This might seem like a simple to answer question but it isn’t. The majority of custom manufactures around the world are smaller companies with 30 or less employees, and sometimes paper is the easiest and least expensive ways to manage workflows and operate their business.
Paper work orders and spreadsheets can work well for HIGH MIX / LOW VOLUME manufactures; however much depends on the volume of work. If your production team works on one order for a full day or more then workload management isn’t too complicated. If your production team works on multiple orders each day then managing the workload with paper becomes more difficult but might not be a hinderance to the growth or your job shop.
Benefits of Paper Work Orders
- Simple to use
- Paper can work your way
- Easy to read
- Cheap (does depend on how much paper is used)
- Can be easy to organize
Obviously, paper works as the majority of small manufactures still use paper to create orders and organize their workflows. As companies grow, they eventually get to a place where they have to change and adapt. Moving off of paper work orders can be a great first start, if you have the following issues:
- Too much time managing workload
- Errors due to improper order entry or not enough information for production
- Too much walking around
- Lost Orders
- Late on orders
- Not knowing what is being done or where an order or the paperwork is
- Production volume needs to increase
- Team not knowing what needs to done next
There are many ways to get off of paper, but the most common for custom manufactures is some kind of an ERP / MRP / Workflow management system / or Work load scheduling software. What system is right for you is another blog post. These systems can help your company become more organized and streamline part or all of your business. Some systems can be very complicated and hard to implement, but are designed for larger organizations.
Once you have made the decision to utilize a system or tool to get off paper you may find many benefits. That being said you want to ensure you find and use the best system for your business. Just make sure that the system you use if right for your business and works the way you need it to. Custom manufacturing can be an exciting business, but there are many moving parts and it is always more complicated than people realize.
If you can find the right system and get off of spreadsheets and paper work orders you should see following things happen at your business.
- Higher Quality Orders
- More Production
- Less Errors
- Better Employee Engagement
- Faster Turnaround Times
- More Customer Satisfaction
- Visibility to workload
- Time spent on every product
- More Money on your bottom line
Going from paper based process to a digital solution isn’t for all businesses. Once you reach that point the benefits out weight paper in too many ways to quantify.