Let your clock do your work

Friday afternoon … end of the day. The week is almost over and it’s time to sort out the timesheets. Just finish the lists and then these can be handed in. Hopefully I am at 100% this week, because ultimately that’s my goal. For that one order, I needed longer than had been planned in the work preparation. In principle, that isn’t a problem because I had produced yesterday’s order so often that I didn’t need as many hours. The “hours quartet” can start and my weekly list has been completed. In 1995, when I worked in the engineering factory, this is how things went. At the end of every week, the hours had to be justified and the trick was to get to 100% (for calculated hours versus the actual hours spent). During that time, we were also under the illusion that, if you didn’t achieve the 100% each week, this could be detrimental to your annual appraisal. I have heard many discussions in the work preparation office when people found that too few hours had been calculated for a job. I sometimes felt that the discussion about the hours actually took more time that the hours they thought they should have been given for a job. Familiar?

Ultimately, during the implementation of a new ERP package, ‘Shop Floor Control’ was introduced. The work orders were given barcodes and before you started a job, you walked to the clock and you first of all scanned your personnel badge and then the work order. The work could start and if you had a meeting or a training course, you would clock out under an ‘absence code’. Once the job had been completed and a new job could be started, you clocked in the new job and the old job would automatically end and you had to enter the finished quantity. This took quite some doing. You were then no longer able to just adjust your hours so that they were correct. ‘Big Brother is watching you’ many would have thought. What if the hours showed discrepancies? How do I reconcile those by the end of the week? Many objections were raised by those on the shop floor. Ultimately it took years before the ‘human discipline’ was as it should be on the shop floor, where staff were clocking correctly and making sure that incorrect entries were corrected. The company’s intention was to be able to make correct pre-calculations of the products to be produced, to measure efficiency and to obtain insight into the shop floor. Not to check the people! Many companies still work in the old way, with timesheets or other alternatives. They see the shop floor control functionality with clocks as an improvement, enabling them to monitor efficiency. This is, of course, a great goal, but are you aware that the specialists on the shop floor actually think differently about this? I would like to challenge you to think about this, what it actually gives to that person when he or she accurately clocks in the work. What does this person gain from it? This could, of course, have a positive impact on the calculated orders, or an insight into this person’s workload, meaning he or she would have the ability to partly organise their own work… think about it. ‘Quid pro quo’ could help you here; you will see that the acceptance and discipline increase visibly. I am curious …