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Time Tracking Strategies

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  • Time Tracking Strategies

    RM (Monroe, GA) posted a series of questions about time tracking to the CMA members-only online discussion forum.

    Does anyone do time studies on how long it takes you or your employees to do certain task in the shop? If so how do you do this? An app or pen and paper? Do you track per job or per cabinet? We are working on the flow in our shop, and I know that this is one of the major points in flow manufacturing.

    He got many responses, and we’re sharing a condensed round-up of that feedback (edited for length and clarity).

    RA (Reidsville, NC)

    We started out with each guy writing down his time on each project in a small notebook each day, kept them at the time clock. We've been using a program called Cabinet Shop Maestro for a few months now; it’s based off-site so the guys can use the shop iPad or their own smartphone to log the time spent on each task.

    It also helps keep up with the different jobs and schedules. I can check in from anywhere and see the progress. It'll do a lot more than we are using it for presently, but we're trying to ease into each step so no one gets overwhelmed in learning to use it.

    We are still learning, but it is helping tremendously. It will do a lot more than we are currently taking advantage of, but as mentioned, we are easing into it so that we're not overwhelmed in the process.

    We pay $150 a month, but it’s worth it so far.

    CB (Memphis, TN)

    I keep track of all time spent on a job. I keep a clipboard at my bench, and I separate my time according to what task I'm working on. Since I'm the only full-time employee (I have one part-time guy), this is easy to do. I can go back at the end of a job and quickly see how much time I spent overall and how much time I spent, say, assembling boxes.

    GB (Atlanta, GA)

    We use our ERP system (Tradesoft's ShopPAK) to log everything automatically. It works very well, and I can see our historical labor going back over the years.

    I also used Klok software in the past (more than five years ago), and I thought it was quite nice.

    DB (Charlottesville, VA)

    As a one-man operation, I use an app on my phone called Timesheet. You can create tasks, enter time for a task manually or use the timer function. You can even enter breaks, notes and expenses. It will export to a spreadsheet, so I can use the info to help me with pricing. I track my time on each job by task.

    I'm curious, though: How do others break down the different tasks? Do you separate out cutting to case parts to size, for example, or do you lump that together with machining dados, line boring, constructions holes, etc.? I want to take a look at analyzing the data and updating my pricing while also incorporating that into my design software. Currently, I use a spreadsheet I created a number of years ago, and I want to speed that up/automate that as much as I can.

    CB answered DB's question:

    I separate all the different tasks by "clocking in and out" on my clipboard. Each job is a little bit different, but they still have the same basic tasks. For me, cutting sheets is different from machining the parts, but I lump cutting dadoes and line boring holes together. The hardest part was what to do when I spent 20 minutes on a phone call that didn't have anything to do with the job I was working on.

    GP (Canton, NC)

    I do time studies all the time – detailed and general.

    A general time study is along the lines of “Log how much time you spend making doors for Sammy’s kitchen.”

    Rarely, I’ll do a detailed time study, such as “track how many minutes it takes you to do every task in making a door” – tracking set up, machining, sanding, etc.

    A general study helps me with costs, where as a detailed study helps me see what the most inefficient part of the process is.

    Detailed studies also help me in creating a cost composite. If there’s something we haven’t done before, I have a record of the time it takes to do all the steps, and therefore can figure out a cost with a bit of guesstimating factored in, too.

    For what it’s worth, I never do the time study myself. I always have our employees do it, as they’re the real deal.

    Also, my time studies are old school – pen, paper, stop watch.

    BD (Gallatin, MO)

    Yes, I do time studies in two ways – first, I track how long it takes me to do a task, and second, I track how long it takes one of my employees to do the same task.

    Also, I use a program called Tsheets, which you may be familiar with. I use this extensively to keep tabs on how I'm coming out on my time estimates — on a given kitchen project, if 10.6 hours is the estimate for cabinet boxes, and it takes an experienced employee 18-20 hours, I'm definitely going to be having a visit about that! What happened?! But if their total time comes in at 14 hours, that's within my efficiency allowance. If they are routinely turning out cabinets at my 10.6 time slot, they get a defini
    Last edited by Amanda Conger; 02-18-2019, 07:53 AM.

  • #2
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