For manufacturing, especially steel, aluminum and metals manufacturing, time really is money.
A few extra seconds at any phase of production can lead to back-ups and shipping delays. An employee on the line can cause a breakdown in the operations schedule if they need to stop working to track down critical information that should have been attached to the order or material in the first. Missing materials, lost information, and other problems can all cause delays.
Problems and issues will happen during production, especially the complex production in metals manufacturing. The goal of an operations manager should be to eliminate or minimize those issues. Increasing productivity means identifying problems before they happen, and implementing solutions that prevent the problem.
That’s where your choice in tracking solutions comes in.
Tracking Labels, Asset Tracking and Metals Manufacturing
We work with many of the leading companies in metals manufacturing, and have been providing solutions to them for the problems and issues holding them back.
Every manufacturer we’ve worked with has an asset tracking solution in place. They need some way of tracking work. They need to know what work was completed, what materials are in an order, and track specific orders across the factory or mill.
The difference between manufacturers, what determines the success and profitability of the business, often comes down to one issue – the effectiveness and efficiency of the asset tracking solution.
Let’s look at the factors that go into the success or failure of tracking labels in manufacturing.
What Data do you collect on Assets?
Many companies are currently just tracking the order number. The data on the label links to an order in the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Any additional information an employee needs will have to be tracked down, leading to production delays. What if you could find information on critical materials on the tracking label? What if the steps of production were listed on the label, or any unique production processes required for the order?
That tracking label is an opportunity. The faster you can get critical information to your team, the more you can safely accelerate production. That’s power hidden in your asset tracking label.
How do you Collect Data on Assets?
If you are using your tracking label for communicating and storing information, the next question is how your team is accessing the information. How long does it take an employee to access the label and retrieve the data?
Are you using a barcode scanner? How long does it take an employee to reach the label and use the scanner? Can the scanner present the information in a way the employee can use, or do they have to later retrieve data at another station? If it’s not a barcode, are you printing new labels with additional information after each step in the process? How is the data being updated?
Often the inefficiency of retrieving and inputting information on a label can lead to additional costs and problems with every order. The production team doesn’t consider how to improve the process because, “this is how we’ve always done it.” For many manufacturers, new methods and new processes like RFID chips and mobile scanners can provide instant, measurable benefits to your production.
How Are Tracking Labels Used?
Sometimes the problems holding back your production can be as simple as using the wrong label.
For example, using a label near radiant heat can melt the adhesive and cause the label to slip. This can be a problem in a storage facility where hot and cold slabs are stored. Time is wasted and money lost as the metal has to be tested and re-identified in the metallurgy lab. At other times, you may be paying more for your label than necessary, slapping a hot label on a finished slab and using a product with more capability than you need.
Take the time to evaluate your work processes and determine your requirements, and then find the right label for your needs. Look at the available opportunities to improve your efficiency and reduce your costs.
Where Are There Gaps in your Production Visibility?
Only rarely will asset tracking provide complete production visibility.
Metals production requires extreme conditions, which can make tracking materials extremely difficult, if not impossible. Getting the data and maintaining chain of custody requires the production team utilize out-of-the-box or even non-conventional methods of tracking, like colored bins, spreadsheets or chalk marks on a control panel.
It is at these points where your current tracking label solution is failing you. It is also at these points in production that inefficiency and additional expenses will creep in. Issues will sidetrack operations and the team will scramble to overcome problems. It is at these points where you can have the greatest impact on your productivity with the right solution.
How much is your Tracking Solution Costing You?
Once you’ve identified where the problem is in your current asset tracking or label process, you can begin to determine how much the problem is costing you.
How much time is your team wasting on the problem?
How many orders need to be scrapped? How much time is wasted due to the problem? How much waste is generated with every order?
Take the time to calculate these costs. This number will give you a strong idea of how much a solution will be to you and your business.
Asset Tracking and Labels for Metals Manufacturing
For many manufacturers, change represents risk. Change can mean new processes, new costs, and new training for employees, all of which can lead to additional problems. While many manufacturers will evaluate and consider new tracking solutions or labels, in the end they will choose to do nothing because it’s easier to manage the problems they know.
Rather than continuing to put productivity and operations at risk, talk to an expert in asset tracking and tracking labels. With a better idea of your requirements and an estimate of the expense you are facing with inadequate tracking, you have a potential budget for a possible solution.
Don’t let your production continue to fall behind. Contact the Material ID experts at GO2 to learn more.