WIP Tracking Software: Your Key to Manufacturing Excellence
Traditionally, manufacturers relied on Excel sheets, visual whiteboards, or even pen-and-paper records to monitor and document production data. Back in the day, these methods kept shop floors organized and productive.
However, as manufacturing processes become increasingly dynamic and sophisticated, traditional production tracking methods show their limitations. Today's shop floors demand more than static record-keeping – they require agile and responsive WIP tracking software that can adapt to the pace of modern manufacturing.
In this article, we'll uncover why real-time production tracking matters, explore the benefits it brings, delve into the key features of production tracking software, and discuss how to track production in manufacturing for a more effective and cost-efficient shop floor.
What is WIP tracking software?
Work-in-progress (WIP) are items that have begun the production journey but haven’t reached completion yet. WIP consists of products and orders that are currently waiting for completion.
The term also refers to all costs associated with different steps of the production process. Production pipeline, labor, overhead expenses, and other related production costs are your total investment into order completion.
WIP tracking software, or production tracking software, is designed to streamline manufacturing operations management and help you plan and fulfill orders effectively.
Benefits of manufacturing process tracking software
Let's delve into the benefits production tracking systems offer:
Reduction of human errors
In manufacturing, the cost of human error is immense, and even a small mistake can harm both product quality and operational efficiency.
Manufacturing production tracking software automatically collects data and eliminates the possibility of errors that human hands might introduce. On top of that, it conducts real-time quality checks throughout the manufacturing process. This ensures no error goes unnoticed. As a result, this type of heavy equipment industry software safeguards product quality and enables workers to focus on tasks that require more cognitive effort.
Elimination of bottlenecks
A sudden surge in work in progress (WIP) is a telltale sign that bottlenecks may be obstructing the smooth flow of operations along the production line. Real-time production tracking software shines a light on areas of inefficiency and allows supervisors to take prompt corrective actions. With the help of predictive analytics managers can even forecast potential bottlenecks, intervene and prevent the pile-up of WIP.
Improved warehouse and inventory management
You need an accurate production tracking system to improve digital facility management and optimize warehouse usage. With high-quality software, you always know how much of WIP is in your pipeline. This helps you avoid overstocking and reduce waste of both materials and storage space, and improve manufacturing inventory management.
Plus, tracking manufacturing processes can help manage shelf life expiration. It will be easier to prioritize items with impending expiry dates and put every inch of space to productive use.
WIP tracking software usually has a real-time production monitoring module. The stringent quality control from the initial raw material selection to the dispatch of the final product allows you to precisely identify labor and overhead costs.
Production tracking systems also ensure that materials move correctly through each stage of manufacturing. This helps to improve enterprise asset visibility. As a result, you can avoid manufacturing defects and accurately plan equipment maintenance. In the end, tracking production in manufacturing prevents the misallocation of resources and makes production more budget-friendly.
Key features of a manufacturing tracking system
Now, let's delve into the essential features you can find in real-time manufacturing tracking software.
WIP systems can include common features of manufacturing inventory management software. A production tracking system tracks the location, arrival times, and quantities of products and materials across multiple locations. You may also automate inventory transactions, set reorder points to avoid stockouts, and monitor real-time stock amounts. With a WIP system, you get precise control over the whole inventory.
WIP management solutions are one of the most effective custom software solutions with barcode scanning. Barcode scanning allows manufacturers to maintain the integrity of their products through tracking of received goods and raw materials. This data becomes invaluable in case of quality issues or product recalls, since it helps to identify the origin of defective materials. As a result, you can quickly isolate damaged batches and prevent future issues.
Order fulfillment management
Production tracking systems can help you improve order fulfillment. WPI systems synchronize orders from various channels into a single, easy-to-navigate dashboard. You can also use batch and serial number tracking for the items that were already sold. This is very effective if you want to prevent delivery delays. And when you see that it’s impossible to complete the order, you can fulfill the order partially to provide customers with at least a fraction of the product.
