We are currently looking into get some job tracking software. We are a 13 man shop and are having problems keeping up with everything like where the job is in production, when will it be ready to ship, how much time did we spend on a job, how much material did it take ect..... The two that keep coming up are Tractivity and Crows Nest. Is anybody using these? Anybody have any pros and cons abouth these? Is there something else anybody is using that we should look into? Thanks for your help.
What you are describing is a function of ERP software, or Enterprise Resource Planning software. I'm not familiar with Crows nest but the folks at Tractivity are quite professional and can help you with most of what you're looking for. The issue is accurately capturing and managing the information needed to perform these functions. Just tracking the job is but one function of an ERP software. Why not automate estimating, purchasing, scheduling and accounting, while you're at it. These types of systems are somewhat expensive but give you the groundwork for growth and managing that growth effectively. Yes, I'm suggesting another software to address this. Seradex already provides ERP software to the woodworking industry and already addresses the challenges. They only focus on manufacturing and might be a good one to check into. I don't cover the Texas region, so I don't have a dog in this hunt. If you would like to investigate, I can point you to the right person.
"The issue is accurately capturing .....the information".
"So Mrs. Lincoln, other than that, how was the play?"
The software modeling is always impeccable and the reports a wonderful thing to see. The caveat is how much confidence you have in your assumptions.
If the front end of this modeling relies on someone's educated hunch or intuition the back end will also only be as good as the hunch or intuition.
To be reliable this software must be completely binary. The previous task must either be complete or not complete. The next task must be either next or not next.
Uh, OK. The point I was trying to make, and apparently not successful in doing so, was that Job tracking requires accurately capturing the project through the shop and ERP software has its core ingredients in the parts that make up those products within the jobs. Many companies start with "How do I track jobs more accurately?" and find themselves realizing that they need ERP. Just trying to help.
We have tried everything to track our jobs, and we have a time tracking system. We have spent considerable time fooling with reports, etc. The weak link is the guys ability to remember to punch in and out consistently, and the fact that they 'guard their turf'...they don't want you to know if it took forever on a certain task. So time spent on one task gets applied to another task if it's not punched in and out correctly, the whole thing turns into a hairball. End of the day I felt like it could cost more that it's worth to track accurately. My solution is track in a way that I know how much per hour the department averaged in a given month. I also spot check certain tasks to get an idea of labor times. I will personally watch drawer making, or panel cutting for example. We are only a 6 man shop and I found accurate time tracking overwhelming.
I think of traditional ERP system and I don't think of 13 man shops using ERP.
There are a lot of methods that can catch bigger milestones to get the answers to the questions. I think Crows nest was developed as "middleware" to solve these kind of issues, you just need to see if it fits your methods.
Any tracking software needs manual or automatic updates of job progress from shop floor. The automatic updates may not be cost-effective for a small shop with 13 workers. If updates for tracking purpose are to be manual, then one can create a simple Excel file that shows operations of each job along with estimated hours, spent hours and remaining hours. This file can be updated as time progresses. This is just like bookkeeping but useful for tracking progress of each job. The main drawback of tracking tools is lack of reliable prediction of workflow and job completion times.
Taking the same updates, good scheduling tools show the current situation of workload and generate workflow prediction and dispatch lists for resources.
Cabmaker said, "To be reliable this software must be completely binary. The previous task must either be complete or not complete. The next task must be either next or not next.".
This kind of precedence relation is not required by good scheduling tools which allow lags among operations.
I use a program called Function Fox. It was developed for marketing professionals to track there time and expenses. I have my guys fill out a time sheet with the work order number and the tasks that they complete. I have my office person enter this information daily. Kinda a lot of paperwork but I have not found a better solution as of yet.
You said, "I have my guys fill out a time sheet with the work order number and the tasks that they complete. I have my office person enter this information daily.".
This is exactly what a good scheduling software needs for performing efficiently. Its advantages of good scheduling software include generation of a dispatch list (prioritized To-Do task list) for each resource, quick what-if analysis of schedules, proactive capacity planning and more reliable prediction of workflow, bottlenecks and project completion times. Reliable workflow prediction enhances production management efficiency. Good scheduling software can serve as an intelligent decision support tool in production management. All it needs is only the data collection effort that you described above.
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