It is certain that when efficiencies in manufacturing shop floor operations improve, productivity rises. On the other hand, it is also certain that when efficiencies decline, so does productivity. For the job shop, make-to-stock, or make-to-order manufacturer, the problem has always been how to maintain communication between all areas of the plant with real-time information.
Whether it is materials management, dispatch lists and routers, inventory management, shop floor scheduling, shipping, or the many other areas of manufacturing, the quest has always been for efficient connections between departments.
Today, the Graphical User Interface (or GUI) is a central data collection tool employed to bring together all of the various and distant areas of the manufacturing process with the same, real-time information for everyone to see. Through an easy to use and read terminal, the GUI presents the users with data collected from every aspect of the plant or shop. This information is used to make production decisions that, in the long run, will produce efficiencies and profits for the company.
Though the list of benefits for using a centralized data collection system is long, here are eight of the greatest advantages of the GUI manufacturing software:
1) Easy Log-In and Log-Off: The GUI system allows shop floor personnel to log-in and log-off jobs from a central location. This clocking information is then stored for easy access by payroll and scheduling.
2) Next Job Priority Settings: The GUI lets the shop floor personnel review the Work Order Detail to see what jobs have been completed, are presently in process, or need to be worked on. Shop floor personnel then clock onto the jobs that have highest priority.
3) Instant Prints and Documents: A robust GUI system will give the shop floor person on-screen links that will pull up visible documents and images associated with the part(s) or assemblies being worked on.
4) Accessible Quality Instructions: Production quality tolerances are included in the job details accompanying the work order and/or dispatch list.
5) Tooling Instructions: Efficient, time saving designs tell the employee the tooling requirements to set-up machines for any particular job.
6) Tooling Locations: Tooling and material parts are located before the job is to begin, thereby eliminating the indirect cost of personnel taking valuable time to search for tools.
7) Parts Worked On: In addition to adding multiple jobs, shop floor employees can enter specific part(s) being worked on at any moment, as well as the number of parts completed per job, as well as the amount of scrapped produced.
8) Requisitions: From the centrally located terminal, employees can requisition parts and material for production from in-stock inventory. In an efficient GUI system, shop floor personnel can even generate a purchase order for outside vendors.
As a monitor of job performance, the GUI also acts as an analyzer of actual production data (e.g., parts/scrap produced) as it is related to the performance data of the various shop floor work centers (e.g., employee time clock). To this end, time management becomes an even more important concept in manufacturing, and one that best addresses efficiency in production.
In conclusion, the GUI is a single-point and multi-purpose shop floor and work order management tool that returns time to the manufacturer as a valuable production resource. It is a manufacturing software solution that should be seriously considered by all operations looking to gain bottom-line profit margins.