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Work in Progress


Work in Progress (WIP)

By using bar codes to track work in progress, a manufacturing manager can monitor the activity of all job locations and increase productivity by eliminating the need for machinists and/or assemblers to spend unproductive time manually entering in their respective activities. Fundamentally, a manufacturing company's inventory consists of raw materials, work in progress (WIP), and finished goods. WIP is the link between raw materials and finished goods and is generally the most complicated process of which to maintain inventory control. WIP includes materials that will be integrated into sub-assemblies and the series of steps to build a finished product.

WIP can account for 25% and even up to 30% of the yearly cost of inventory. Ideally, WIP inventories should be reduced to just-in-time levels to minimize these cost. In reality, if WIP is not closely monitored, production schedules, quality, obsolete inventory, and higher inventory problems can occur.

A WIP system should minimally consist of scanners at each workstation that connect to a central computer such as a mainframe or minicomputer. A bar coded label should be strategically placed on the part or container so that when the order is completed an assembler can easily scan the WIP order when it is finished. A work order should also follow the part(s). Using a simple wedge decoder and scanner, productivity can be increased substantially. As an assembler completes the task, the work order, quantity, and employee ID can be scanned. Once the information is scanned, production can be closely monitored so that WIP levels can be optimized.