5 Ways Monitoring Your Shop Improves Productivity

Author: Paul Henriques in: Machine Shops

August 18, 2023

5 Ways Monitoring Your Shop Improves Productivity

If there’s one constant in manufacturing it is the pursuit for better productivity. One of the best tools at your disposal is data. All the information that is floating around your shop that you don’t even consider and might not be tracking. These small bits of data often include variables to your production line, like the level of experience of a worker or the quality of received raw materials. And all those little variations can add up to large problems to keeping that productivity from reaching its peak.

The solution for this is to get a better view of the information that all your work centers are generating but not providing. One of the better ways to do this is with real time production and process monitoring. By adding shop monitors, you can get that better data that allows you to make better decisions that add value to your products and, by definition, your customers.

What to Monitor

For shop monitoring to be effective, you need to have data both sides of your production line: From your processes and from your parts. This means that you have to monitor:

  • From your processes – When you monitor your processes, you want to look at how things are done, when, for how long, and what is affected. An example of things to track include: cycle times, temperatures, lubrication levels, parameter control, power usage, and vibrations.
  • From your parts – When you monitor your parts, you want to look at what parts are being used or discarded. An example of things to track include: number of parts made, scrap, damaged parts, returned parts, and the number of parts moved.

By adding a way to track the data generated by actions taken to your parts and the steps in your processes you can improve your knowledge of your process and the steps you take to improve them.

How Monitoring Improves Your Productivity

Once you start capturing that data, you can share it with your ERPII (Enterprise Resource Planner II) where the proper module, like an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) module, can translate the data into real, actionable, information. With the data interpreted and analyzed, you can take the right decision for your business in important areas, such as:

  • Scheduling
  • Warehouse
  • Inventory
  • Quality
  • Maintenance


Knowing the cycle times and maintenance schedule for a work center leads to better scheduling. But beyond that, a notification system can let you know if there are any unexpected outages, which allow you to quickly find out how long the outage is, what work order was being processed, how many parts are done and how many parts are left to do before the due date. Armed with that knowledge, you can update the schedule to minimize the delays and pro-actively contact your customer to inform them, if needed.


Keeping track of all your stock is important and knowing where to move that stock for when it’s needed is doubly so. To improve warehouse stock tracking and moving parts, supplies, and raw material to its designated location, you need a better way to track it. This is where real-time bar code scanners come into play. By having immediate access to the number of items in stock, the number of items in transit, where the items and needed, and their location always on-hand, you can improve the efficiency of your warehouse staff and operators in a way that needs better productivity with less waste.


Another benefit to your warehouse and inventory that you will see from shop monitors are more precise cycle times. This will allow your warehouse staff to get the material the work center needs on time instead of too early or too late, and also take away the parts as they are completed. Because of that, you can set aside less space for temporary storage by work centers or clogging pathways. And with a direct connection from work center to warehouse, they will know of the scrap sooner, allowing the warehouse staff to take necessary actions faster. All while ensuring you have complete visibility of the interactions and giving you a chance to order added raw material in the case it is needed via a direct feed to the ERP.


Newer shop monitors can help improve your quality by monitoring your machine data and by capturing and analysing images of the parts as they move through the monitored work center. For machine data, the monitor will look to various factors, such as vibrations, heat, and pressure to ensure the unit is working within a specific range, since stepping out of that range often creates defective parts. Also, receiving data from the work center can help with compliance and certification by generating reports that the work center output is within the specified parameters.


Finally, shop monitors will improve your maintenance in two ways:

  1. By keeping an accurate count of parts made and run time (via cycle time), you can be more exact with your preventative maintenance scheduling
  2. As with in Quality above, a monitor that tracks vibrations, heat, and other metrics on a work center can give you a warning when a machine is close to breaking, leading to predictive maintenance, where you can action and correct before a complete break.


As the hardware keeps decreasing in cost, this grants you the possibility of adding smart monitors to your work center machines, new and old. As the technology continues to evolve, you will have a leg up on your competition that will allow you to take advantage of new changes while continuing to enjoy the benefits of higher productivity.


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