Production Counters

Production counters have been around for as long as manufacturing. Technology enables you to use the same sensors to do a lot more than simply count production - they can gather valuable production data about the manufacturing process to help you drive improvement.

Production Counting Systems in Manufacturing

Traditionally, production counting systems are used to keep track of the number of items produced in a plant. However, there is a lot more information, and a lot more useful information, that can be gleaned from these systems. Count sensors can be linked to OEE software capable of generating 100+ metrics from those sensor signals. This leads to the distinction between production counters and production monitors.

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:

  • A Production Counter tells you how much you made
  • A Production Monitor tells you how much you made AND it helps you make more

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 Monitor showing OEE at 70.7%, Availability at 76.1%, Performance at 94.8%, and Quality at 97.8%.
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).
Explore Production Monitoring Solutions

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:

  • Total Count Sensor
  • Good (or Reject) Count Sensor
  • Ideal Cycle Time
  • Takt Time (optional)

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:

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:

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:

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”:

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

Production monitors are really that straightforward. That's why whenever someone wants to implement a production counting system, 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.

Dashboard with a pareto chart of counts by part, a stacked column chart of production time by shift, a column chart of count by shift, and a table of OEE and count by hour.
Many production monitors also record information for historical analytics. Here is an example of a production monitor dashboard that highlights information for the most recent seven days of production.
Get Started with Production Monitoring

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
WhiteboardPortable (on wheels) or fixed (wall-mounted) writable 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 CounterPlant floor counter showing production counts for the day or shift. Some electronic counters alternate between showing production count and production speed (rate).
Production MonitorPlant 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 A Production Counting System

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:

  • Operational improvement can be achieved by enabling plant floor employees to “win their shift”:
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).

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™
Production whiteboard for hourly metrics.
Production counter showing 12 hours and 58 minutes.
Production monitor showing Target Count, Actual Count, Efficiency, and Downtime
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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