Why use time and attendance monitoring?

Yes!

Why use time and attendance monitoring with a machine information system?

I mean, you know when your operator is there and when not because they will have clocked in, or not as the case maybe, right?

Ok, so this is not to do with the machine operator. This is time and attendance monitoring of the machine. Time and attendance to production that is.

The ‘time’ factor would represent how much time the machine spends running in production when it can. Also the rest of the time, when it’s not, but possibly could be.

What’s the point? To keep machine production capacity to the most it can be. This is not to be confused with machine efficiency of course. Machine efficiency looks at improving machine throughput when the machine is running in a productive state.

For instance minimising rejects or missed loading. The time and attendance monitoring is looking at the machine use over the time it’s available for production.

Some of the time and attendance monitoring data logged will used elsewhere within the system; ‘time in production’ would be used in part to calculate machine efficiency. But for this specific purpose our system takes all the time data into account. This area will be greatly enhanced and made more useful if some HMI buttons and/or sensors are used to signal what’s going on with the machine.

Of course the accuracy of the data does then rely on the operator signalling the changes at the time they happen, so there is a margin for error. Anyway that won’t matter too much as we will be looking at the time data over a fairly long period of time so any discrepancy should be minimised.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it then. What exactly would we be looking for?
The time and attendance monitoring of ‘in production’ and ‘out of production’ state of the machine is monitored to find out why the machine is not in production. These two main groups can be broken down further into little sub groups and pitched against each other. This will give us a good idea of what the machine spends most of it time doing over a given time period. Useful stuff yeah.

So what are those little sub groups of out of production?
The first I think we should consider is ‘no production’. This would be when production is not possible because of lack of components or parts, which are used for production. So the machine has nothing to put through it for production. For example, no raw material for a CNC milling machine to work on, no paper for a printing press, etc. Even no operator could be a factor here, the point is that no production is possible, but nothing to do with the machine itself.

Next has to be ‘maintenance down time’, this is important to know in any case as manufacturers would want to keep this to a minimum. Preventative maintenance, machine faults and improvement maintenance would be covered by this title. Of course it could be broken down further into these sub divisions depending on the level of information required. This is no production possible due to the machine itself.
Yep! The opposite of the one above.

Right, that covers when production is not possible, so what about when production is possible, from an operational point of view. So we have raw materials, an operator and the machine is operational. Ah ha, the ‘set-up time’. This would be say when a printing press has to have the plates and ink changed for a particular job to be run, or a stacking machine set for the size of books. All machines that have variations to the main task they perform will be subject to some set-up time.

Accurate reporting on set-up times for each machine and operator combinations will tell you which operators are best at setting up which jobs on which machines. This is a very good streamlining avenue to pursue when maximising workforce efficiency. However, moving AND not moving your workforce around can affect their efficiency in doing certain jobs. Remember they’re human and like a change now and then!

Now can the time and attendance monitoring of actual production be broken off further?
Well yes! Say the machine is still set-up from the previous day and has to warm up before production can start. This would be operation that involves materials like glass, the machine would have to warm up and expand to operation temperature, as its tolerances would be different when cold.

So there we have ‘warm up’ time for one, any more?
Oh I think so, what about ‘material changeover’ if a machine can only run a stack of raw material such as paper on a printing machine. When it runs out, it then has to be taken off the other end and a new load put in. All of these little groups that I’m pointing out here are all eroding the time when production is taking place.

It seems quite an imbalance doesn’t it that there should be so many things that in one way or another prevent a production machine actually producing something. Well that’s life as they say!

So, what have we got for our no production sub groups.

- No product down time.
- No raw materials.
- No operator.
- Maintenance down time.
- Preventative maintenance.
- Fault maintenance.
- Improvement maintenance.
- Set up time.
- Warm-up time.
- Material changeover.

So if we have raw materials and an operator, there’s nothing wrong with the machine, it’s warmed up and the raw materials are in place.

Woo Woo! We can go into production!!! Phew!
There we’ve done it, that was easy wasn’t it?

The time and attendance monitoring part of the machine information system now comes into its own.

In actual fact there may even be other things in the way of production going ahead but going into individual machine set-ups here could fill pages and pages. So we’ll leave it at that for now . . . I hope you don’t mind!

So how do we get our time divided up with all this information and into the machine information system?

Ah I’m glad you asked, sensors and switches.
Electronic sensors for the things that can be detected, like running out of paper on the in-feed stack of a printing press. Then the switches for things that can’t be sensed, like maintenance and set-up times. This type of information input is only possible by human intervention. Pressing a button to start warm-up time would end set-up time for instance. Also a sensor to tell when raw materials have run out and need refilling would show an in-feed refill time.

If it were possible to input such signals by sensors rather than with switches, this would be my preferred method. As I do believe the more automated time and attendance monitoring software is, the better it will work. Mainly because it then happens in the background with interrupting or adding tasks to the operator. Let’s face they’ll already have their work cut out operating the machine, adding things to do only increases the possibility of false or inaccurate results.

There’s no getting round the fact that some things will need to be initiated by an operator telling the system of a change. But I’m a firm believer in keeping these to the minimum. The best time and attendance monitoring system should be as automated as can be made possible.

So, now we’ve got the information going into the machine information system. What are we going to do with it? How are we going analyse the stuff and what results can we get?
I think the best way to look at the data is to put it into a weekly time frame and chop off the times before the operator gets in to work and after when he/her goes home in the evening. Unless your machines don’t have this problem because they are run 24hrs. Merely changing operators at the press of a button would be great in that situation.

The reason to chop off the ‘closed’ time is because otherwise the system would continue to clock up time in the ‘no operator’ box and give a false overall impression within the weekly results. The time and attendance monitoring part of the system could of course have its own box to record this time duration into, in which case it’s fine.

The results we can get from our time and attendance monitoring section of the system would be production down time made up of all the following headings.

- No raw materials.
- No operator.
- Preventative maintenance.
- Fault maintenance.
- Improvement maintenance.
- Set-up time.
- Warm-up time.
- Material changeover.
- Break stop.

Did you notice I’ve added a heading at the bottom, well what time and attendance monitoring study would be complete without an allowance for breaks. The variation of the headings that we will have as an end result will be different depending on the machines and the way they’re used of course. But I’m sure that’s pointing out the obvious to you.

What we do now is get our machine information system to dice up the time info’ it’s got for the week and put it in the right boxes or headings if you prefer. Even if these boxes are more generalised like so.

- No production down time.
- Maintenance down time.
- Set-up time.
- Material changeover.

You will be able to see the big picture as to how much of your potential production time your machine actually spends doing that. (Of course, the time and attendance monitoring actually happens in real time).

Armed with these facts you can now tackle the biggest problem areas first. For instance excessive maintenance down time would show up a reliability problem. You would be able to instruct maintenance staff to find and address the problem based on this time and attendance monitoring data.

‘No production’ could be an operator off sick, get your workers to learn to run different machines to cover for absent co-workers. This would pay dividends on an important job with a delivery deadline; you never can tell when you’ll lose a worker for while. With the time and attendance monitoring implemented within a machine information system this would show up in the machine data view with a machine stopped.

I known some big firms haven’t known a worker was ‘out’ sick on the shop floor, until the production figures were done for the week. Big firms don’t miss one worker who has called in sick but it may translate to a machine not being run elsewhere from his/her normal position.

The whole exercise of course is to reduce the non-necessary time that any and all the machines in particular spend idle when they could be producing. I’m sure you’ll agree information like this goes a long way to insure this is kept to a minimum. So could also see from this, time and attendance monitoring can pay for itself in real terms and also assist to hone the production capacity to a reliable maximum.

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