Timesheet & Project Management Blog

The goal of this blog is to provide tips and ideas for improving time tracking and project managment for our customers and other interested people.

Organizing Manufacturing Projects


In this video I will introduce you to Standard Time®, a Manufacturing Resource Planner.

We’ll look at five ways to organize projects for your manufacturing operation. In other words, how to group and report on projects of differing types.

The groupings I’ll show are:

  1. Portfolios
  2. Folders
  3. Clients
  4. Status
  5. And assembly lines

These are all optional. Use any or all to visualize and report on your manufacturing projects.

Want to take a look?

Here goes!

Let’s begin by choosing Tools, Projects in Standard Time®. This is the place where administrators would set up projects and set the properties for them. Right off the bat you see folders where projects can be dropped into; create your own hierarchy of folders, that would be the first level of classification. You also, on the right-hand side in the properties, see client, portfolio and status.

As I click on the different projects you can see those fields changing. You could use clients for external or internal clients, that you’re doing work for or departments. If you don’t have any of those three you might consider using client for a completely different purpose for classifying projects. Portfolios of course would be for different kinds of projects that you do, you could group them together by kind. And then you can also set the status, which is another form of classification for projects.

So those are four quick ways you can classify projects. You also have assembly lines which you see over on the left-hand side.

How can you use these classifications or groupings of projects within Standard Time? The first way would be to use this tree on the left-hand side to filter the views on the right. You see tabs along the top, I’m looking at the project tasks tab, which shows all of the projects and tasks within Standard Time. I can use that tree on the left-hand side to filter this view. I could, for instance, open the clients section, click on a client. Now I’m looking at just the projects, which are these wide blue bands, or this particular client. Or go down to project portfolios, click on a portfolio, and I now see all the projects for that portfolio. Or go over to folders, click on a folder and I see the projects for that folder.

If you have assembly line set up you could click on assembly line and see all the projects that are running on that assembly line. So lots of different ways to categorize, visualize, group your projects. Another way might be to go to the view menu choose project, resource allocation, you see a few buttons at the top of this drop down that you can use to find all the project resource allocation for a certain folder. Or for a portfolio or for an assembly line. Or see all of the projects.

Another way would be to the view menu, choose project revenue, you have those same buttons that you can look at all the revenue for a folder, portfolio and so on. You have these groupings available within reports as well. If I open time log reports I can see reports by client or by portfolio. You could create custom reports that used folders, status or assembly lines as well.

Lots of different ways to use those classifications to visualize, group and report on your manufacturing projects.

Shop Floor Barcode Scanning


Hi everyone, Ray White from Mfg Projects

I’m here to introduce you to barcode time tracking on the manufacturing floor.

There are a lot of advantages to tracking time right on the shop floor with barcode scanners.

Consider these three to start:

  1. First, you’ve got work orders or manufacturing projects, but how do you get actual work hours from employees that don’t use computers? Or don’t sit in front of a workstation? The answer is, with barcode scanners. That’s advantage number one, and it’s a big one.
  1. Number two; barcode scans are the most accurate way to track projects. No more fat finger, mouse, clicking, fake time entries, trying to remember what you did last Tuesday, or last week. You just scan… bleep, bleep, bleep, and a timer starts. Bleep, bleep again, and it stops. That’s real data; nothing fake about that.
  1. Number three; you collect a lot of extra information in just a few scans. The work order, the client, the employee, department, task, phase, status, kind of work, percent complete, not to mention actual start and stop times. This is a river of data coming off the shop floor.

That was just three. There are others you’ll see in these videos.

So, if you want to track actuals on the shop floor verses estimates, barcode scanners are the way to go.

Hey, I’m Ray White.

Good luck on your manufacturing projects!

Project Task Link Relationships


Every manufacturing project has tasks, or steps, phases, or activities that define the work you'll perform. And some of those tasks are dependent upon others.

In other words, you can’t start one step until another is completed. Or, there may be phases later in the process that won’t start until previous phases are finished.

Those are called task dependencies. Tasks are linked, and their dates depend on previous tasks.

In this video, we’ll look at four types of task dependencies that model actual conditions on the shop floor.

Let’s take a look!

Here on Standard Time® we’ll look at four distinct types of link relationships that you can see by the lines and the arrows in the Gantt chart. The first one we’ll look at is finish-to-start, which is the most common; then start-to-start, then finish-to-finish and finally we’ll take a look at start-to-finish.

Let’s go ahead and look at the most common link relationship which would be the finish-to-start. The starting date of a successor task is linked back to the finish date of another. When this task ends another can start. That’s the most common. We’ll move this task and you can see the next task updates because this one has been moved. Finish date on this one changed so that changes the starting date of the successor task.

