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Definitions ('Made' Components)

'Made' components are items that your business makes.

By 'make' we mean applying some process to modify something.

tip

Factory Superstar doesn't care how complicated your process is:

Let's say you order some object from China, and all you do is slap a sticker on it and put it in a cardboard box. You'd still make a process for this (maybe call it 're-packaging', or something like that), with the final 'made' component consisting of the original component, a sticker, and a cardboard box, plus however much labour time it cost to process.

This may seem too simple to input into a system like Factory Superstar, but it means you always have the right amount of cardboard boxes and stickers, know exactly how much it cost to produce (including labour), and can effectively track exactly what you have in stock (how many completed items, how many uncompleted, how many cardboard boxes, etc.), amongst other things.

A 'made' component can't just be added to the inventory in the same way you'd add a 'bought' component. This is because it may comprise multiple subcomponents joined together or modified by a process. So we first need to 'define' the component. That's why we call 'made' components 'Definitions'.

Definitions are what makes Factory Superstar exceptional, for a few reasons:

  • A single Definition can be used to make a large amount of different components (i.e. it can make items of different sizes).
  • Anything made using a particular Definition can be used as a subcomponent in another Definition.
  • If one Definition is used as a subcomponent (or a sub- sub-component even), it can be configured that you only need to specify the parameters of the parent component and it will automatically configure the subcomponents.

These concepts are best illustrated by example.

Before setting up your first definition, note that there's a there's a simple but un-noticed rule that is followed when manufacturing anything: You can't make something out of nothing. The implication this has is that in order to make something you need to have a 'bought' component, and perform some process to modify it.

Add a Definition

To add a Definition, go to Inventory->Definitions->Add Definition. The form presented is much the same as adding a 'bought' item, though less detailed.

Add a name, Category, and Location.

Process

Select the relevant Process that is used to make that Definition (to add Processes, go to Production->Processes->Add Process).

The things that are to be produced using a particular Process will be shown on one page (Production->Processes, which you can display at the relevant workstation in your workshop, if you like). Also, each Process can have a different labour cost per hour, with the cost per hour being used to calculate the total cost of a component.

Is this Component for sale?

If the component is for sale you will see it when you go to add an item to a Sales Order. It can be used as a subcomponent in another Definition regardless of whether it's for sale or not.

Quick Definition

A 'Quick Definition' is configured by dragging and dropping subcomponents and sub-processes. It's quick and easy, but you can't configure the component that it outputs (e.g. it can only generate a component with a single length, or single colour).

If you leave this box un-checked, it creates a standard Definition. For a standard Definition you configure only the direct subcomponents (so will need to make a new Definition for every sub-process). Standard Definitions can be slower to create, but since the components they output can be configured in a number of ways they're incredibly versatile.

When just starting out, best to leave this box un-checked so you can see the power of the standard Definitions.

Configuring a Definition

Go to the relevant page for a Definition Inventory->Definitions->click on a Definition. You will see multiple boxes.

Variables

note

You can only add Variables if it's a standard definition (if you've selected 'this component is a Quick Definition', or if it is defined from a Custom Item via a Quote or Sales Order you can't add Variables).

Variables are one of the things that give Factory Superstar its power.

A Variable is just as the name suggests - something that may vary.

Variables enable you to create Definitions that can vary, e.g. if you make Dining Tables then you can have a single style defined in a Definition (every table made by that Definition has the same legs, same depth), but since you have a blank Variable for 'length' then you can make that table in whatever length you need (Factory Superstar will work out the inventory and costs for any custom table, and also tell your team what to make via Production->Processes). Variable values can be used to work out Sub-Component Variable values too.

When you add a Variable to a Definition, they can either have a value (see below), or you can leave the value blank. The values of Variables are numeric.

There are also Multiselect Variables. These are Variables where, instead of defining a numeric value (e.g. length = 100 cm), you choose from several options (e.g. colour = red, blue, green).

Variables with no value

When adding a Variable to a Definition, you can leave the value as blank. Leaving the value blank means that the Definition can be used to make Components with many different configurations, and the Variable value must be specified when ordering a Component from the Definition.

You can order a Component from the Definition in two ways:

  • Through a Production Order (remember that Production Orders can be made directly through Sales Orders, for made-to-order items)
  • By using the Definition as a Sub-Component in another Definition.

