There are many metrics available to plant management to measure overall performance. There are measures of utilization and efficiency for machines and processes. Lean manufacturing focuses on measures organized around Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, Inventory, Manpower and Environmental.
But one of the most commonly used metrics in plant management is performance against standard cost. Unfortunately, this has always been a lagging metric and is rarely available in near real-time. In addition, standard cost is often clouded with overhead absorption and other accounting metrics that mask the true direct costs within the plant.
With today's systems, it is possible to implement a system of real-time variable cost management that accounts for actual expenses associated with materials, labor, utilities and other direct, variable expenses.