Time thieves

by James Blyth

5 Welding
Time Thieves

Photos by Shutterstock

Here’s my take on 5 “time thieves” to be aware of and some thoughts on how to avoid them. 

Where does the time go? A topic that should be taken seriously within your production and welding activities.

Is your process allowing bad habits to exist, allowing unnecessary delays and poor quality? What stops your production from meeting your target? What is causing you to miss your deadlines?

I’m James Blyth and in my role as Solutions Engineer here at Weldindustry I am privileged to be able to visit different companies and sites across several manufacturing industries. 

I’ve come to realise that Time Thieves or “unplanned” activities crop up in all manufacturing environments. They are hard to admit and are often neglected when entering into a tender or calculating quotations to customers. You know they shouldn’t exist…. but when you don’t meet the time given for the build and management is asking why, it can be hard to pinpoint the culprits. Here’s my take on 5 “time thieves” to be aware of and some thoughts on how to avoid them.


Handwritten sign-offs

Typo’s, handwriting interpretation and MISSING signatures all have potential for adding unwanted and unplanned time to your project.

Poor quality has a knock-on effect and requires gaps to be investigated and rectified at a later stage. Time of detection is therefore crucial for how much time and money you spend on this.

Generally, a handwritten mistake can exist for several days before a quality checkpoint is hit, mistake is noticed, and is fixed. “These things happen” is a common phrase in this scenario, but with the tools available today, they don’t have to.

If you employ a digital signature system, there are ways to reduce detection time.

I have listed here some tools to help reduce the risk:
  • Drop down menus – Operator can only pick from a selection of values inside document templates, avoiding typing errors or discrepancies.
  • Project allocation of values – to ensure only values that have been approved by the project and the system administrator are used.
  • Mandatory values – to make sure mandatory values are satisfied, and not forgotten.


Awaiting progress feedback

Do you have that gut feeling a weld or activity has been finished in production for some time, few hours maybe BUT Welder or Operator waits until end of shift to update and sign documentation?

If we are talking production time in minutes and hours (less so days), this can have a big impact on how quickly you get your product out the door and/or alert the next stage of the process.

Tools to help:

  • Handheld device reporting – live updating from the shopfloor via a tablet or device connected to the internet can ensure real time data and progress.
  • Use of a single system for activity checkpoints – set an expectation of where to look for the task progress. If everyone knows a place to update, view, see who performed sign off; using one system can generate accurate and correct progress updates that will produce huge coordination benefits when implemented in production.

Added benefit! Lower number of systems means less training required for those working on the shop-floor.



We are at a quality checkpoint awaiting approvals but…. QC Inspector is in a meeting, Customer is held up, documentation isn’t the latest revision and many other factors that will hold up an approval. 

Two things here: Do we have what we need in place in order to approve? Is the necessary approver available in time to not impact workshop flow? How can we ensure we always tick both?

«A system with an accurate project overview based on live data allows more successful planning of resources.»

Other tools to help:

  • Handheld reporting – live approving from the shopfloor via a tablet or device connected to the internet, giving real time and accurate progress. Can allow offsite remote approvals with use of a live stream recording of the activity.
  • A system with a document revision control log can help avoid unnecessary confusion and delays.


Equipment losses

Depending on your process, there are going to be some critical equipment or machines that define your build time and there is a huge list of losses that can occur with equipment – failures, changeovers, defects & rework to name a few. When these go down it all rolls to a stop.

Tools to help:

  • Scheduled inspections and maintenance – prevention is better than cure.
  • A notification system of soon to expire calibration and maintenance dates.


Test failures

A time AND resource thief

A correctly built component or product should pass the testing scope, but this isn’t always the case. Test failures should always provoke a look into the build process; there may be gaps in the quality check points, incorrect instruction, missing instruction, out of date BOM. Failed tests always cost time and resources to investigate, setup again and re-test. Those with an improvement mindset will find the root causes and improve the process to avoid recurrence.

Tools to help:

  • System or platform to record test results and failure comments to aid with root cause analysis.
  • System or platform producing statistics or metrics that are useful for reviewing and investigating current projects or even future projects that may not start for years to come.

Do you agree with these? Maybe there are other time thieves you feel are more important to point out? Maybe you have insight or experience in how to overcome these challenges we all share.

Get in touch and let us know!

With thanks to James and the Weldindustry team

These time thieves are noted by our Solution Engineer James Blyth who runs WeldEye implementation workshops and is exposed to workflows from different companies and sites across several manufacturing industries. A WeldEye workshop is a good opportunity for a company’s process stakeholders to review a company’s production and welding processes in terms of what is required physically and in terms of documentation. Client satisfaction is the aim of the game and is a result of a combination of product AND documentation quality.

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