If ordering a Component through the Definition from a Production Order, Factory Superstar will directly ask you to input a numerical value for the blank Variable.

If using the Definition as a Sub-Component in another Definition, when you add the Sub-Definition Factory Superstar will ask you to provide a value for the blank Variable. For this you can either provide a numerical value (e.g. 1234), or if the parent Definition has Variables defined you can use one of the parent Definition's variables. This is what we mean when we say that Variables can be 'passed down'.

Variables with a defined value (Variables you can't 'vary')

Even though the name 'Variable' means it can vary, you can just set a variable equal to a number if you want. So click 'add variable', then add a number for the variable (e.g. depth = 50 cm).

This may seem pointless (as it can't vary), but the benefit is that when the Definition is being used to make something then this Variable will show up on the Process screen - this might make things simpler for your workshop team.

example

You make tabletops. Your definition allows the customer to choose the length, but only depth you offer for this particular tabletop is 60 cm.

You add a Production Order for 1x tabletop at 100 cm long. If the only variable was 'length' then only the value for length will show up on the Process screen - your team might get confused as to what depth to make it.

If, however, you specify that depth = 60 cm, then the Process screen will show: length = 100 cm, depth = 60 cm.

Also, variables that can't 'vary' will still be passed down to Sub-Components, so you can use them there too if required.

example

Some things, like Variables, are best explained by example:

Let's say you're a furniture maker, and make tables. You have a particular design for a desk that uses the same legs, same tabletop, but you offer a range of sizes. You could add a variable called 'length', and leave it blank for now. (If you leave the value blank in the Definition, whenever you add a Production Order for the item Factory Superstar will ask you to specifiy the length).

When you go to add subcomponents (for example the table frame, or the table top), you can pass down that 'length' variable.

So, you've added a Production Order for a table. Factory Superstar asks you what length. You enter 150 cm. You have no tables with length 150 cm in stock. So Factory Superstar looks to see what Sub-Components you need to make a 150 cm table. The Sub-Components know that 'length = 150 cm'. They can specify their own Sub-Components by something like: the length of the support strut on the frame is equal to the table length minus 25 cm.

Multiselect Variables

Multiselect Variables are Variables where, instead of defining a numeric value (e.g. length = 100 cm), you choose from several options (e.g. colour = red, blue, green).

You can then configure particular Sub-Components to be used only when a particular Multiselect Variable option has been selected.

example

Make a Definition, let's call it 'table leg'.

It has a Variable called height, which has been left blank (which means the user will input what length is required when ordering the item to be manufactured).

It also has a Multiselect Variable called colour. This has options: red, blue, black.

It has two Sub-Components:

  • The first is a wooden leg blank - un cut. In the relationship between the table leg and this Sub-Component, the length of the Sub-Component has been set equal to length. This means that the length of the Sub-Component will be whatever value the user types in for the table leg length.

  • The second Sub-Component is paint. But the colour of paint will depend on whatever option the user has selected for colour. So we add red paint as a Sub-Component, and where it says 'Choose whether you'd like this sub-component to be used for all components generated by the definition, or specific ones', select Colour = red. This means that when you go to order the table leg, this red paint will only be used when the colour option is red.

    Note that you'll also want to specify the volume of paint used. This will of course vary with the length of the leg. You can insert an equation for the paint.volume Variable of this Sub-Component, which will allow the system to accurately calculate how much paint you should use. (To do this you would probably work out the surface area to be painted, then multiply it with the paint consumption per unit surface area. Remember you can type the equation into the Variable box and let Factory Superstar do the calculating e.g. paint.volume = (length*0.75*4)+(0.75*8) ml)

Parameters

'Parameters' are used to calculate properties of any Components generated from a Definition.

Basically - every Component, whether 'bought' or 'made' can have a process time (or lead time, for a 'bought' item), and packing dimensions. The Parameters are used to work out what these should be for any Component made using a particular Definition.

Remember that a Definition can be used to generate any number of Components, each with different variable values (e.g. length = 120 cm, length = 150 cm, etc.). So these Parameters can be defined using Variables.

Example

If the Definition doesn't have any Variables defined, then it makes sense to just use numbers for the Parameters. So say the Definition is used to make a chair. The parameters might be:

  • Process Time = 1 hour
  • Packing Length = 50 cm ...