The next type would be start-to-start. You can see the starting date of this task is linked back to the starting date of another. When that one is moved then the successor is also moved because the two start dates are linked together.

The third type would be finish-to-finish, where the finish date of this task is linked back to the finish date of another. We move that, the two finish dates are linked together and when the predecessor moves then the successor would also be updated.

The fourth type would be start-to-finish, where the starting date of this task goes down to the finish date of another. When we move this task then the successor also moves because the starting date is linked back to the finish date.

The examples you see down below are variations of we already looked at. We’ve got start-to-start; when the starting date of this task changes then the starting date of a successor task would change. We’ve also looked at the finish-to-finish; so when the finish date of this one changes then the finish date of the successor would also change. So you can combine these to form a nice little link relationship.

The long lines you see on these milestones are lag times. If we click on this link icon in the link column; we can go ahead and look at the lag times that you see connected with these link relationships. I should point out that the inbound tasks that you see here, actually none here, are predecessors and the outbound tasks are the successors. They are linked together with certain link relationships. In this case they have some lag times. I’ll click here, you can see the finish-to-start link relationship; which we already looked at. And a lag time of two calendar days. Close that and look at this one.

We have start-to-start, which we’ve also looked at previously with minus-four calendar days. Cancel out of these and that explains the long lines that you see here linked to these milestones. That covers the four distinct types of link relationships in Standard Time that you can use for your projects.

Assembly Line Project Allocation and Scheduling


If your manufacturing shop has assembly lines, you might like to see which projects are running on each line. Turns out, there’s a tool for that. It’s called Standard Time, and it answers a lot of similar questions like:

1. Which assembly line has a free slot for my next project?

2. Which lines are booked?

3.What is the utilization rate of each assembly line?

4. Which assembly line is my project running on?

5. And others

Let’s have a look at project resource allocation in Standard Time, and specifically how that relates to work orders… or projects… running on assembly lines.

Here we go!
We’ll start by choosing tools, assembly lines here in Standard Time®. This will give you a list of assembly lines in your operation; you can click the + symbol to add new ones and then set the properties on those assembly lines. I won’t go into the properties here; that’s not the focus of this video; we’ll be talking about project resource allocation on assembly lines. You probably would want to right click on an assembly line and choose assign projects.
You’ll notice that you can have multiple projects assigned to a single assembly line. Normally those projects would execute sequentially, so when one project ends the next would start. That would allow you to see the task and project allocation to assembly lines and spot gaps or slots where you can put new projects.
You may also use the project tasks tab and Gantt chart to see a timeline of those tasks into the future. Then choose view, Project, Resource Allocation. You’ll notice I’m looking at all projects here, I’m going to click this last option. And then choose an assembly line from the drop down. Here you can see all the projects that are allocated to this assembly line. Pick another one and you see the allocation for that assembly line.
You may also notice the Gantt chart is still visible behind this resource allocation window. I can grab tasks and projects and drag them and see the effect that it has on that assembly line. You can spot the slots where new projects could be added and use this as a tool to slot new projects for your assembly lines.

Basic Barcode Setup for Mfg, Scanning on the Shop Floor


This video will show you how to set-up Standard Time® for the very basics of barcode scanning on the shop floor. We’re going to scan just one work order and some tasks – that’s it. You probably know that Standard Time can scan a lot of other things, like projects, tasks, phases, steps, inventory, bill of materials, expenses, tool control, scrips; a lot of things. But we’re going to take a look at the very basics and then you can take it from there.

In Standard Time I have a virtually empty database that has just one work order. We’re going to set up the very basics to collect time on the manufacturing floor for work orders and tasks. One of the first things you might consider doing is going to the tools menu, choose users and organization. Here I have a list of each of the users that can scan, you can click the + symbol to create new users. Make sure they have license, everyone who scans or does administration needs those.

The next thing you probably want to do is go to the tools menu and choose projects. I have one project set up, you can click the + symbol to create new ones. Or you can right click on an existing one and duplicate that. I’ve got a simple list of tasks that I have set up, each one has a duration; you’ll see the actual work come in when the scans occur. And then there is a percent complete that will result from that.

Let’s switch over the time log, I’ll remove any filtering I have, and we can begin scanning. But first of all let’s switch over to Microsoft Word so that you can see how I created the barcode labels. We start with some ordinary text, there’s an asterisk before and after to tell the barcode scanner where the label begins and ends. You recognize these as user names, this is the work order, these are some tasks and a couple little admin things we may need. I’m going to select these, go up to the font menu and choose a special font which you can download for free which will turn ordinary text into a barcode label.

