Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Realtrac Loading, Work Centers, and Work Hours

The Realtrac Loading module is designed to give insights in to the status of your work centers and the jobs and operations running through them. The software is designed to give the users as much actionable information as possible in an easy to use manner.

When it comes to an operation, and how much time is remaining, there are two schools of thought. We’ll tie this in to our Loading module momentarily, but first, let’s take a look at a router operation that has a little bit of work on it.

Figure 1

Most specifically OP 76:   

Figure 2

So, looking at OP 76, we see this operation is estimated to take 3.0 hours. An employee has already logged in 0.49 hours. So, how much time is remaining on this operation?

The simple answer is 2.51 hours. (3.0 estimated hours 0.49 actual hours == 2.51 hours remaining.)

But, it’s also reasonable to say there is 0.245 hours remaining. You may react “How is that possible?” Let’s take a look at the data we have on hand, and see if I can convince you that 0.245 hours is a legitimate number as well.

Our employees have committed 0.49 Hours to this operation, and if you note, they have already completed 8 good pieces in that time period. This job is for 12 pieces (as we see in the upper left hand corner of Figure 1), meaning we’ve already completed 8/12 or 2/3rd of the job in only 0.49 hours (basically a half hour). It’s reasonable to expect this operation isn’t actually going to consume all 3 hours, in fact, the math tells us that if the employees keep on their pace, the operation is only going to take about 45 minutes in total.

At the sake of being geeky, the algebra looks something like:

Figure 3

Having just completed writing that out, photographing it, trying to clean it up and add it to this document, I feel pretty nerdy. I suspect if you suffered through it, you may feel a bit nerdy as well. But hopefully it does help convince you that saying “We expect operation 76 probably only has 0.245 hours, basically 15 minutes, remaining to complete all 12 pieces”.

So which is the right answer? Is there 2.51 hours remaining, or 0.245 hours? There’s a pretty big difference there, and that’s just one router operation for one job!

The good news is that the Realtrac Loading Module offers you both values!

The Realtrac Loading Module

Let’s take a look at our Realtrac Loading module system, using this same example! 

Before we logged in to OP 76 on Job 1429, I took a screen shot of the Work Center Loading and Load Schedule tabs for our Assembly Work Center (Work Center #27). Looking at the Work Center Loading tab, we see there is 13.6 Hours of work waiting on the center.

Figure 4

When we go in to the Load Schedule tab for this work center, it lists the individual operations that remaining for this center, with the remaining time for each operation going through Assembly.

Figure 5

I’ll save you the trouble, and tell you I added up the times, and it does indeed add up to 13.6 hours remaining.

Alright, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, before logging in to Operation 76 (Figure 2), both the Work Center Loading and Load Schedule tabs showed our Assembly work center having 13.6 hours waiting.

Fair enough! Now I have my employee log in and start working on Operation 76 for job 1429 (which is our operation in the Assembly work center). As we saw above, our awesome employee logs in for about a half hour, and knocks out 8 completed pieces. Let’s take a look at what has happened with in our 2 Loading tabs (Work Center Loading and Load Schedule). Loading up the Work Center Loading tab, we see the following:

Figure 6

The Assembly center now shows 11.6 hours remaining. But our employee only logged in for 0.49 hours. Why did we lose roughly 2 hours from the Work Center Load for the Assembly center (from the 13.6 hours we saw in Figure 4 to the 11.6 hours we see in Figure 6)? It’s because the Total Hours on the Work Center Loading total hours value is calculated using your real data using the production pace that your employees are hitting. For operation 76 on job 1249, it looks like our employee is going to complete the work in about 15 more minutes, so in the Work Center Loading tab, we have adjusted the expected load for the center accordingly.

In case you prefer to see the load based solely on the router estimate (outside of the pace our employees are currently hitting), you can look at the Load Schedule tab for that value. When I pull up Load Schedule for the Assembly station, we see the following:

Figure 7

The total hours for Assembly in this interface is 13.1 hoursThis is because the Load Schedule is calculated comparing only the Estimated time and the Actual Time. Just as we calculated above when looking at the router, OP 76 was estimated at 3 hours, we spent 29 minutes logged in, so on the Load Schedule screen (Figure 7) we see 2 hours, 31 minutes remaining.

So, which number should we use?

That’s up to you! Realtrac provides both numbers since we understand our varied customer base appreciates all of the information on hand.

Some customers prefer to view their routers estimated times as a fairly gospel number. In many cases they may have run very specific parts that have been produced many times in the past. In these circumstances, they may well want all the loading math to use the estimated times exclusively. In those scenarios, we would recommend using the estimates on the Load Schedule interface for planning purposes.

If your shop floor employees are good about keeping track of their time and piece counts, you may wish to consider using the total hours value on the Work Center Loading tab. When calculating the total   hours value in this column, we include the pace of the work your employees have been registering. If your employees are kicking out pieces quicker than estimated, the total hours column will have less time than the Hours Left column on the Load Schedule tab; alternatively, if your employees are not hitting   the pace of your estimates, then the total hours column will have more time.

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