When it comes to process tracking, most companies are inclined to track only when a product is in a production stage. While this is incredibly helpful – knowing how long a single product takes in a single stage can help inform decision-making – in-stage production tracking cannot provide the complete picture of daily operations. To obtain a more complete picture, companies also need to consider tracking dwell times.
What is Dwell Time?
Dwell time is a metric that assesses how long a product or person stays in one place over the course of both manufacturing and logistics processes. With regard to logistics, this assessment mainly focuses on how long drivers wait at facilities for shipments to be loaded or unloaded. Within manufacturing, the focus is more directly on the product and how long it spends between production stages or in storage before being shipped out.
Dwell time is often measured not only in length of time, but also in terms of ratios. Essentially, how long does a product spend actually in transport or in production as opposed to sitting between stages? How much of production or distribution time is actually spent with stationary, unchanging WIP or product? Dollar amounts are also an important measurement of dwell time, with regard to how much money’s worth of product is being produced versus shipped out versus being held between production stages.
But that’s what dwell time is and how it’s measured. What benefits are provided by going through the extra effort to analyze and synthesize this data into actionable steps?
Let’s look at three reasons why you should track your dwell times.
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Understand and Optimize Your Daily Processes
By tracking dwell time, you can remain apprised of your daily processes. After all, the downtime that a product experiences throughout production can tell you a lot about your current processes as a whole and their specific strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if an incomplete product waits longer between any given stages A and B than any given stages B and C, that probably means that stage B takes longer than stage C. What can you do with that information? This data can help you assess how many workers need to occupy different stages of production to optimize daily operations for the best production numbers. It might also suggest there are recurring complications within a given stage of production, which leads into the next benefit of tracking your dwell times.
Identify and Address Operational Challenges in Real-Time
Tracking dwell times can also help you identify and address operational challenges as they arise. Most of the time, the data used to address challenges is historical, which means that data can only be used after a problem has already run its course and had a negative impact. The most the solution can hope to do is prevent similar instances in the future; it does little to address the original incident, which inevitably results in avoidable losses. And even with real-time location systems, one might be inclined to think that the only pertinent data is contained in how long a product is in a given stage of production. While there’s no denying the importance of that particular array of information, information regarding a product’s downtime only serves to broaden the scope of data and creates further potential for effective decision-making.
Take the scenario we already discussed, for instance. We already pointed out that one potential reason there’s a longer wait between stages A and B than between stages B and C is simply because that stage is more complex and, therefore more time-consuming. If this is the case, the obvious solution is to shuffle workers so that there are more working within the more time-consuming stage and less working in the less time-consuming stage. However, you might also notice that there is a longer wait between stages A and B than there usually is, and you don’t know why. By looking at dwell time data in conjunction with other WIP tracking data, you can ascertain potential reasons for these shifts. Perhaps the previous stage has unexpectedly sped up due to new workers or equipment. Perhaps there’s been issues locating tools needed for the stalled stage. Perhaps workers are simply less productive than usual. Whatever the case, dwell time tracking can help you isolate where operational challenges are occurring so that you can effectively address them without delay.
Predict and Prepare for Production and Delivery Rates
Keeping track of dwell times is also incredibly helpful in accurately forecasting outputs and delivery rates. In itself, production forecasting is important because it gives companies an idea of how much revenue they can expect in a given timeframe. These numbers affect not just their budgets, but whether or not they meet their quotas and how much consideration they need to put into making operational decisions that will bring these numbers up. It also makes it a lot easier to track projected progress towards long-term operational goals and how the reality measures up to those projections. Essentially, it empowers decision-making based on what’s happening now rather than what happened in the past while enabling simplified but accurate reporting.
Informed Operational Decisions
The more you know about your asset, the better the decisions you can make within your organization. With the knowledge of location, condition, and usage data, your company can make even better decisions about daily processes and company spending. No matter what you are responsible for managing, having advanced technology that allows you to make operational decisions is crucial to the efficiency of your operations.
Monitoring Dwell Time with Asset Tracking
An asset tracking system can provide the process and asset visibility you need to track dwell times. By tagging a product – or, in the case of logistics operations, trailers – you can easily obtain data concerning when the asset is in stasis and when it is in motion. This helps avoid issues of human error that come with manually recording time in and between stages of production or transport.
Our AirFinder solution provides full asset visibility across production stages, with AirFinder Onsite for campus operations and AirFinder Everywhere for transportation and distribution. We help you maintain full real-time visibility where it matters to you, helping guide improved productivity and data-based decision-making. If you want to learn more about how our asset tracking solution can work for you, book a demo today.