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WIP Management: Increase Productivity and Performance

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

picture of work in progress with a percent completed

Bluestreak Reading Time: 5 minutes

WIP Management: Increase Productivity and Performance. WIP is a concept that describes the flow of manufacturing costs and part processing steps from one area of production to the next.

WIP is a term used in production and supply-chain management to describe the flow of products that are partially completed and still undergoing a manufacturing process from one area of production to the next until completion i.e., returned back to the customer or shipped for delivery as finished goods. Some examples of required part processing might be metal-treating/powder-coating, plating, heat-treating, forging, etc. In modern production, focusing on WIP manufacturing is crucial. WIP manufacturing encompasses all the costs associated with labor, overhead, and materials for products that are currently in the process of being created. By thoroughly analyzing these details, you can reduce lead times, foster a culture of continuous improvement and develop a comprehensive strategy to enhance cost-effectiveness and efficiency in operations.

Sample WIP screen from Bluestreak | Bright AM™ QMS + MES software


Reducing WIP Reducing WIP is one of the most important elements in attaining lean manufacturing to increase liquidity, promote a smoother workflow, and enhance performance overall. To reduce work-in-progress (WIP) in manufacturing, several strategies can be implemented. Here are just a few: First, improving production planning is crucial. By aligning production schedules with demand forecasts, manufacturers can optimize workflows and avoid excessive accumulation of WIP inventory.

Second, adopting lean manufacturing principles such as Just-in-Time (JIT) production can help minimize WIP. Just-in-time manufacturing is a production model that focuses on creating items based on actual demand, avoiding surplus or premature production. Organizations embrace JIT to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and expedite product delivery. However, to successfully implement JIT, it is crucial to eliminate various forms of waste commonly found in manufacturing, including overproduction, unnecessary wait times, and excessive inventory. By addressing these waste factors, organizations can establish an effective JIT strategy and reap its benefits.

Third, enhancing supply chain coordination plays a significant role. Close collaboration with suppliers and optimizing the supply chain help reduce lead times and minimize the need for excessive WIP. Effective communication, reliable deliveries, and synchronized production schedules contribute to leaner inventory levels.

Furthermore, optimizing production processes is crucial for WIP reduction. Analyzing production workflows to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas prone to WIP accumulation allows manufacturers to streamline processes, eliminate non-value-added activities, and leverage automation or technology solutions to enhance overall production efficiency. In essence, WIP Management: Increase Productivity and Performance.

Automating WIP Management Is a Good Investment

Although both manual and automated work-in-progress tracking offers basic benefits, manual tracking does have its limitations. Automated WIP tracking has the potential to overcome these limitations through the use of advanced software technology.

While implementing an automated WIP management system requires an initial investment in software, hardware, and implementation costs, the long-term benefits can outweigh these expenses. By leveraging the data collected from ERP, MES, and other production systems, manufacturers can optimize workflow on the shop floor and effectively handle work in progress. There are numerous key benefits of automating WIP management:

Enhanced Process Control Digital, data-driven process controls can effectively manage a substantial portion of the production line, allowing employees to focus on tasks that require more cognitive abilities.

Elimination of Human Error Automation solutions commonly used in production environments automatically collect data, reducing the occurrence of human errors that often contribute to WIP inefficiencies.

Continuous Improvement WIP management technologies provide valuable insights that facilitate continuous improvement within the production environment. By identifying inefficiencies and providing supervisors with the ability to implement corrective actions, these solutions drive ongoing optimization.

Proactive Bottleneck Identification Through predictive analytics and well-integrated systems and equipment, workers can identify potential bottlenecks and take proactive measures to prevent WIP accumulation.

By embracing automation and leveraging advanced software solutions like Bluestreak | Bright AM™, companies can streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and effectively manage their work in progress. For a complimentary consultation to investigate whether Bluestreak™ is right for you, contact us now.

About Bluestreak™:

Bluestreak™ is a powerful Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and a fully integrated Quality Management System (QMS), designed for the manufacturing environment and service-based manufacturing companies ( metal-treating/powder-coating, plating, heat-treating, forging, and metal-finishing), businesses that receive customers’ parts, perform a process (service) on them, and send those parts back to the customer). Companies need MES software tailored to specific functionality and workflow needs such as industry-specific specifications management, intuitive scheduling control for both staff and machinery maintenance, and the ability to manage work orders and track real-time data. If different work centers on the production floor aren’t “speaking” to each other via the MES, the data loses value and becomes disjointed or lost in disparate silos.

Bluestreak | Bright AM™ is an MES + QMS software solution specifically designed to manage and optimize the unique requirements of Additive Manufacturing’s production of parts and powder inventory usage.

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