By their nature, job shops are often, as they say, “all over the place” with what they do. Usually, they have to perform multiple tasks with limited resources. Diverse orders come and go with great speed. Their production requirements are such that each order could be something new, with engineering changes often coming on the heels of the order submission to the floor. With so much coming and going, scheduling and tracking is a vital function in job shops. When an order is delayed or otherwise neglected, there are usually heavy costs associated with it—loss of revenue, loss of material, loss of time, and loss of customers. It’s that last one that’s the real biggie.
Tracking software enables companies to track production items from sales order to shipping (and sometimes beyond), and also identify their costs. This type of manufacturing tool works real-time to track and record each and every transaction within the process, ensuring accountability for all the resources that are used in the job shop. In the best systems that are part of larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) software systems, everything in the job shop can be tracked—from the labor and resources used for the job, to the status of the job, and the status of the shipment.
Job shop tracking software uses advanced technologies like RFID, barcodes, shop floor terminals and web-based reporting. With these advanced technologies, management can track the exact costs of the labor and the materials as the workers enter data into the system. The data entry can be made in any number of ways including barcode scanning, graphical user interfaces (GUI) and other forms.
The entire tracking module is automatically updated as and when changes are made in the data. In this way, management can immediately track any backlogs, inefficiencies in quality, and/or missing links in the process. Both the shop resources and production costs are simultaneously updated. This helps ascertain true forecasts and to maintain scheduling, and take on other jobs based on the level of inventory being used. Job shop tracking software also enables customers to know the status of their job works in real time. It fosters better accounting control and the trust of the customer that their jobs are being done correctly and with continuously improving processes.
Generally, tracking software is integrated with scheduling tools such as advanced production scheduling (APS) for better decision-making. Other advanced features of job tracking software can include generation of custom reports, merging of tracked items, filter and sorting of tracked items, schedule requests and reminders, email programs, generation of requests, sorting of requests, and suggestion of changes for the tracked items.
So, to know the real status of a single job, or thousands of jobs, job shops must not only incorporate, but also actually use, job-tracking software within an ERP system to get a handle on what’s going on at any moment, with any job. It’s certain your customers will be happier for it, and ultimately so will you.