What goes into a good statement of work?

As labor shortages increase in manufacturing, so does the push towards automation. Manufacturers typically identify areas for potential upgrades, then communicate their requirements in a Statement of Work (SOW) document to suppliers to calculate costs and benefits. Often, however, project risks are not identified during the quoting phase.

The statement of work allows vendors to understand project expectations and therefore has a significant impact on the quality of the project that is delivered months, or even years, later. A well-designed SOW gives vendors a good understanding of the process and system constraints early on and communicates exactly what is expected.

Write a good statement of work

Whether it’s a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation (avoid an e-mail statement, as it is difficult to update and follow the exchange of information), pay attention to these seven areas will limit risk from the start and put the project on the right track. for success.

1. Project Overview

This section should include general information about the part or assembly that the line is producing, as well as an overview of the project and a description of the segment of the production line that will be processed. It should also include some context for the project, describing the challenges encountered with current processes/tools.

This information will help both the production team and the suppliers to fully understand the production processes and the reasoning behind the upgrades. This, in turn, translates into greater supplier ownership and effort.

2. Project objective

In this section, explain why the process is being upgraded: for example, to increase throughput, to reallocate/reduce labor, to minimize quality issues, etc. .

3. Sequence of operations

Share the current status of operations, including cycle time and sequence, and what you expect from these metrics after project completion. Indicate which operating procedures are acceptable for the project and specify the number of different part variants that should be processed in the sequence. Define the equipment that will be provided and what vendors are responsible for providing for this project.

Clearly defining the current state of the process and then comparing it to the future state gives all parties a very clear understanding of what exactly needs to change or upgrade in the process. This gives the vendor’s subject matter experts the opportunity to brainstorm solutions that could have a significant impact on the outcome of the project.

4. Project and Equipment Requirements

Although defining performance and quality requirements is the key to project success, other requirements play a huge role in determining the cost of delivering the project. Clearly define expectations in terms of cycle time, handling, product change tooling, operator interfaces, equipment specifications (PLC, robot, actuators, order marks, etc.), expected deliverables ( installation/commissioning, blueprint sets, PLC programs, spare parts, etc.) warranty requirements and payment terms, to name a few, allow suppliers to properly assess the associated costs to the project and minimize the likelihood of incurring unforeseen expenses (change orders) late in the execution of the project.

For example, if control equipment requirements are not defined, one vendor may assume Brand A is the requirement, while another vendor may assume Brand B, resulting in project costs. potentially very different. This makes supplier selection too complex. Having all of this in advance saves a lot of back and forth between the continuous improvement team and the suppliers.

5. Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) Criteria

Depending on the project and criteria, FAT can span from less than a day to several weeks at a time. Common test criteria include performing a dry run (without production parts) to ensure the sequence of operations is followed correctly, a flow (usually defined as a set number of parts or test minutes) , compliance with cycle time and testing of safety circuits. A rule of thumb is to include testing for all major processes that relate to the project.

Establishing these expectations early sets the standard for all vendors and makes it easier to compare different quotes.

6. Vendor Acceptance Test Criteria

Since project success is ultimately defined on the production floor, it is of the utmost importance to clearly define the standards that will be used to test and purchase the equipment after installation on the factory floor. The SAT criteria are similar to those of the FAT, except that the test will take place at the production site.

Labor costs for on-site testing and purchasing can add up quickly, so clearly communicating these requirements to suppliers in advance will help avoid any surprise change orders associated with implementation. equipment in production.

7. Share relevant photos, videos and drawings

Centrally sharing relevant documents, images, videos, and 2D or 3D CAD files can avoid many repetitive trips back and forth between multiple vendors.

The recommended way to share all relevant project information is to create a folder using a cloud storage service such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc. and share the folder link with the supplier. This allows automatic delivery of new information to all parties when new information is added to the record.

Some companies do their statement of work in-house, while others seek out third-party experts. Eckhart, for example, can send a team of engineers to the production site to review viable automation upgrades and build an effective SOW that the customer owns and can share with their suppliers.

Initiating efforts to upgrade a production line can be a time-consuming process, and following these steps can seem like adding more to the work pile. However, taking deliberate steps when checking for possible upgrades will set the project up for success from the start. With a clear understanding of scope and expectations, the continuous improvement team and vendors become much better equipped to identify and mitigate project risks early on, ensuring a successful and profitable transformation to automation.

Parth Koshti is a Business Development Engineer at Eckhart, Industry 4.0 solution providerwhich supports some of the largest manufacturing operations in the world.

Maria D. Ervin