An easy route to establishing a paperless machine shop

 If you’re looking to cut costs and improve the efficiency of your machine shop, going paperless is an excellent option, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy-to-access routes for moving your processes online that will ensure that your team is happier and more productive, and that will make your business more cost-effective.

The perils of paper

From purchase orders to invoices, manufacturing travelers to tooling catalogues, paper often plays a key role in the ability of a machine shop to receive orders, buy raw materials, purchase consumables, produce parts, ship them out of the door and get paid.

This reliance on paper, however, can create significant issues. Humans, by their very nature, are prone to error and the need to write things down can lead to content that is illegible, transposed data and – even – data being faked. Further, these issues can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Manufacturing travelers, for instance, are supposed to serve as blueprints for the parts that you produce, but they often comprise a set of unwieldy, confusing and barely readable instructions that baffle operators—leading to mistakes that cost you money.

The benefits of going paperless

In paperless workplaces, by contrast, management can monitor the machines running on the shopfloor and their inventories of materials, tools consumables and finished parts, remotely—enabling them to plan work quickly and efficiently. Machine operators, meanwhile, are granted instant access to the information, tools and materials that they need to complete their work—eliminating time spent deciphering that traveler or roaming the shopfloor looking for that elusive end mill or the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for them to carry-out their jobs safely.

Starting with a clean sheet

Adopting a paperless approach in your machine shop can be a daunting prospect, but there are some easy places to start. Machine shops of all sizes are adopting cloud-based software to manage their inventories of tools, equipment, assets and PPE. These intuitive and proven solutions are affordable for even the smallest and specialised of machine shops, and they are quick and easy to set-up.

Increasing automation

Using inventory-management software, the ordering of tools and consumables is automated, and these items can be tracked from their point of delivery to their destination on the shop floor—slashing administration costs.

The dispensing of tools and consumables can also be automated using smart vending machines, which will keep track of their contents. To take out a tool, a user might need to use a unique pin code or swipe card and they might even be able to link this activity to one or more jobs. The machine logs withdrawals automatically and you can view and analyse records of items taken out of the machine, by whom, when and for what reason.

Combined, these systems guarantee that the right tool for a given job will be in stock when it is needed—making production delays a thing of the past.

Cutting the paper trail

All of this is achieved without creating a messy, confusing and expensive trail of paperwork. The information needed by management and production operatives is displayed through a clean, clear and easy to use interface.

Adopting a paperless approach for your machine shop need not be a daunting task; it can be broken-down into manageable chunks of work. Implementing cloud-based inventory management software is a great place to start. To find out how CRIBWISE can help you on your journey to establishing a paperless machine shop drop us a line below or visit our downloads section here and read our white paper on the hidden costs of the factory floor.