Tracking progress on the Shop Floor can help to adjust to changing production scheduling conditions as they occur in real-time.

In the previous article in this series (part 3 of 5), we talked about the importance of planning. By way of example, we planned an ordinary drive to work. We then discussed the implications of our various planning scenarios for manufacturers.

Now, we direct our attention to the all-important task of tracking our progress as we travel.

Tracking our progress is important for several reasons. Tracking can help us adjust to changing conditions as they occur in real-time. For example, we may detect an increased threat level as our on-time arrival or delivery timeframe compresses. Additionally, the knowledge gained from tracking our progress can also help us improve our driving and production scheduling practices in the future.

Tracking Progress on the Shop Floor

As we leave home and as we reach the end of each segment, we’ll see how well we’re doing. We’ll check how many minutes of driving are remaining (based on our standard estimate). We’ll check how many minutes of buffer are remaining. Note that buffer minutes may be eaten up whenever it takes us longer to drive a segment than was estimated. Sitting at that railroad crossing watching the 100-car train plod on by will eat a good part of your buffer.

The threat level is a measure of how much drive time is remaining versus how much buffer time is remaining. The calculation is:

% of drive remaining / % of buffer remaining

The larger the threat level number, the more concerned we should be about arriving late! For example, if we have all of our drive remaining and all of our buffer remaining, the threat level is 1.00 (100% / 100% = 1.00). If we have 80% of our drive remaining and 20% of our buffer remaining, the threat level is 4.00 (80% / 20% = 4.00).

Perfect execution is where everything goes according to plan. The threat level at the start of every drive is 1.00 because all of our drive time and time buffer remains intact. In the case where we leave home at exactly 7:00 a.m, we are unconcerned about being late. And if we put miles behind us faster than buffer gets eaten, then our threat level will drop below 1.00.

Recall that we planned 43 minutes total but have divided the total drive into four discrete segments. As we anticipated, we complete the first segment in 10 minutes. Our time buffer remains intact. We are less concerned about being late because we are slightly closer to our destination. The threat level has decreased!

We travel the next segment, again completing this particular portion of our journey in the allotted time. That means we still have 100% of our time buffer remaining. We are still less concerned about being late. The threat level has decreased yet again!

Fast forward. We completed the third and fourth segments exactly as planned and arrive at work at exactly 7:43 a.m. We didn’t use any of our allocated buffer on our drive, so we are 17 minutes early. Now we can enjoy that buffer time by texting a friend, catching up on the news, or grabbing a cup of coffee.

Of course, we know that perfection is seldom achieved in driving or shop floor execution. With this in mind, the next entry in this series will compare what normal, variable and extreme variability days might entail. As we’ll see, our scheduling decisions can shape our relative success in arriving on time, or not. The implications for manufacturing scheduling professionals will be evident.

How often does your drive to work go exactly as planned? How do you track the progress of jobs on the shop floor? How do you use the knowledge gained to model your scheduling decisions going forward?


About Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM)

Protected Flow Manufacturing™ (PFM) is a revolutionary new Manufacturing Execution and Planning System. Aimed specifically at the crucial area of “production execution”, Protected Flow Manufacturing™ continually directs production priorities to minimize wait time and maximize on-time delivery using data fed from a customer’s existing ERP system that customers can act on.

Learn more at