Top-Down. Start by developing a
culture that compels events to conform to your plan. Anything that deviates from the
plan is an opportunity for cost-savings and efficiencies. Do you have too much time
loss in non-direct labor areas (idle or down time)? By evaluating what interrupts the
workflow on a daily basis, you will uncover areas that with improvement will provide
an increased bottom line. It is up to the company to make a conscious decision to manage
from a plan rather than react to circumstances, and to hold all employees accountable for
following the plan. This transition will be easier if the technology tools available
today are adopted.
What technology can provide you the most reward? Evaluate your operations to
determine where your technology dollars are best spent.
Reduced Down Time. Can you reduce or minimize the time
spent looking for machines, tools and other assets or plan maintenance and calibration to avoid
machine down time? A tracking system using barcode will show where your assets are at the time
they are needed — who took them last or which job they were checked out to. An integrated
maintenance scheduler will flag required maintenance as it is due and assure OSHA compliance.
Do you make shrinkage unacceptable? Proper control of tools and inventory
prevents costs that result from hoarding, irresponsibility or downright theft. It is up to the company
management to declare that shrinkage is unacceptable and to hold employees accountable for losses that
are under their control. This policy is given "teeth" when you can effectively track your
assets and inventories using technology.
Can you identify bottlenecks in the production process — something that slows
Although you may not be aware of the bottlenecks in production, this is probably the single most
important variable. What are your capacities for output and what is the optimal load of people, machines
and tools to meet 100% capacity? How do you route the work to prevent idle or down time? A computerized
system that tracks labor hours to a specific function within the assembly process and on the fly will help
prevent these costly issues by identifying those points where workflow gets interrupted.
Does your staff spend unproductive minutes (or hours) manually recording
transactions? Manpower that goes into manual recording and recordkeeping does nothing to increase revenue
or control costs.Technology can provide the integrated systems control over asset use, capacity, maintenance,
location — and do it 24 x 7.
You don't have to be one of the "big guys" to afford technology. Today, systems
are available for a reasonable price that can help avoid many of the costs consumed by inefficiencies
in operations and can be purchased as stand-alone systems focused on one aspect of the business. The
decision where to start depends on what areas you find are losing the most money.
Time and Attendance: A Time and Attendance software package will tell
you who is working when on what job for how long, and produce reports for payroll. It can be set up to
automatically account for start and end times, breaks, lunch, etc. to reduce the time your employees spend
recording their time, and barcode scanning makes the input fast and easy.
Job Costing: The Job Costing software adds the ability to track inventory costs plus the labor hours
consumed against the specific job while the job is in progress.
Work in Process (WIP): WIP software is a subset of Job Costing, and tracks
a specific work order through the production process. It will tell your scheduler and production manager the
stage of each work order in the production process at any moment.
Inventory Control: An Inventory Control software package will account for
your stock parts and tell you when you need to reorder. It can issue parts to a work order or job and confirm
that the correct items have been pulled. It will keep track of finished goods inventories and report replenishment
requirements. Barcoded inventory makes it quick and easy to take an inventory count.
Barcode: Barcode technology has been actively used for over 20 years in manufacturing,
distribution and retail to track inventory and jobs. The barcode terminals are similar to PDA's, and provide immediate
and accurate information. There are barcode labels designed for harsh environments that are durable enough to withstand
the dirt, grease and rough use that many environments experience and labels that can be printed on a laser printer.
Barcodes can easily be added to work orders in the form of a laser "font", allowing parts, jobs, etc. to be
barcoded on the work order.
Making the job of your employees easier by assuring that they have what they need to perform at
their best reduces stress. Showing them that you are taking steps to increase the profitability will
provide them more confidence in the company.
"Our…ability to readily locate critical tools, monitor routine maintenance schedules, and track
broken equipment has saved countless labor hours and lowered the frustration level of our shop employees.
By providing our employees an efficient method for obtaining, maintaining, and tracking tools and equipment,
the CheckMate Tool Tracking System has effectively helped lower our operating costs," confirmed Thomas Hortman,
Project Manager for AAI Services Corp., a Division of Textron Systems.
While technology won't cure the credit crunch manufacturers are facing, automated processes
that improve cash flow and keep lenders in the loop, demonstrating that the business "has
its act together" can go a long way in convincing lenders that their risk is low.
Dynamic Systems Inc.
15331 NE 90th Street
Redmond, WA 98052