How Work Orders Are the Road Map for Your Business

James Shores explains the importance of work orders and how it assisted a company he previously worked for. And also why this company was cray-cray

Hi, I’m James. I’m with marketing here at Fishbowl. And today’s Whiteboard Wednesday we’re gonna talk about work orders, and how they serve as your road map. And we’re gonna use the example of an aerospace company manufacturer that I worked for years ago.

Typically, our process would begin, as it does with most places, with our engineers and with accounts – understanding general costs, what the customer wanted, making sure that we had the exact tolerance or fit that they require.

From here, we started with our inventory and our work order to know what it was we were making and what we were trying to create in our deadline.

Now, the problem that we had in this company is – well, we did have these little green stations, computer monitoring system so we could log hours, projects that we were working on. We, as employees, had no way of knowing if our inventory was in and if it was accurate – the levels that it said, what was there and how much.

Typically, part of our process was starting here at the equipment, whether it was a C and C machine or a couple of other pieces that we had. Again, they had to take from inventory and hopefully we had it. And there were often times that we didn’t have the material we needed to get started on the job, so there was a delay, and that only hurt us right down the whole line.

Fabrication – another part where we’d be making parts for Boeing. And, again, we were relying on the inventory to be in there, and it wasn’t. So we’d have to go back and forth checking with inventory, checking with accounts, making sure that the engineers had allotted for the right materials. So there’s a lot of time spent in this back and forth, and instead of being able to check automatically and know if we had materials needed to fulfill this work order.

Assembly, same problem. So we’re coming down this line, but assembly also needs different parts and materials to finish out their process of completing, whether it’s a fuselage or a turbine propeller, they need to speak with inventory.

We had one guy in charge of inventory, and if he was sick and if he forgot something that day – if he hadn’t logged something accurately – we, as employees, did not know what was here and how much.

The final part, typically for us, was testing – the QA. And if this passed, we went into holding with our goods. And sometimes we’re waiting on for the entire shipment to complete so we can ship it all at once. Sometimes we’re waiting for this through our long manual process. We’re waiting on these numbers to accurately reflect the inventory number.

So if, instead, it hadn’t been taken out, then part of this process – we couldn’t put it into holding yet because it didn’t balance up. And it was always causing problems here in the accounts, both for our numbers and for customers who were calling and saying, “Is my product ready yet?”

So hopefully the takeaway lesson is here if we can eliminate – as a company, whether it’s manufacturing or distribution – these long manual processes of going back and forth. And being able to, as soon as we come in from a delivery and receiving and then inventory, log this through some type of either barcoding or mobile system and knowing right away how much and where and what stage in the process we’re at, we are gonna save so much time. We’re eliminating all of this back and forth.

That’s today’s Whiteboard Wednesday. Thanks for joining us. Hope to see you again next week.

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