Work order management
Production tracking software can include certain features of work order management software. You can easily provide operators with detailed and clear task lists based on incoming manufacturing orders. The task lists can include up-to-date instructions and materials, which provides clarity on what each task requires.
Workflow automation for WIP tracking
WIP tracking software can help you customize workflows. You can define specific workflow steps and provide detailed descriptions and instructions to your shop floor employees. Plus, customized mobile forms make it easy to gather data like equipment serial numbers, operational status, and quality control records. Employees may also use smartphones and QR code/barcode scanning to fill work orders.
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How to choose a manufacturing tracking system
With production tracking software, you've got two main options: off-the-shelf and custom solutions. Off-the-shelf options may catch your eye initially due to lower initial costs, but custom software solutions often turn out to be the real winners in the long run. Here's why custom software solutions often have the upper hand:
- Integrations. Chances are, your business already relies on systems like CMMS, ERP, or accounting software. Off-the-shelf solutions might not work well with all these existing tools, which causes integration headaches. But with customized tracking solutions, you get a tailor-made fit that easily integrates with your current software lineup.
- Flexibility and scalability. Custom multi-layered business software offers the agility to tweak and expand your solution on-the-go. This is especially handy for small manufacturing businesses that need production tracker software that can grow with them. Meanwhile, off-the-shelf options can tie you down, preventing any changes that go against their licensing agreements.
- Security matters. Data breaches can be a costly nightmare, with an average price tag of $9 million in the US. Off-the-shelf asset tracking solutions, often built on open-source code, can be a tempting target for hackers. Complex industry software solutions, on the other hand, are like a fortress designed specifically for your business, which reduces the risk of security breaches.
- Better ROI. Initially, custom development may seem pricier, but the long-term return on investment (ROI) can make it a cost-effective choice. Off-the-shelf solutions often impose limitations, which can lead to unnecessary expenses as your business expands. Custom software development lets you tailor the solution precisely to your needs, which saves you from paying for unnecessary features. Plus, outsourcing development to a reliable partner can be more economical than in-house development, which maximizes your ROI.
- Continuous partnership. An experienced development partner offers more than just initial software development; they provide continuous customer support and quickly respond to your evolving needs. Unlike off-the-shelf software, a dedicated development partner provides you with a direct line of communication for feature requests or troubleshooting. This fosters a long-term partnership where your production tracking software can adapt and grow with your business.
How to start custom software development for manufacturing
So, you’re thinking about launching your own manufacturing digital transformation. Wondering what to start with?
- Set Clear Goals. Establish clear objectives for your WIP tracking software. Gather key stakeholders from various departments such as production, logistics, and management to ensure cross-departmental collaboration. Identify specific goals and assess how the software can help achieve them. Define user roles, task types, and department interactions that will be streamlined through the software.
- Select a Trusted Provider. Research and read client reviews to find a reputable development partner. Their track record and past projects will help you understand whether their qualifications are right for your project.
- Define Requirements. Think about what features you want to see in your production tracking software. Talk with your development partner to create a list of features you need. Then, request a detailed estimate of the development timeline and cost.
- Approve the Design. After initial discussions, your developer will provide initial wireframes and mockups of your production time tracking software. It’s a good idea to seek feedback from stakeholders and teams even if you like the design yourself. Approve the design before the development begins.
- Implement and Test. Once the app is ready, your development partner will conduct thorough quality assurance checks to fix any defects or bugs. Then, they will help migrate data to the new platform, and provide training sessions for your team.
- Post-Launch Support. After the software is launched, gather user feedback to identify areas for improvement. Then, collaborate with your development partner to make adjustments as needed.
Well-designed WIP tracking software is your ticket to work-in-progress optimization, reduced costs, and improved quality control on the shop floor. At Apiko, we understand that each business is unique, and so are its production tracking needs. That's why we're here to guide your enterprise digital transformation.
Reach out to us today, and let's begin a consultation that could reshape the future of your manufacturing operations.