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Capturing insights by connecting things and people (4 of 7): Integrated data from people, processes and things

on in FabTrol Pro
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Some shops drive production based on material cutting progress—because that is something that they track well. Others are fundamentally drawing approval based. Drawings go to purchasing ASAP and are then thrown over the wall into the shop as soon drawings reach a certain status (like "approved") and materials are in-bound.  Still others monitor shipping closely and drive production based on that.

Most shops review a spreadsheet, every week, in a production or planning meeting. The spreadsheet communicates progress on erection sequences or production batches (or "drawing releases").  A percentage of progress is represented for things like cutting and painting.  Human judgement is used to correlate whatever data does exist for those things into a percentage of completion. Sometimes this is based on labor expended vs. labor in the budget but just as often it is the result of a seasoned weather eye summing up what is visible on the shop floor. 

Previous posts covered how inexpensive it is to collect data from machines, every minute of every day and how easy it can be to sell people on processes and tools that shrink their workload while collecting more data.  But what's the point?

  • Push-button access to a one page, real-time overview of your project covering: RFIs, labor hours, change orders, shipping status, materials on hand, purchasing and more. 
  • Instant access to real-time production progress summarized by erection sequence or production batch.  Questions about the details? Need to know which specific assembly is keeping that Batch marked "in process"? Just a click away.
  • Constant, effortless dashboard feedback about which jobs are shipping and how the work that you need for your shop is flowing through engineering and approvals.
  • Confident material multing/nesting/allocation knowing that material-on-hand data is accurate, right now.
  • Click on a part or assembly in the BOM and find out its production status.
  • Click on a task or work area on the Production left-to-do form and know how much work is currently available to process through the saw or fit-up bay.
  • A list of assemblies welded, today, so far.

And it's all available from one source, full of insightful reports that can easily be customized to deliver even proprietary information that you know is the key to your particular business and customers.

Data is valuable, in and of itself. But it's also overwhelming in this new world where you can collect so much, so fast. This can discourage steel fabricators from accumulating the information.  If you can't get on demand, automated analysis and easily add more reports to answer different questions, then there's little point in collecting more data than you can easily review and understand in a few minutes. Instant analysis is possible though. For more, read the post coming next week: Capturing insights by connecting things and people (5 of 7): Automated analysis.


Brian Williams has spent his adult life working in steel fabrication and technology. Starting as a grinder/wire brush operator in college he worked as a fitter, CNC programmer, production control manager, and VP of Operations for a 4-shop industrial plate and structural fabricator. At FabTrol he has delivered training and implementation services to some of FabTrol's largest customers and designed software as FabTrol's Product Manager. Today, he continues to work in product management and serves as the General Manager of FabTrol Systems.