Profiting From Shop Floor Data Collection
Through a referral, VAR Camelot Enterprises earned a $15,000 data collection project by demonstrating how to integrate time and attendance and job costing data.
In 1967, the Beatles sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends." David Hendrickson, VP of Camelot Enterprises, Inc. (Centerville, OH) can relate to those lyrics. After all, in 2000, thanks to a referral from another customer, this VAR landed a $15,000 shop floor data collection project that is still growing.
The project involved a distributor of food products that found its operations stymied by the age-old problem of manual data collection. After an initial consultation with the distributor, Camelot grouped the company's needs into three phases of system integration:
- Time and attendance automation to feed payroll - Although not quantified, the distributor knew it was spending too much time collecting, verifying, adding up, and entering its paper-based payroll information. Furthermore, there were accuracy issues with handwritten payroll documents (e.g. time cards) that the company suspected were leading to payroll overpayments.
- Labor costing for each job - When preparing orders, the company wanted to know the labor involved for different customer and order types.
- Automate the picking process - The distributor wanted to increase the accuracy of the picking process by verifying the items as they were picked.
Seeing Is Believing
"We find a lot of customers are already somewhat educated as to the advantages of automated data collection," Hendrickson explained. "They just need to learn how it relates to their specific situation. For example, we work with them to quantify processes like entering payroll and correcting time cards. However, some problem areas are more difficult to measure, such as the cost of orders being filled with the wrong items."
According to Hendrickson, the problems the distributor was dealing with were nearly identical to his manufacturing clients' problems. So, he did what he normally does for his clients; he set up a product demonstration. He showed how Camelot's C!Time time and attendance software, LINX' (Plano, TX) V Ethernet terminals, PSC's (Eugene, OR) QuickScan laser scanners, and Microsoft's SQL Server would all work together. He also detailed the types of reports the system would output. "By using the LINX terminals, the customer had the ability to add applications in the future, which was important for phase two," Hendrickson said. "The demonstration was all they needed to feel confident the system would meet their needs."
Integrate Time And Attendance With Job Costing
It took three days to implement phase one, which included installing Camelot's software and three LINX terminals equipped with bar code slot scanners and laser ports. For phase two, a day was needed for modifying the software and hardware to collect the labor information. For the time and attendance software, Camelot worked with the distributor's human resources department for two days of training. For the LINX Ethernet terminals, Camelot worked with the customer's IT department to set up the system and install the software on the required PCs.
"They are now able to scan employee badges and work orders to track the time each order requires," Hendrickson explained. "This data is then transferred into the SQL Server databases we designed for generating specific order and labor statistics."
Reduce Picking Costs With Wireless Technology
For time and attendance, the time and related labor costs for data entry and computation have been eliminated with the new system. Consequently, the data is more accurate. For labor reporting, the distributor now has the required data to reduce costs and increase efficiencies for specific types of jobs.
Phase three is expected to begin this year and will involve implementing wireless handheld scanners for picking and shipping orders. Since the completion of phase two, the distributor has realized other uses for the system and has continued to enlist Camelot's help in modifying the software for these new applications. It's the success of projects like this that can help a VAR expand into new markets and continue to get by with a little help from its friends.