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Production

Production Orders

Every time you want to use Factory Superstar to help you with making an item, you create a Production Order. When creating a Production Order you're basically saying 'I want this X quantity of this item made by a particular date'.

A Production Order deals with Definitions, so anything with a Definition (see Inventory->Definitions) can have a Production Order, and can therefore be produced.

If a Definition has a sub-assembly, and this has a sub-assembly, etc., then when you add the initial Definition there will only be one Production Order even though the system will organise the production of the sub-assemblies, and the sub-sub-assemblies, if they're out of stock.

Production Order Index

When you click on Production it shows you the Prodution Order index. This is a list of all the outstanding Prodution Orders that you need to process. They're listed in order of Due Date, with the higher priority orders nearer the top of the page.

You'll notice that the 'Ordered / Due' column is colour-coded. This lets you know how urgently you need to deal with that Production Order.

Colour Coding

When you first open a Factory Superstar account, the colour coding is:

  • Due in less than 7 days = red
  • Due between 7-14 days = yellow
  • Due in more than 14 days = green You can change these by going to Settings > Company Details > Colour Coding.

Each product in the Production Order is shown in a separate row. You'll see that there are three columns to the right of the table - 'Status', 'Earliest', and 'Dispatch'.

'Status' refers to the Production Status of the product. It can be:

  • waiting for subcomponent: A sub-component needs to be in stock before work on the actual item ordered can commence.
  • in demand: The item ordered (and not a sub-component) is currently in production.
  • in stock: The Production Order has been completed and the items it made are in stock (note that once a Production Order is completed it no longer shows in the index unless you click 'view all')
  • consumed: The Production Order was completed, but is no longer available - it's either been used as a sub-component in another assembly, or else been sold.

'Earliest' gives an estimate of when the product can be in stock. This is calculated using the processing time, stock count of required subcomponents, and historic lead times when a subcomponent is out of stock.

If the Earliest the product will be in stock is after the due date, it'll be colour coded red (see Settings->Colour Coding to adjust).

warning

'Earliest' means the earliest the product can be in stock. That is, if you forget everything else and just focus on that order. It does not take into account any other orders that have a higher priority, or staff vacations, holiday shut downs, etc.

There's nothing worse than a computer that tries to be too clever, so with Factory Superstar we draw a line here. No one knows your business better than your team so we just flag any potential issues and leave it to you to decide how to proceed.

Adding a Production Order

There are a few ways you can add a Production Order in Factory Superstar:

  • Through Production->Production Orders->Add Production Order
  • When you add an item to a Sales Order, and click the 'make-to-order if out of stock' button.
  • Through the Inventory, when you add a quantity to the Adjust field of a 'made' component, and click 'Add to Re-Order'

You need to add the quantity, select the item you want to make, and a due date.

When a Production Order has been added, Factory Superstar checks if all the sub-components are in stock. If they're not then it will tell you to either make them (via the relevant 'Process' page) or purchase them.

Processes

Processes are the processes you use to make things in your workshop. If you make cakes the processes might be: measuring ingredients, mixing ingredients, baking, decorating.

Every Process has its own page (see Production->Processes->click a Process). Everything that you make needs to have a Process. When that thing is being made, it will show on the relevant Process page, where it will tell you exactly what needs to be done to make it (if there are other items to be made using the same process, it will prioritise them by due date). When it's been completed you click the big green button, which updates the system - and Factory Superstar will arrange what needs to be done next.

So Processes organise your work - they tell you what to do, and in what order it needs to be done.

They're also used to calculate labour costs.

Hourly Rates

Every Process takes time. Time is money. But how much money? This is where Production->Hourly Rates come in.

Every Process has an Hourly Rate, and when you add a Definition to the system you can specify the Process Time - how long it takes to make any components made using that Definition.

Factory Superstar uses the Hourly Rate together with the Process Time to work out the Labour Cost of anything you make (remember you can add the Process Time to a Definition in equation form, so Factory Superstar can calculate the Process Time even for configurable items).

note

In Factory Superstar we call it 'Labour Cost' which implies that it's only used to track people's wages, but you can use anything for the Hourly Rate - it could be people's wages, or it could be how much it costs to run a particular machine or production line per hour.

Digitising the Factory Floor

The Processes in Factory Superstar allow you to transform your workshop into a high-tech one without making large investments in machinery. They're the link between Factory Superstar and your production team.

One of the main attractions to Factory Superstar to many businesses is that you can easily and cheaply digitise the Factory Floor.

Setting Up Screens in your Factory

Factory Superstar is a powerful software package, but it is online - it is basically a website. So to set up screens in your workshop you just need:

  • An internet connection (i.e. WiFi)
  • A device that can view websites

You can use any device that can view websites (though we recommend you don't use the Internet Explorer browser found in very old PCs).

A tablet computer is the easiest and quickest to set up and we usually recommend it. It doesn't need to be an expensive at all - the cheap ones are usually more than adequate. You can get brackets with which you can connect them to a wall or workstation.

If it's your team (rather than yourself) that's going to be using the screens you can set up 'kiosk mode' (just search the relevant App Store for a 'kiosk mode' app). This will lock the screen to a particular website (i.e. app.factorysuperstar.com) so all they can view is the system.

You can add an 'operator' account for each screen that you use (Settings->Users). By default an Operator can view any Process, but you can restrict an Operator to a particular Process (Settings->Users->click an Operator account->Restrict to Process).

tip

You need to train your team:

  • Top is highest priority - do these first.
  • When complete, click the big green button.
  • If you can't complete that order (maybe a sub-component is damaged), click the big red button.

You can also add notes to a specific Process in any Production Order (Production (or Sales Order)->click on dropdown item component tree->click 'Add Note' next to the Process). The note will appear in big red writing on the relevant Process (e.g. 'Jim - make sure you weld the tab on the right way this time').

Now, whenever you add a Production Order the system tells your team what to do and when. It also means you can see exactly what's going on with production - and interact with it - from anywhere in the world.

caution

By default, Factory Superstar colour codes the items in Processes according to their due date (as per Settings->Company Details->Colour Coding).

While this is often effective, there's a psychological aspect that you need to consider:

  • If everything is colour coded in terms of priority, will your team slow down their pace if there's nothing 'high priority'?

You can disable the colour coding for Processes (Settings->Company Details->Colour Coding->Colour code components to be processed by priority?).