Are Your Paper-based Travelers Holding Back Your Shop Floor?

Inefficient, annoying, error-prone and wasteful, many times paper-based work travelers are the source of countless shop floor problems and might be holding production back.

 By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Many times, discussions about paperless manufacturing and MES focus on hard data (35% increase in production and a 45% decrease in quality defects – hurray!), the ROI or the global enterprise (real-time shop floor visibility and control, and sustainable process improvement and enforcement – alright!).  We forget to notice the little improvements that have the greatest impact on the shop floor – the things that make everyone’s life easier.  They bring joy, increased job satisfaction and improve the shop floor quality-of-life.  It may not directly impact the ROI, but it sure makes everyone happy.

Exhibit A: The Paperless Shop Traveler
What steps can you take to improve performance (and happiness) on your shop floor?  Illustration by www.colourbox.com

What steps can you take to improve performance (and happiness) on your shop floor? Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

Face it, shop travelers that are a huge bundle of paper, checklists, drawings and data collections can be a major pain.  Those annoying bundles of work instructions and shop floor records that are painstakingly printed every morning, then laboriously assembled and bundled into plastic sleeves, bags, or bound together by pins, clips or whatever is on hand.  It makes its journey across the shop, carried by hand or thrown on a cart.  As changes happen, notes are added, papers removed and measurements made.  It’s dropped, spilled on, and crammed into corners.  Pieces are lost and critical information gets shuffled back and forth with everyone hoping nothing gets missed.  Let’s be honest, all that paper isn’t necessary!

When it’s all done, the records are stored away – those piles and piles (and piles) of records.  Maybe someone has to collect the data scrawled on the traveler, then (re)input the information.  Finally, it’s all shoved into a box and carted away to storage.  If you’re lucky, maybe you have a process that converts it to a pdf.  Maybe.

That’s what happens all too often.  Like I said… it’s annoying, inefficient and error prone.  The paper-based traveler is the source of headaches and frustration for many shop floors.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  An integral feature of paperless manufacturing is removing the unnecessary paper from the work traveler and leaving you with a format that makes sense for your shop process.

With Quantum or Interax and CIMx Software, each work order created is a separate file in the system.  Important details are part of the file, and easily accessible.  Work and set-up instructions, safety material, important training information and more are all attached to each work order, and can be accessed when and wherever necessary.  Most importantly, only the latest approved information can be accessed, and when needed change orders can be signaled through the system and made in just a few moments.  After all, there’s proof visual work instructions are far superior to paper-based ones.

From the shop floor, quality checks can be made and added directly to the work order, where it can be securely stored.  If there is a file or digital photo the shop floor wants to add to the file, it can be added with a press of a button.

From anywhere you have access to your network; you can track the progress of the paperless traveler with real-time information.  No more running to the shop floor asking questions, or flipping through pages to swap out flawed work instructions, or retroactive quality checks.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

When the work order is complete, it is securely stored in a digital archive.  You can access the file at any time, and a complete as-built record is a single button press away.  Forget the stress of audits, everything that needs to be done is done automatically.  Want to run reports on the data to help optimize production?  No problem.

Eliminating unnecessary paper from your work travelers may not be your primary reason for implementing a paperless manufacturing system, but it may be what your shop floor is most thankful for when the project is complete.  Shop floors are quickly moving paperless, so now is the time to get a head start on the process and a leg up on the competition.

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