What is time tracking in manufacturing?

Time tracking is a methodology by which manufacturers record the time it takes for an operator to conduct an activity or complete a task.

Proper time tracking is not just about monitoring work hours. When done correctly, it can enhance efficiency, identify productivity outliers, save money, and optimize performance.

As a result, gaining visibility into the actual production time of your factory’s products can add immeasurably to your organization. From increased employee engagement to the ability to quickly identify and resolve problems when they occur—gaining the ability to accurately see how long it takes to produce each product eliminates any excuse for not meeting deadlines and production schedules.

What does time tracking look like for manufacturers?

Across most manufacturing environments, it's common to see stopwatches, excel spreadsheets, and even paper-based timesheets used to track daily processes at different stages of production.

While these tools can be effective for tracking individual performance against company benchmarks and expectations, they often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to aggregating data and gaining real-time insights into productivity across facilities. Additionally, these time tracking methods tend to be extremely manual and inefficient.

When it comes to time tracking, common metrics tracked across a manufacturing environment can include productivity, productivity per employee, cost of labor/materials/fixed expenses, duration of tasks, duration of products in the same stage of the manufacturing process, etc.

Given there are so many different KPIs that a business would want to track, it makes sense that manufacturers would strive to automate their data collection as much as possible.

Going beyond simple timesheets for production tracking

While timesheets have always been viewed as a necessary evil when it comes to production tracking in manufacturing, the explosion of connected worker solutions over recent years has given manufacturers more options than ever when it comes to time tracking in their facilities.

Time tracking is one of the more common use cases we help manufacturers address at Tulip.

Using our Frontline Operations Platform, businesses are able to gain real-time visibility into operator performance and build custom dashboards that enable supervisors to track progress over time.

Additionally, manufacturers are able to leverage this real-time production data to identify and eliminate bottlenecks across their production processes.

Finally, businesses can track non-value-add activities that affect productivity and lead to waste.

Create reports with real-time data to monitor performance

Manufacturers must take a page from the ‘big data’ book and implement real-time dashboards to monitor their business processes. While real-time analytics dashboards are commonly associated with large enterprises, they are becoming more and more available for manufacturers of all sizes.

The idea behind these dashboards is to provide visibility into operations for those that need to make timely, informed decisions regarding productivity or performance. These decision-makers could include supervisors, a management team, executives—anyone who does not have the time or resources to comb through old reports or datasets.

Management teams can then utilize this real-time data as an early warning system for exceptions and problems so that they can be quickly resolved.

Using time tracking to identify bottlenecks

The ability to identify and eliminate bottlenecks is critical for manufacturers who need to optimize asset utilization and improve productivity. Manufacturing experts say real-time data provides the speed and detail needed to make quick decisions that can reduce costs, prevent breakdowns and increase output.

Time tracking allows manufacturers to identify bottlenecks across their facilities by measuring productivity at every stage of production and comparing today's results with historical benchmarks. When productivity falls, managers are able to quickly respond and reduce the impact of bottlenecks.

Gain insight into processes that affect time and lead to waste

“How much time do we waste on unplanned work?” This is a question that many manufacturers ask.

Across many manufacturing facilities, it is not uncommon for time to be wasted on dealing with non-value-added work, inefficient processes, and equipment downtime—all of which ultimately lead to increased costs as well as decreased productivity and performance.

Eliminating waste is one of the core tenants of lean manufacturing, and by improving time tracking, manufacturers are able to better identify the sources of waste and continuously improve their operations.

Improve Your Time Tracking Capabilities With Tulip

Learn how you can gain real-time visibility with apps that track your daily production workflows in real-time.

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