I’ve already got these printed out so let’s switch back over to Standard Time, press the F4 key, we’re going to scan. The very first thing you’ll do when scanning is to scan a user name. You see it show up there and then scan the work order and then a task. That starts the timer, you see the status there where it started and in the background you see a new time log that was created, so we know that the timer is running.

This is person has presumably started their work, they may want to walk off and start it so they can clear the screen for the next person to come up. You could share a work station or set up work stations with tablets for each user.

Let’s go ahead and scan another user, again we’ll scan that same work order, we’re going to have multiple people working on the same work order then another task. You see another record show up in the background, in the time log view and you see the status for that person. We can clear the display, another person could walk up at some point. The user then is going to end their work, they could start by scanning their name, and they see the status of the job that they’re working on. That always occurs when the scan you user name and then you would scan stop. That stops the timer, clears the display, another user can walk up, you see the status for that user and then we’re going to stop that.

Those are the very basics of setting up Standard Time for work orders and then tasks and then scanning those and seeing the results in the time log.

From http://www.stdtime.com      

Task Management and Resource Allocation


In this video I’m going to take a look at a task management technique called resource allocation. In resource allocation you are looking into the future to see where you’re human and material resources are being used or allocated. In this case we’re going to specifically look at the number of resources required for a set of projects or tasks. Let’s take a look at Standard Time® on the screen.

Here in Standard Time® I’m using the resource allocation window in a sort-of modeless way out here on the outside. While I work on things in Standard Time the resource allocation window is waiting for some updates. I’m dragging some projects around, you can see the changes that occur in the resource allocation window to reflect those changes to the project; the bars are updating.

Just as a way of orientation – I happen to be looking at the resource requirements choice. There are other choices but the resource requirement allows me to see how many resources would be needed for a certain project or set of tasks. I happen to be looking at all projects for the in-house user work group. As those projects are slid around or moved around then you see the affect that it would have on resource allocation. I’m trying to find that sweet spot where the resource requirements meet my needs.

Let me show you how I configured this. I’ll close this window and reopen it so that you see. The first thing that you see in the Standard Time window is this Gantt chart and I configured that by going to the view menu and choosing columns. You can see Gantt here on the column on the right. If I click remove this is the natural state and you’ll see the columns you can put into view and Gantt is on the left. You’ll find it on the left, you’ll click add, then you’ll click move up and down and move it into position where ever you like it. That’s how I have it displayed here. Now you see the individual tasks; I can move them around, they update the resource allocation window. Which I can view by going to the View menu and choosing project resource allocation. Dragging those tasks around would then update that window.

From http://www.stdtime.com      

Tool Control For the Shop Floor


If you’ve been on our YouTube channel you’ll know that Standard Time®, which you see in the background, is a nice time and materials tracker, project manager. For shop floor, manufacturing, inventory control, those sorts of things. I’m going to demonstrate a completely different feature which is tool control. If you have specialized tools on the shop floor that you would like to keep track of, you need a tool tracker. That’s what we’re going to take a look at.

There are barcodes that you can use to scan a tool out and assign that to an operator. And then scan back in to bring the tool back into stock. Now you have some tool accountability. Operators scan them out, scan them back in, managers know who scanned them out, when they were scanned out, where they are and then when the tool returns then it’s placed back into stock. In addition to the time and materials, project management, inventory, those sorts of things we’re going to take a look at the tool controls features in Standard Time.

In Standard Time® we’re going to want to check some tools in and out. Let’s go ahead and press F4 to open the barcode window. You know this is where you would scan time and expenses for your project tasks and so on, work orders. But in this case, for this video, we’re going to work with tools and tool control.

Let’s scan a couple of tools to see their status. We’ve got this tool is in stock and available and that one also available. Let’s go ahead and check these out. I’m going to start by scanning a user name and then again I’ll scan a tool that is in stock. Let’s go ahead and check that tool out; that is now checked out by Buzz and the second tool is also checked out.

These tools are now in my care; I’m expected to bring them back in somewhat the same shape that I got them from. Let’s take a look at the admin side of this, see what an administrator would see for these tools. I’m going to go up to the tools menu and choose tool control. You see a lot of other items in this tools menu like projects, clients, users, categories, inventory, a lot of other kind of expenses and meetings and things like that. There’s a lot more you can do here. But let’s take a look at tool control.

