Define Shop Floor Control
Shop floor control is the use of measurement, analysis, management techniques, and technology to maximize the productivity, efficiency and profitability of a manufacturing plant or sewing room. Shop floor control’s components include labor, equipment, the integration of equipment and computer systems, setup methodologies, the preproduction and manufacturing process, work in process inventory, warehousing and shipping, quality control and waste, as well as payroll and piecework incentives.
Shop floor control may involve any and all activities in the manufacturing supply chain, as modern management science recognizes that all activities are connected to ultimate productivity and profitability. A simplified definition of shop floor control is that of maintaining a real-time view of all aspects of a manufacturing process in order to maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability.
Shop floor control may involve any and all types of manufacturing activities tied to a shop floor. All industries connected with manufacturing of any type of product or good may benefit from shop floor control techniques. There are a plethora of terms connected with shop floor control and its definition, including “piecework payroll”, “piecework system”, “incentive payroll” or “incentive payroll system”, however these terms are sometimes limiting and do not always view shop floor control as being completely integrated with the manufacturing or production supply chain.
Shop floor control is likewise known by other names, depending on the industry, including “production line balancing,” as well as terms including the specific industry activities involved. For instance, in the apparel and fashion manufacturing and sewing industries, shop floor control is often described as being “sewing plant management,” or “sewing room management.”
What is Shop Floor Control Software?
Shop floor control software is technology used for maximizing the productivity, efficiency and profitability of a shop floor, including all of the shop floor components and considerations mentioned and discussed above. Shop floor control software is a tool for enabling best manufacturing and sewing floor practices. It provides a bird’s-eye view of what is happening on the shop floor at all times, preferably via managements’ choice of dashboard, tablet or mobile device.
To restate, shop floor control software is a tool for measuring and managing labor, the use of equipment, setup, payroll, as well as materials flow through the manufacturing process. Shop floor software provides complete visibility into the manufacturing and sewing supply chain so that changes and improvements to materials flow, labor productivity, and equipment efficiency may be made in real time.
Software which supports best practices seamlessly integrates payroll and incentive pay, and provides visibility for planning more efficient setup. It helps with making changes to how workstations are architected and interconnected for more enhanced WIP flow through the supply chain. It allows for integration with a company’s ERP, WMS, and its payroll provider. It will even integrate with equipment such as RF guns, printers, shipping and vendor portals, as well as portable devices.
Shop Floor Control Software Setup and Improved Productivity
When architecting a shop floor, there are many considerations to streamlining the manufacturing supply chain. Setup is a very primary consideration. How will materials be processed into a finished good, and how might this process be set up most efficiently? There can be laborers, labor work stations, and equipment for sewing, cutting, finishing or even distribution involved. There are multiple processes involved, and it is both an art and a science to the construction and setup of a manufacturing or sewing assembly line.
Without shop floor control software, the setup and management of a manufacturing supply chain or assembly line can be difficult to manage and implement. Complications involve the manual assignment of hundreds of workers to multifaceted workstations, the design of intricate materials flow from work station to work station, as well as the planning for delivery of hundreds of thousands of finished goods to shipping docks, inventory and store shelves.
Without the right technology or software in place to capture “real time” shop floor data and to convert it into usable information for analysis, a manager must rely on intuition or hunches he may have based on historic work experience. Without the right software or technology, he is required to visibly monitor activities to capture bottlenecks in the materials’ work flow, or to spot a tired worker who may be fatigued or sick. He may have the right manufacturing or sewing productivity information, but only days after the fact. A lot of time must be spent crunching numbers, working with spreadsheets, or going through hundreds of gum sheets and time cards.
With the right shop floor control software in place, the data capture, analysis, and reaction speed of a manager can be improved substantially. He can go from taking days to gather multiple batch reports, to crunch numbers, and to conduct difficult ad hoc analysis to moving at the speed of electronic data transfer. With the right software in place a manager can immediately (in real time) spot an operator or sewer experiencing a slump in productivity. What is being produced, or added to WIP, is completely visible. This method makes a substantial difference when compared to discovering an operator has been non-productive for hours or days, but only after the manager has reviewed and analyzed numerous physical time cards and production tallies.
Historic shop floor control data can give the manufacturing or sewing floor manager a view to how various setup configurations have affected productivity in the past. Historic setup data can be benchmarked. It may help identify which laborers are most productive with particular sewing or manufacturing tasks, how various incentive programs have affected worker counts and the quality of their workmanship, as well as which tasks or work stations are best grouped together. When historical productivity data is available, shop floor control software is a very powerful tool for planning the most efficient and profitable setup formats for a sewing or manufacturing floor. Improvements to efficiency and productivity can be made on a continual basis.
Shop Floor Control Software and Wi-Fi or Portable Device Usage
Shop Floor Control Software that is configured for Wi-Fi and for use with wireless and mobile devices is ideal for many reasons. It is scalable to thousands of work stations and is easy to plug and play. There are many benefits to shop floor workstations each being connected to their own remote devices. Rearrangement of work stations for greater productivity or manufacturing changes is made seamless. There are no wires or cables to be unplugged or rewired. Operators are more efficient because each has his own portal for recording and measuring his productivity in real time.