Job coding is imperative for a successful labor management system; without it, you will be able to see only 50-70% of the work performed in your operation. In today’s hyper-competitive supply chain, that missing visibility can have a major impact on your operations. If your operation’s annual labor spend is $5 million, not using job codes can cause you to lose sight of $1.5 – $2.5 million of that labor cost.
Modern labor management systems need to incorporate job coding to enable employees to track their time on processes not tracked by your Warehouse Management System. Based on our experience, here are the 5 must-haves in your job coding system for effective tracking.
1. Easy to use
Anytime you roll out a new data capture system, you will experience push back from supervisors and employees who say they don’t have time to use it. The job coding system needs to be quick and easy to use. It should only take a few clicks to set the job code and get to work. We have seen job coding incorporated into time clock systems that requires 30 seconds for the employee to log a job code. That may not sound like a lot, but it multiplies quickly if you have team project and 30 people need to log into the production line and enter the job code. All of a sudden, you have many man hours of downtime spent waiting to enter job codes. Additionally, most work environments have employees who speak different languages, so a complex job coding system would require extra training. It needs to be easy to use.
2. Multiple kiosks or mobile-enabled
If employees have to walk a long distance to enter their job codes, more often than not, they won’t be entered. The ideal setup is to have the job coding built into the WMS and on the scan guns, but having inexpensive kiosks where the work is being performed is also essential. Spending $500 for a kiosk entry point is significantly cheaper than the money you would lose having employees walk to enter their job codes. It is amazing how quickly those minutes add up. Let’s assume an employee enters 2 job codes a day, and it takes a minute to walk to the job coding kiosk. For each employee, that would be 4 minutes a day, 80 minutes a month, and 960 minutes a year spent walking to and from the job code entry point. At a loaded cost of $25 per hour, that is $400 per person per year spent on this wasted time.
3. Ability to track direct processes and associated production metrics
There are several direct processes that are performed in warehouse operations that are often not tracked. Examples include receiving and kitting. Both of these processes are labor intensive and should be tracked. It is important that your job coding system have the ability to track both direct and indirect work processes. For direct processes, it should also have the ability for employees to enter their production metrics. In the example of receiving, these metrics could be cases, splits, SKU’s, and pallets. This data can then be used to develop the labor standards in your labor management system and track productivity.
4. Integrates with your Labor Management System
In an effort to keep things simple, it is vital that the job coding system integrate with your labor management system both on the setup configuration and on the data export. The setup configuration integration is helpful in that it eliminates the requirement of maintaining another independent data system. More maintenance means more opportunities for errors. Additionally, the tracked data on the job coding system needs to be integrated with your labor management system. We have seen a tendency for closed environments with LMS’s. This means that all data sources need to be under one brand label – they do not work with external data systems. With the explosion of new data sources coming online with iOT (internet of things), this is just not practical in the long run. Be sure to look for an LMS that integrates with external systems such as a job coding.
5. Ability to assign and track team projects
Many times the work flow in a warehouse operation requires more than one person. Container devanning and kitting projects are two common examples. Team projects are commonplace, and it is important that your job coding system has the ability to assign work projects to both teams and individuals. Otherwise you will be missing important work flow information in your analytics.
Job coding is an essential part of a comprehensive labor management system. Following these tips will help you set up a job coding system that gives you improved visibility of your operation’s labor costs.