This tool that I just checked out has a name, a code, a description, it was a model number, serial number, the location for it. The number of items I have on hand, the cost I have for that and this tool is now checked out by Buzz. It has some actual hours that go along with when I check in and out. We have a nice little history of when this tool was checked in and out and by whom. Down at the bottom you’ve got Preventative Maintenance. I want to do a PM every 480 hours. The last one was done by Frank. You have the next preventative maintenance and the last one and some notes that you would perform when performing a PM.

Scrolling back up here I can take a look at another one of these that I’ve just checked out. A name, a code that I could scan, I could also scan a serial number. You’ve got this checked out by Buzz, got some actual hours there and a little history of when this was checked in and out. That’s what the admin would see. All the tools listed here, the locations, the actual hours, who checked them in and out and a nice little history. Enter all your tools and then start checking them in and out.

Let’s go back over here to Standard Time. Press F4 and we can see this was checked out by Buzz. I’m going to scan my user name and check this back in. It’s now in stock and available and this one is now checked in and available. So I’ve brought the tools back, put them back in the tool bin and they are now available for check out. Back up to tools, tools control and this is where you can administer all your tools. Nice little check in and out feature in Standard Time that goes along with your time and expenses for your project tracking.

For more information: http://www.stdtime.com      

Barcode Expenses and Inventory


In this video let’s take a look at scanning inventory items and then creating expense records from them. Now you may be used to scanning time and materials. In this case we’re going to scan the actual inventory item and then create an expense record from that. That will allow you to use those records in your time and expense reports. That’s go ahead, take a look and see how it works.

Over in Standard Time we’re going to choose tools, inventory to take a look at the relationship between inventory and expense records. You may have seen other videos where we scan inventory items and bill of materials to deduct them from inventory. In this case we’re going to create a new expense record when I scan inventory items.

Let’s choose tools, inventory. I’m going to take a look at this wood panel inventory item. I’ve got a name, a description, an option here that lets me create a new expense anytime this is scanned. This is a very simple scenario, you’ve got a list of inventory items, you want expense records created every time you scan them. Now you’re tracking time and materials and you can include these records in your time and expense reports.

A more advanced scenario would be where you would scan an expense template. That would be in addition to these inventory items. And when you scan that expense template, it would deduct from inventory. So we’re going to take a look at the quantity in stock on each of these items and they will be deducted when we scan. When they drop below the quantity to reorder then we could run a script to reorder/replenish them. That’s close this.

I wanted to take a look at Microsoft Word quickly to show you two labels that I printed out. One is “wood panel” inventory item the other is “display racks” which is an expense template. So that’s the more advanced scenario. Let’s minimize this and press F4 to open up the barcode window. I’m going to scan “wood panel.” When I do it tells me that the wood panel has been deducted from inventory and expense has been added. Let’s close this.

Click on the expenses tab and we see a new record that has been entered here. $249.91, it’s got a description of wood panel. I didn’t scan any other projects or tasks so we’ve got just a raw record that can be used with your time and expense records. That is a simple scenario for how you would scan inventory items and create expense records from them.

A more advanced scenario is where you go over to the time sheet; click on this gray dropdown and go to the expense sheet. Open up a project and look at expense templates. Expense templates let you fill out a lot more fields and when you enter quantities for those they create expense records from those templates. You can also scan them and when you do it will deduct from inventory. So the metal rack that we saw over in inventory will be deducted when I scan “display racks.” Let’s close this.

Press F4. This time I’ll scan my name first then scan display racks. We’ve got a little status telling me that I did that successfully. I’ll close this, go over to expenses. We’ve got a new record here, when I open that it’s a $179 plus some tax $193.55. Got a description of display racks, that was the name I scanned for expense template. In this case I’ve got a few other fields that are filled out from that expense template. You can fill out the entire template and that will transfer over to the expense record. You can use these records for your time and expense reports.

Two different scenarios where you can go into inventory, scan them and create new expenses from them.

See more at: www.stdtime.com 

Work Orders and Data Collection


If you’re in manufacturing, chances are your processes run on work orders.

Have you considered using a planning and data collection tool built just for manufacturing?

Standard Time® is perfect!

-          Check employee availability

-          Create custom or standard tasks for each work order

-          Collect data with barcode scanners

-          Track key performance indicators

-          Show it all on a big screen on the shop floor

Download a trial today!



Also see: Press Releases



Scan Expenses on the Shop Floor


You may already be tracking jobs on the shop floor with Standard Time®

But did you know you can also scan materials and expenses?

-          Are you using materials for products? Scan them.

-          Using inventory. Scan it too.

-          Bill of materials? Yep, scan them!

Everything you scan is recorded and ready for Key Performance Indicators, which you can bring into Excel with an Add-on.

Let’s start today!





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