Production Counters

Production Counters in Manufacturing

Why Use Production Counters?

Every manufacturer needs an accurate count of what they produce. It's a given. However, what is less understood is that production counters can be used for much more than just counting – they can be used to drive significant improvements in manufacturing productivity. What do we mean by this? The same sensors used for counting parts can be used to generate dozens of meaningful and insightful metrics that provide a comprehensive window into your manufacturing operations. Consider this:

Using the same two sensors one might use for production counting (Total Count and Good Count) a production monitor can automatically track Counts, Rates, Cycle Times, Production Times, OEE, Six Big Losses, TEEP, and Targets.

Production Counter and Monitor Metrics
A production monitor generates a wealth of information from the same two sensors used by a production counter. This information can be communicated both in real-time (as shown above) and as historical analytics (as shown later below).

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How does it work? It's simple. Enter your shift schedule (to establish Planned Production Time) and scan a barcode for the start and end of Changeovers (to capture Planned Stop Time). Provide two sensors from your manufacturing process, and two pieces of information for each part:

Start with a Total Count Sensor to get the following metrics, which include highly accurate production times since the production monitor automatically detects when the manufacturing process is down:

CategoryMetrics
CountsTotal Count
RatesProduction Rate (both instantaneous and average)
CyclesTotal Cycles, Current Cycle Time, Previous Cycle Time, and Average Cycle Time
Production TimesRun Time, Unplanned Stop Time, Planned Stop Time, and Not Scheduled Time (each with time, occurrence, and percentage metrics)

Add a Good (or Reject) Count Sensor to get quality information:

CategoryMetrics
CountsGood Count, Reject Count, and First Pass Yield
RatesGood Rate and Reject Rate (both instantaneous and average)

Add Ideal Cycle Time (the theoretical minimum time to produce one part) to open up an entirely new dimension of cycle, performance, and capacity analytics:

CategoryMetrics
CyclesStandard Cycles, Slow Cycles, and Small Stops (each with time, occurrence, and loss metrics)
OEEOEE, Availability, Performance, and Quality (each with percentage, time, and count-based loss metrics), Fully Productive Time, and Total Loss
Six Big LossesBreakdowns (Unplanned Stop Time), Setup and Adjustments (Planned Stop Time), Reduced Speed (Slow Cycles), Small Stops, Startup Rejects, and Production Rejects (each with percentage, time, and count-based loss metrics)
TEEPTEEP, Utilization, Capacity Loss, Capacity Lost Time

Add Takt Time (the expected time to produce one good piece) for real-time metrics that enable your plant floor team to “win their shift”:

CategoryMetrics
Target

Target Count, Efficiency, Percent Variance, Count Variance, Time Variance, Pace Time, Takt Time, Takt Compliance, and Takt Overage

It's really that straightforward. That's why whenever someone wants to implement a production counter we recommend they seriously consider upgrading to a production monitor. As an added bonus, many production monitors also offer in-depth historical analytics (see below).

Look at it this way. Good decisions are based on good information. Great decisions are based on even better information. By leveraging the same two sensors you use for production counting you can greatly expand your world of information.

Production Counter Dashboard with Historical Analytics
Many production monitors also record information for historical analytics. Here is a example of a production monitor dashboard that highlights information for the most recent seven days of production.

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Types of Production Counters

There are a variety of different kinds of production counters used in manufacturing. Here are three common types:

TypeHow It's Used
Whiteboard

Portable (on wheels) or fixed (wall-mounted) writeable boards. Whiteboards are typically updated at the start of each day, at the start of each shift, or hourly (optimal). Posted information typically includes counts, down time, and targets. Whiteboards convey a lot of information, but the information is manually captured and not updated in real-time.

Electronic Counter

Plant floor counter showing production counts for the day or shift. Some electronic counters alternate between showing production count and production speed (rate).

Production Monitor

Plant floor production monitors that use the same sensors as electronic counters but develop a far richer set of information. The most effective production monitors:

  • Track losses to perfect production using OEE, Six Big Losses, and TEEP
  • Update metrics in real-time
  • Capture and record metrics for historical analytics
  • Use color changes to instantly communicate when attention is needed
  • Provide contextual information (e.g., show performance information when running, down time information during breakdowns, target time for changeovers, remaining time for breaks, etc.)

How to Use Production Counters

An effective production counter provides an accurate count of what is produced. An effective production monitor drives improvement at all levels of the company. For example:

ConveyBy Asking…MetricDescription
ExpectationWhere should we be?TargetQuantity of good parts that should have been manufactured.
PerformanceWhere are we?ActualQuantity of good parts that have been manufactured.
AchievementHow are we doing?EfficiencyRatio of Actual to Target. An Efficiency score of 100% or better means your team is winning their shift.

Tactical improvement can be achieved by providing supervisors with “quick win” analytics tools such as Top Losses and Short Interval Control.

Strategic improvement can be achieved by providing managers with accurate and trended historical information that puts all manufacturing losses in one actionable context (as shown above).

Key Takeaway

The same two sensors used for a production counter can generate dozens of insightful metrics right out-of-the-box when connected to a production monitor. Use a production monitor to display a simple set of real-time metrics on the plant floor (e.g., Target, Actual, Efficiency, and Down Time) and to deliver key historical metrics and analytics to supervisors and managers (e.g., OEE, Six Big Losses, and TEEP).

Production Counter Selection Chart

The following selection chart highlights some of the many advantages of using the Vorne XL Productivity Appliance™ as a “supercharged” production counter. We like to think of XL as the ultimate production counter!

AdvantageWhiteboardElectronic CounterVorne XL Productivity Appliance™
 WhiteboardElectronic CounterVorne XL Productivity Appliance™
Affordable
Highly Visible 
Engages Operators
Automates Data Capture 
Real-Time Information 
Historical Analytics  
Browser-Based Reports  
Count Metrics
Rate Metrics 
Cycle Metrics  
Production Time Metrics  
OEE Metrics  
Six Big Loss Metrics  
TEEP/Capacity Metrics  
Target Metrics 
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