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Why to Embrace Paperless Manufacturing For Task Assignment

Cloud-based manufacturing software creates a paperless manufacturing environment that streamlines your workflow and keeps doc

When assigning tasks to operators on the shop floor, the top priority is to establish and maintain a clean, prioritized work list. If operators can walk into the shop, pick up their list of tasks for the day, listed step-by-step in priority order — with all of the resources and information they need to execute those tasks — you’re in a good place.

The Common Case For Machine Shops Today

Unfortunately, the common case for many shops today is still to hand workers a stack of papers from the production manager’s desk or to rely on whiteboards or Excel spreadsheets where each field must be updated manually. The production manager may find themselves staying late or coming in early to pour over a never-ending stream of upcoming work, keep things sorted, print out neat stacks for each employee, and double-check it all to make sure nothing is misplaced or out of order. It’s a lot of work. 

Business As Usual in Task Assignment Is Inefficient

A paper-and-spreadsheet-based workflow like this has many pitfalls. For instance:

  • Bottlenecks: The production manager becomes a bottleneck to the workflow. Every single assigned task must go manually through their hands. 
  • Interruptions: At the same time, operator and engineer questions are constantly interrupting the manager’s progress on organizing upcoming tasks.
  • Loss of Visibility: Paper routers — a common solution to this workload — are roughly functional, but cost the shop a lot of visibility on work in progress states.
  • Lost Documents: Paper trails make it possible for important documents or steps to get lost, creating more downtime as the information must be found or printed again.
  • Misalignment: There’s no simple way to roll out changes across the shop for a process. Paper doesn’t update for everyone in the shop, all at once.
  • No Place For Feedback: There’s no forum for operator feedback and generally less ability to communicate and stay on the same page.

How to Go Paperless in Manufacturing

You can introduce true efficiency into your documentation workflow by creating a paperless manufacturing environment with modern manufacturing cloud solutions. 

A smooth handoff from planning to production requires a neat, up-to-date, prioritized list of work for the day that’s easily accessible right from the shop floor. Cloud-based manufacturing software like StartProto streamlines the task delegation process by letting your team carefully define the Bill of Operations (BOO) and Bill of Materials (BOM) for a part, then breaking it down into clear and actionable operation instructions.

This enables the efficient and effective distribution of tasks to the appropriate shop workers and promotes a productive and streamlined workflow. All tasks become:

  • Nicely aggregated into a neat to-do list
  • Easily visible from anywhere in the shop
  • Organized into sequential steps that can’t be shuffled or lost
  • Expandable with additional resources needed (drawings, set up sheets, 3D models, etc.)
  • More likely to receive status updates from the floor due to speed and simplicity
  • A source of confidence and knowledge rather than requests for more information

This eliminates the back-and-forth with management and gets your operators right to work. They can come in each morning, pick up a tablet or scan through their tasks on a laptop, and have easy, instant access to a pre-made list of the day’s work from top to bottom.

Better yet, your paperless manufacturing system works just as well to facilitate everything upstream in the workflow that precedes the operator. The bill of materials aggregates a convenient list of materials needed and tells the purchasing team what to order, keeping you a step ahead of production so your operators aren’t sitting around waiting for materials to arrive with idle machines. Work definition and routing are accelerated with the ability to input and update pre-existing parts in the system — even from jobs completed years ago that have renewed relevance for a returning customer.

Get started with StartProto today for free and see for yourself how a paperless manufacturing system can accelerate your workflow and keep operations running smoothly from the quote to the shipment of finished goods.

Tim Felbinger

Founder & CEO