If the Definition does have Variables defined (i.e. can be used to make products of different configurations), you can use Variables and equations for the Parameters. So the Parameters might be:

  • Process Time = (length / 60) + 150 hours
  • Packing Length = length cm ...
tip

Note that even without Variables defined you can use equations to define Parameters.

The value for Process Time is in the unit 'hours', but what if your process time is measured in minutes rather than hours? Instead of having to get your calculator out you can just type an equation and let Factory Superstar work it out.

So if your Process Takes 1 minute, instead of writing:

  • Process Time = 0.0167 hours

You can write:

  • Process Time = 1/60 hours

You can use the following characters for equations: + - * / ()

Sub-Components

Remember, you can't make something from nothing. So for any Definition you'll want to add Sub-Components.

Scroll down to Sub-Components. Click 'Add Sub-Component'. Select the Sub-Component.

Fill in the fields.

Name

This is optional. It just makes the Sub-Component more readible if required.

example

Let's say the Definition is for an assembly, and the Sub-Component is a bolt. The bolt is in the inventory as '40 mm M8 coach bolt self colour', but in your assembly drawing it's called 'large bolt'. Put 'large bolt' as the name and when the process is displaying to the worker what they need to assembly the Definition it will say 'large bolt'.

Variables

If the Sub-Component is a 'bought' item, you'll need to specify how many units needed. The units are based on the 'Each Unit Contains / Units' values you entered when adding the 'bought' item.

So if the Sub-Component is 'bought' item 'lacquer', and the units are 5000 millilitres, then when adding it as a Sub-Component you'll want to define how much lacquer you'll need for the item you're defining.

Adding a 'bought' item as a Sub-Component

warning

Using a 'bought' item as a Sub-Component in Factory Superstar is usually straightforward, but there are several nuances which demand attention. These are usually solved by adding an intermediate Definition which covers the initial processing of the 'bought' item.

Units vs. Quantity

If you are adding a 'bought' item directly as a Sub-Component, you'll only be able to specify how many total units of that 'bought' item you want per Sub-Component - you won't be able to specify how many individual packs of those units.

For example, if the Sub-Component is a plank of wood, and you need 5x 100 cm planks per Definition, then writing 500 cm for 'length' means you need '500 cm of wood'. This is not the same thing as saying you need 5x planks of wood, each 100 cm long.

To tell Factory Superstar you need the latter you need to a separate Definition for 'cut to size wood'. This might have a single blank Variable ('length'), and a single Sub-Component (the 'bought' item: 'plank of wood, uncut'). You can then add this 'cut to size wood' as a Sub-Component to the original Definition, and this way can specify the length required for each plank, and also a quantity.

First process, multiple variables

Let's say you buy in big panels of wood. These panels have dimensions length, breadth, and thickness. These panels are 'bought' items - you can't specify variables other than the 'Each Unit Contains / Units' values you entered when adding the 'bought' item. But these panels undergo a process that modifies all three of these dimensions. What do you do?

First, for the 'Each Unit Contains / Units' we'd recommend you input the length of the panel.

Then, you need to define an intermediate process.

xxxx

Adding a Drawing

Every Definition can have one Drawing added to it. A link to this Drawing will show up on the relevant Process page when any Component made from the Definition is to be made. This makes it easy for your team to know exactly what they need to make without having to remember obscure product IDs or complex assembly diagrams.

At the top of the page of any Definition you'll see a link Add Drawing. Click on it and add a Drawing.

Drawings can be in format: jpeg, png, jpg, gif, svg, and be a maximum of 2 MB in size.

caution

PDF files cannot be uploaded. If you want to use a PDF file as a Drawing you'll need to convert it into one of the above formats before uploading.

You can do this quickly and easily by Googling pdf to jpg and using one of the many free online services available.

Add Variant to Inventory

In order to add a Component generated from a Definition to the Inventory, the Component must be ordered (i.e. through a Production Order).

There are occasions when you will want to add a Component from a Definition to the Inventory without adding a Production Order, for example when you're setting up the system and you already have some of that Component in stock and don't want to order more - that is, you want to just do a Stock Count for that particular Component.

To do this, click 'Add Variant to Inventory' at the top of the page for a particular Definition. The system will then ask you to define any Variables (if applicable). You'll then see that that Component is now in the Inventory and you can specify minimum stock quantities, stock counts, order more, etc.