There’s been a lot of upheaval and changes in the last few months. For some manufacturers, they have fewer employees working, but a similar amount of work to get done. Whether these employees are out on sick leave, were laid off, or any other reason, that leaves the shop owner to figure out how to make everything work. There are several ways to keep your shop running. The ones that work best will depend on your shop and its needs.
In the Office
It’s much easier to have office employees work from home than those who work on the shop floor. However, for one reason or another, you may still have a smaller staff on the office side. In order to keep everything running, it’s helpful to have excellent organization and the ability to dig down into information quickly. ERP software can answer both of these needs.
How much time does it take for you to find customer information? Can you quickly find how many hours your employees worked? ERP software keeps all of this information organized and easy to find. This means you can find just about anything with a few clicks. If it takes less time to find information, then it will take your employees less time to get their work done. Great ERP software will also create reports with a click, which saves your employees from having to create them from scratch.
In addition to easy navigation, great ERP software can also schedule your shop floor. You just input your jobs, their routing, and their due dates. Then the ERP software will create a schedule that will make sure all your jobs ship out on time. E2 SHOP has a virtual planning board that allows you to drag and drop jobs, just like you would do on a magnetic board. However, it does things that physical boards can’t. For example, E2’s virtual planning board ensures that jobs aren’t sent to the wrong work center, and it’s color-coded, so you know, at a glance, every job’s status.
They say that money makes the world go ‘round, and it’s certainly important to keep your shop running. That means that it’s critical to have excellent accounting. Some shops find that ERP software fits their needs for accounting. Others prefer to stick with their accounting programs, like QuickBooks. E2 prides itself on being a Gold Partner with QuickBooks, which means that it has seamless integration. Any relevant information entered into E2 will be transferred into QuickBooks, so all of your information in both programs is accurate and up-to-date. If you have fewer people to double-check the details, it’s important to know they’ll be taken care of automatically.
If you have to prioritize some jobs and push others back, you’ll want to get your best jobs out on time. Most of the time, your best jobs are going to be the ones that make you the most money. However, it can be difficult to figure out which ones these are. Sometimes the jobs that you charge the most money for actually make the least in profit. Great ERP software will help you find your most profitable jobs. That way you know which jobs to prioritize, if needed. In addition, if you have any jobs that aren’t making enough money, you can revisit how you charge for them for the next time a customer asks you to do one of those jobs.
On the Shop Floor
If any of your employees haven’t been able to work recently, it’s most likely to be those on the shop floor. As states start to reopen, you may not be able to have all of your employees come back right away if you would have too many people in one place. One option is to split your shop into more shifts so that only a set number of people are there at once. However, that option may not work for all shops. There are several other options that may work as well.
As with any other option, your shop has to be in the right place for this. However, some shops have benefited greatly by adding robots to their shop floor. Some robots are set up simply to load or unload machines. The machines are pre-set to run a particular job, so with a robot to load and unload them, there’s no need for a human to do anything.
Some shops have also introduced cobots to their shop floor. Cobots are robots that are able to work with people and don’t need cages and stringent safety protocols. Cobots may work on an assembly line or act as another set of hands to assist a human on a particular step. Robots and cobots are advancing and becoming more flexible by the day, which makes them more helpful for a job shop where the needs change frequently. If you haven’t looked into robots for a while, this may be a good time to see what they can do and if it’s a good fit for your shop.
When schedules come from the office to the shop floor, you want them to be thought out and accurate. Great scheduling could mean the difference between finishing all of your jobs on time and needing to pay overtime for a job or two that won’t meet the deadline otherwise. With ERP software to set up the scheduling, employees can work efficiently on the jobs on the floor. It’s much easier for employees to work on multiple jobs at once if steps are set up correctly. With great scheduling, employees can get more done in less time.
Another possibility to make your shop floor more effective is to move the machines. If you look at common routing paths for certain kinds of jobs, you may see that there’s a particular order that machines appear. If these machines are far apart, it takes more time for employees to move between them than necessary. Employees are often walking all over the shop floor to complete their jobs, and that’s taking quite a bit of time out of their day. You may find it helpful to move certain machines close together to shorten the distance between them. Your employees will take less time between steps on the job router, and they may be able to run multiple jobs. Moving machines may also make it easier for employees to stay at least 6 feet away from each other.
The only sure thing facing manufacturers in the next several months is change. If you’re able to keep your shop running with fewer employees, you’ll be better able to meet those changes. Efficiency is a great tool for shop owners, and the options above are a good place to start in making your shop more efficient.