’Items’ is a general name for anything that is present in stock or production activities that can have a cost associated with it or for which use and creation needs to be accounted.

Item templates, types and properties

When a item is created, it is based on one of five basic templates:

  • Material (stockable, measure quantity)
  • Work time (not stockable, measure time)
  • Machine time (not stockable, measure time)
  • Subcontract job (not stockable, time not measured).
  • Other cost item (not stockable, time not measured)

Different item templates have different properties. Properties are the data fields associated with those items.

Items are divided in the system into nine fixed item types:

  1. Product
  2. Subassembly
  3. Purchased material
  4. Subcontract
  5. Machine
  6. Labour
  7. Consumables
  8. Documents
  9. Other immaterial goods

The different item types are used by the system to control appropriate activity such as:

  • Operation templates can be created only for products and subassemblies
  • Only products can be added to price lists
  • Only purchased materials can be added to cost budgets
  • Manufacturers and manufacturer part numbers can be recorded only for purchased materials
  • Only machine and work can be used in capacity calculations

Note that every item has an associated cost or costs. Labour and machine items reflect the consumption of labour or machine time or effort. So ‘John Smith’ is not an appropriate labour item, but ‘Skilled labour’ with a unit of one minute is suitable. Another labour item may be ‘Skilled labour – overtime’. Similarly, ‘Drill’ is not a machine time, but ‘Standard drilling’ for one minute or perhaps 1 mm3 is suitable.

When items are consumed (see Factory section) then a particular machine or operator can be associated with a machine or labour item type.

Item families

Each item can belong to three item families. These are user defined selections that give three different dimensions for analysing item activity, for instance in purchase, sales or manufacturing analyses.

Manufacturers’ part numbers

Purchased items (components) can be linked to one or more specific manufacturers and their part numbers. This forms an integral part of a quality control system. The approval status of this link can also be recorded, as can an internet link to the manufacturer’s data sheet. The unit of measure can be specified for each of the manufacturers part numbers. So for instance a part number refers to a box of 100 screws, when ordering screws the purchase order will specify that 500 screws is 5 boxes.

Customer part numbers

Customer part numbers can be linked to your own internal part number. The customer part number will be shown on sales orders and invoices for the customer.

Cost budgets

Purchased items can be listed on an unlimited number of cost budgets. Cost budgets can be created for a period of time for instance annually, or for a particular single purpose such as a customer quotation.

After a work order has been executed then the cost report can contain a comparison to a cost budget of choice.

Cost budgets can also contain linkage to foreign currencies so that currency rate fluctuations can be split out from other cost changes.

Purchased v. Manufactured items

To set an item to be planned for purchase or planned for manufacturing, open the item card and select the radio button appropriately. Newly created items are by default “plan for purchase”. When an item is set plan for manufacturer, the system will prompt you if you wish to create a “manufacturing template”. By default the name of the manufacturing template is “Make xxx” where xxx is the item id of the manufactured item.

 

Manufactured items

When an item is selected as plan for manufacturing, the Manufacturing tab on the item card becomes available. On the sub tabs of this tab the manufacturing data for this item is to be entered.

The product structure is set here. Note that the product structure can include all kinds of items, so both materials and work time etc. are on the same list.

Routing can be used to manage the flow of work between work cells. It is an optional feature when a work queue system is needed at cells and capacity needs to be managed. A route is a sequence of steps used in completing the work order.

It is possible to associate items with particular steps on the route. For instance a step at a drilling cell could contain the machine and work items for the operation.

A work cell is a location where work is carried out. A route consists of a number of steps, each step taking place at a certain work cell. So when a routed operation is executed, it will queue at each cell on the route until taken into work at that cell, then completed and passed to the next step. A cell can appear multiple times on a route, in the case that there is a loop, for instance if a product has to return multiple times to a testing cell.

Each cell can have capacity. Capacity is defined as the ability to consume one or more work or machine type items in a certain period of time. Note that capacity is not specified for a single machine but for a cell. Of course a cell can contain one or more machines or people.

The system uses capacity analysis for manual rescheduling. The system will not automatically reschedule due to capacity restraints.

A cell can also be specified at a partner, for instance a subcontractor. In this case routing can take place across a wide geographical location, even internationally, and partners can have restricted access to view only operations routed through them.

By default the system has one cell named as the company id, and each manufactured item has a route with one step on that cell. To access routing the optional Routing module is required.

Importing items

In the admin section there is a start-up wizard screen which allows items to be imported into the system by copy and pasting from an Excel spread sheet.

Importing product structure

It is possible to import data into the product structure of the item card manufacturing tab using Excel spread sheets by using the “Copy/paste” popup screen.

Long term planning using sales forecasts

Cost and capacity planning can be made using sales forecasts. The sales forecast contains a number of products required at certain times. Each product has an associated manufacturing template from which it is produced. Each of the items consumed on the product’s manufacturing template has its own source. This linkage continues until all subassemblies are accounted for. Each item can have a cost on a cost budget, and work cells have capacity for handling items.

As such it is possible to find the total item plan for a time period either in monetary terms or quantities by item.