Applications Selected for Our Factory
availability of low cost, powerful PCs and the variety of new PC
software applications for manufacturing, our company has been
looking for the most cost/effective applications for our operations.
The following applications have been selected.
Labor Standards Setting PC Software
calculates standard times for various types of human motions based
on international industrial engineering time standards for human
motions involved in performing work. An industrial engineer (or
equivalently trained) person codes a sequence of human motions for
an element of work and the software documents the motion sequence
and provides the standard times for each motion and for the entire
The advantages of
using pre-determined time standards software to set labor standards
is that it is faster than other methods, provides documentation of
the method and provides more uniform time standards. (The DOD
requires reliable labor time standards for most major defense
contracts and pre-determined time standard systems are a preferred
method of establishing labor standards.) Once a library of standards
are built for given processes, one can develop new standards very
quickly for new parts that use those processes. All the resultant
time standards are very uniform in regard to the human speed and
effort involved to do the work. Hence time standards set by this
technique tend to be very consistent in quality. Methods are
documented in detail in the computer files so that changes in
methods do not require starting all over again to make a new
standard, as is typically the case using stop watch methods to set
In our factory we
videotape operations on the floor, play the videotape on the PC
monitor and then code the motions observed on the computer screen.
The industrial engineer uses Windows software to flip back and forth
between viewing the video tape and the coding screen. In this way
the engineer can quickly document a specific method of work and
develop its standard time.
One may ask why
bother to analyze and develop relatively precise labor standards
when direct labor is becoming an increasingly small part of
manufacturing costs for most companies? The answer is cost
reduction. The biggest gain from carefully analyzing and measuring
work on the factory floor is typically methods improvements, i.e.,
finding a better and more uniform method to do the job. Also
measured direct labor performance tends to improve if measured and
compared to a reliable standard. Frequently, measuring direct labor
performance will yield a 10% or greater improvement, but often a 1%
improvement will pay for the application cost several times over.
The author is
familiar with mainframe software packages for setting pre-determined
time standards that ran as high as $250,000 in the 1970s. Our
company evaluated two PC based pre-determined time standards
packages whose prices ranged from $12,000 to $25,000. The PC based
systems are easier and faster to use with Windows type selection
menus and good report writers.
New expected releases of this type software will include the ability
to store video frames in the same files to more completely document
the work methods observed when coding the human motions.
Bar Code Data
labor data collection equipment has been in use in factories for
years and bar code data reading is not new. What is new is that the
low cost, powerful PCs equipped with inexpensive bar code readers
are replacing specialized labor data collection terminals. The cost
of a fully equipped PC with a full sized screen and bar code readers
is very competitive to the cost of a specialized labor data
collection terminal. Hence software is emerging as the most
important product in labor data collection systems, as it is in all
application areas. The advantages of using a PC as the labor data
collection terminal is the low cost plus the PC is available to use
for other applications on the network.
Another change in
direct labor data collection for factories today versus 20 years ago
is the trend to collect labor performance data on work groups in
work cells, rather than on individuals working alone. In our
factory, operators may report their time individually, but they may
share a joint work group efficiency for the work performed by all
the members of the cell on a specific job.
An important reason
for our factory to have a free standing or independent labor data
collection system from our central minicomputer is that we cannot
guarantee 24 hour up-time seven days a week from the minicomputer.
The minicomputer needs to shut down the terminal users daily for
maintenance and to reorganize the files. However we need to collect
labor 24 hours per day seven day per week, and thus we expect more
up time from a PC network solution. Each PC will be able to collect
labor even if the network goes down, and selected PCs will have
battery back-up in the event of a power failure.
effective PC data network software application is the automated
time sheet. Engineers or other groups that want to collect actual
labor costs by project can "fill out" their time sheets on their PC.
Supervisors approve these time sheets on their PC via special
passwords and security codes and we have streamlined our project
cost collection system in conjunction with the payroll system.
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01
stay current on manufacturing
please subscribe to our weekly bulletin, "Manufacturing. Basics
and Best Practices (MBBP)." Simply
fill in the below form and click on the " subscribe
also send you our Special Report, "6-Change Initiatives for
Personal and Company Success."
no cost of course.
personal information will never
be disclosed to any third party.
what one of our subscribers said about the MBBP Bulletin:
articles. Thanks for the insights. I often share portions of your
articles with my staff and they too enjoy them and fine aspects
where they can integrate points into their individual areas of
responsibilities. Thanks again."
Kerry B. Stephenson. President. KALCO Lighting, LLC
to Basics" Training for anyone ... anywhere ... anytime
6003 Dassia Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
West Coast: 760-945-5596
© 2001-2007 Business Basics, LLC