Introducing SATRA TimeLine2
Describing the powerful new SATRA TimeLine2 management system tool, which is now available for members.
by Stuart Irons
One of the key objectives at SATRA is to help the footwear industry improve productivity. In the 1970s, SATRA developed sophisticated management systems based on established work study methods. These have been progressively refined into a number of tools made available to members to improve overall production efficiency.
During those early days, such tools were predominantly aimed towards Western-based manufacturers. Today, however, companies located in Asia are starting to follow a similar route, embracing manufacturing change in order to maintain competitiveness.
Demand in traditionally low labour cost parts of the world has, until recently, been limited, with most manufacturers preferring more labour-based solutions to their manufacturing needs. However, shortages of workers and rising wages have led to many companies looking for other solutions.
Under pressure to reduce the total process times (not only to lower the product cost, but also to meet higher standards of customer delivery), manufacturers in the modern production environment need to introduce new styles of footwear in the shortest possible time – often in a few days, compared to weeks, which was common several years ago. This reduced time puts enormous pressure on the pre-production planning processes. These can include costing, product engineering and scheduling, all of which can negatively impact material availability, delivery and quality assurance if not carried out correctly and accurately.
Introducing SATRA TimeLine
In 2013, the SATRA TimeLine database and configuration tool was launched, that enables manufacturers to calculate the optimum time required to carry out virtually any shoemaking operation. These times provide data for labour costing, planning production, line balancing and machine utilisation requirements.
There are a number of benefits to using SATRA TimeLine. These include the amount of process time in manufacturing sequences. Virtually all shoemaking operations can be identified and changes quickly made when new styles are introduced. In addition, factory planning engineers are able to configure ‘virtual’ production options to determine what is required in terms of operators, plant and equipment before laying out the physical production line.
The system enables manufacturers to schedule or load the production processes more efficiently.
By listening to SATRA TimeLine users, we improved the package and a new version (SATRA TimeLine2) was released in February 2014. This contains more features and allows the user to customise the software to a particular product.
The question screens (‘definitions’) have now been split into ‘handling’ and ‘task’ screens, thus making it easier to combine various handling methods with different tasks. In addition, a change has been made to the previous limit of 26 questions per screen, making them now almost limitless.
The new question screens (figure 1) allow distances, speeds and procedures to be entered easily and quickly into the system, thus eliminating the need to continually create detailed elements for a task. Standard (pre-determined) times have been identified for all motions required to complete any task, with these motions forming the 'building blocks' of SATRA TimeLine 2. Examples include times for free hand motions (for instance, when moving to pick up a brush) and restricted hand motions (such as when accurately cementing along an edge with a brush).
Users now have the facility on most question screens to use an ‘internal’ digitiser to enter hand movements and features on the path, as well as types of stitching (for example, attaching or decorative). For more complex paths, the ‘external’ supplied digitiser can be used.
Multi-machine operations – such as sole pressing and backpart moulding – can now be calculated taking into account the overlapping machine/operator times. The user will be trained to create his or her own question screens for operations that are not included in the system. These can then be exported into other databases if the user has factories in different locations that are not connected to the same database.
SATRA TimeLine2 enables factory production planners to not only produce reliable and realistic direct labour times (and, therefore, cost) for each operation (figure 2) based on the expected method, but also quickly evaluate any proposed variations. It is often possible to improve the way the product is made and how the production line is planned, laid out and balanced, in order to reduce operation times. The effect on overall efficiency can be considerable, and we have examples of significant improvements in total process time on the whole line when using SATRA TimeLine2.
A key aspect of SATRA TimeLine2 is the opportunity to examine the balance of value-added/non-value-added aspects for each operation, and to identify unnecessary movement or inefficient working methods.
SATRA TimeLine2 will also provide the production management with a detailed operation analysis (figure 3) to assist with training and monitoring production efficiency. The system screen provides visualisation of the process sequence, enabling the user to run a theoretical production line (figure 4) before committing effort to the real thing. Potential production holdups, slow processes and imbalances can be quickly identified. The user can then easily reconfigure the layout and check to see if it is improved. SATRA TimeLine2 is equally applicable to manufacturers regardless of size, methods, machinery used, fashion content or product price bracket.
At the core of SATRA TimeLine2 is a well-established, predetermined international time system that identifies the time required to complete simple actions. This has been combined with the times required to carry out typical shoemaking operations based on a decade of SATRA’s own research. SATRA TimeLine2 can be connected to various information technology systems and also incorporates the facility to output data to other costing-based programmes.
How does it work?
SATRA TimeLine2 combines the above-mentioned internationally recognised time measurement principles with SATRA-derived research and experience of optimising manufacturing processes within the footwear industry. Work operations are broken down into a set of basic motions such as ‘move’, ‘grasp’, ‘position’ and ‘release’, and standard times for each motion are calculated based on industry best practice. Each of these ‘elements’ is allocated a time based on the action plus the distance travelled. These have been coupled with specific machine operation times which have been developed from extensive research carried out by SATRA. They provide an unparalleled level of accuracy for understanding the optimum time required for all shoemaking operations.
Typically, our consultants find that factory values are often based on inaccurate timing methods. In addition, methods and procedures often get changed without re-evaluating the effects on operation time. The result is an inaccurate predicted manufacturing time, leading to poor cost control and inefficient production.
The SATRA TimeLine2 package
The SATRA TimeLine2 package consists of a number of options, depending on the level of expertise of the factory production planning team. The general starting point will be ‘entry level’, consisting of a period of system installation, familiarisation and training. The factory will then be provided with an ‘action plan’ – a four- to six-week period for more familiarisation of the system and data creation (which can be sent back to SATRA for off-site analysis). SATRA will then visit again to provide further training, confirm competence, check method statements and work place layouts.
For organisations wanting to further explore the principles of factory planning and work study, SATRA has an advanced level training programme available. We recognise that not all factories are familiar with work-study techniques, and it may be necessary to bring operatives up to a basic knowledge with a pre-entry level appreciation course before commencing general SATRA TimeLine2 training. Any requirement for this will be determined by a test before starting entry-level training.
SATRA TimeLine2 has been specifically developed for use with other SATRA management systems such as SATRA VisionStitch and SATRASumm. These, coupled with our comprehensive and unparalleled knowledge of shoemaking, operations makes the system unique.
SATRA TimeLine2 is a major new development in SATRA’s range of products, and is based on tried and trusted production efficiency methods derived from SATRA research developed over many years. Exclusive to members, SATRA TimeLine2 provides a sophisticated tool to manage all aspects of labour cost control, as well as monitoring and improving manufacturing productivity. The system is now available and can be installed in member companies supported by a comprehensive consultancy and training programme.
How can we help?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on how SATRA TimeLine2 can help to improve the control of your labour costs and manufacturing productivity.
This article was originally published on page 42 of the May 2014 issue of SATRA Bulletin.