Many high-tech manufacturing businesses consist of various complex processes within their production facilities. As a result, such operations require personnel who can execute the complex tasks needed at each station.

To make this process more effective and efficient, manufacturers provide employees with a set of standardized work instructions to walk them through the different tasks at the respective stations. These instructions are provided in the form of manufacturing travelers and build books.

In more traditional manufacturing businesses, manufacturing travelers are hard-copy paper documents accompanying a given product through the production process on the line. This can present several problems, however. For example, paper-based travelers can become illegible or lack necessary details, impacting data integrity.

As a result, more and more manufacturers are embracing digitization, making job travelers more reliable for workers at their stations.

In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of manufacturing travelers and why businesses are embracing digital travelers to help reduce errors, increase efficiency, and gain real-time visibility of their production processes.

What is a manufacturing traveler?

A manufacturing traveler is a document that contains all of the details about the materials and processes that went into the production of a given item.

When a manufacturer receives an order, they create a work order to begin the production process. In addition to the work order, a traveler is created and moves along with the product as it flows through the production facilities.

The traveler contains information about what items are necessary for the given product, what tools will be needed, and what steps the product will need to go through to be assembled.

Details included in a traveler document

Order information: The document should contain information detailing the various specifications and preferences. In addition, the traveler can highlight the customer, order number, and the batch to which the particular item belongs.

Parts and Bills of Materials: The traveler also contains the parts needed to assemble the product. The Bill of Materials (BoM) highlights the part name, number, description, and quantity.

This allows workers at various stations to know the number of specific parts needed for the particular process on the assembly line.

Standard times: Manufacturers leverage digital solutions and production know-how to determine the time needed to produce a given item. The manufacturing traveler shows workers the ideal period they should spend executing a particular task on the assembly line.

Standard times on a traveler also allow supervisors and managers to track time and job progress, providing visibility into the production process.

High-level product routing: More complex products require finer and more specific processes. As such, manufacturing travelers show particular processes that workers should execute for a given job.

Furthermore, the traveler emphasizes the sequence in which these processes should take place, ensuring that delicate or complex products are correctly assembled.

Data capture: The traveler document contains vital data from each station on the production line. It shows the workers responsible for each process at the various assembly stations.

In addition, it captures data such as actual cycle times, yield, and other related production metrics and KPIs. As a result, an electronic traveler is often preferable for capturing and tracking more granular data.

The importance of travelers for life sciences manufacturers

Manufacturing travelers are essential in many different types of production environments. However, they play an even more crucial role in production in regulated industries such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. This is so because life sciences manufacturers operate in an environment that faces a high degree of scrutiny and regulatory oversight.

Additionally, many businesses in this space have adopted more modern manufacturing techniques and technologies. As a result, such manufacturers have replaced their paper-based travelers with more robust, efficient electronic traveler solutions.

Benefits of adopting electronic travelers

As manufacturing processes become more complex, and businesses adapt to the increasing level of customization required to satisfy today’s consumer demands, producers are continually looking for opportunities to improve the efficiency of their operations. Digitizing manufacturing travelers provides a huge opportunity for manufacturers to achieve significant improvements. Some of the benefits of electronic travelers include:

Real-time visibility into build status: An electronic traveler provides real-time visibility into production progress. Such a digital solution allows supervisors to track the production progress of a specific part or product from anywhere at a moment’s notice.

Additionally, modern manufacturing travelers capture real-time data, providing supervisors and managers with the most current situation in the production facilities. This allows them to identify any issues more quickly and make better-informed decisions.

Increased production efficiency: Electronic travelers can be easily integrated with digital work instructions to guide personnel at their respective work stations. These instructions are specific to a given stage of the production process, providing workers with precise information for their particular task.

This allows production to move more quickly and efficiently because they have all of the tools and information at their fingertips.

Reduce human-borne errors: As earlier mentioned, paper travelers are prone to mistakes. For instance, information can be incorrectly documented, erased, or compromised as the document is moved from station to station with a facility.

In addition, the paper can get lost, leaving the employee without critical information to work off. This can create bottlenecks on the production line, inhibiting the business’ ability to fulfill orders quickly.

Promotes continuous improvement: Because an electronic traveler provides complete visibility into the production process, manufacturers can immediately identify potential problems. Further still, the traveler enables manufacturers to track interventions, seeing if they improve the production process.

Additional monitoring allows manufacturing businesses to drive continuous process improvement.

Better compliance with standards and regulations: As mentioned, in industries subject to regulatory oversight, governing bodies often stipulate production methods and product quality standards. Manufacturers can adhere to these standards and regulations by leveraging travelers to provide precise work instructions and quality control measures.

Additionally, the traveler provides information required for quality audits. For medical device manufacturers, for example, the traveler can be used to supplement a device history record as it contains many of the pertinent details required to prove traceability.

Leveraging Tulip for your job traveler needs

Today, manufacturers across a wide variety of industries are using Tulip to help automate data collection across production processes and streamline traceability.

Using Tulip, businesses are able to track products from the moment a work order is created all the way through to the final quality check. Tulip is able to capture every step and detail that goes into the process and create a digital audit trail that is accurate, legible, and easily accessible.

If you’re interested in learning how Tulip can be used to track production and gain real-time visibility, reach out to a member of our team today!