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How Smart Manufacturing Lets You Create the KPIs You Need

Smart Manufacturing, Production Management
March 15, 2023

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential for manufacturing. They are signposts that help you determine which areas of your operation are performing to expectations and which need improvement.

But KPIs can be challenging to create if you’re unsure what data points you should track or if your manufacturing operation has unique requirements based on your industry, level of connectivity, or product mix.

Smart manufacturing software empowers you to create custom KPIs tailored to your industry, company size, and requirements. It gives you more control over scheduling and data analysis and more time to focus on what matters most to your business. 

Here are a few ways a smart manufacturing system helps you generate customized KPIs to meet your unique needs.

Real-Time Production Dashboards

With smart manufacturing software, you can create KPIs for individual stations, lines, departments, or entire plants. It uses the data from these metrics to generate reports that give managers and supervisors a visual overview of what’s happening.

A key differentiator for customized KPIs on a shop floor dashboard is their impact on operators. Real-time operational dashboards can configure KPIs for measuring and trending over time, shift, operator, or department.

This visibility puts data and production performance at the fingertips of the operator, empowering them to make decisions, intervene, or call for assistance to reduce downtime. By having KPIs specific to the machines they operate, operators are better informed and able to adjust quickly.

Detailed Reporting

Smart manufacturing software lets you create detailed and customized reporting so your team stays on track. It also allows users to see how well they’re meeting objectives at all levels of the organization.

Old-school standalone software often contained blocky, extra fields that couldn’t be removed or changed. This led to frustration and meant that users had to spend time deciphering what was most important. Compare that with a modern smart manufacturing solution that enables customizable reports so managers, operators, schedulers, executives, and others can access the information needed to perform their tasks without the clutter of extra data.

Those with tasks revolving around higher-level enterprise data tasks like ERP outputs can concentrate on reports with that level of data. Likewise, quality managers and maintenance staff can rely on reports that reflect the KPIs that best empower their decision making.


One tremendous advantage of a smart manufacturing system is its ability to create alerts and monitor critical KPIs. This helps operators and managers spot problems before they become unmanageable.

For example, downtime can add up quickly if a production department occasionally stops production from performing maintenance on machines. In another example, if material staged for production is close to running out, entire lines can stop rippling through subsequent downstream processes later.

Smart manufacturing systems make this process more efficient. Rapid responses tied to real-time automated alerts are reflected in the customized KPIs for each department.


Today’s best software lets you quickly determine your production progress and ensure your operations are as efficient as possible. It also creates a holistic top-floor-to-plant-floor environment based on real-time data interpreted through the custom KPIs each user needs most. This capability allows them to make informed decisions and act on problems before they become an issue.

What Are Your Smart Manufacturing KPIs?

Accurate and actionable KPIs are the lifeblood of manufacturing. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to make the decisions that will help you fulfill your strategy, goals, and numbers. A smart manufacturing solution will empower your decision making while producing meaningful KPIs that meet the needs of every member of your organization.

Keep your smart manufacturing journey going by reading about specific production monitoring KPIs in this related article.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.