How Manufacturing Travelers Will Transform Your Production Workflows

A Manufacturing Traveler is a critical document that guides every step of the production process, ensuring that products meet the highest standards of quality and compliance. This article delves into the why you should consider building travelers into your production processes.

The world of manufacturing is all about getting things just right - from how things are made to what’s being made. And at the heart of it all, you’ve got this key player: the manufacturing traveler. Let’s dive into what they’re all about - why they matter, what they’re made of and why you should consider adopting them.

Need to get your raw material and product inventory in control?

Try Craftybase - the inventory and manufacturing solution for DTC sellers. Track raw materials and product stock levels (in real time!), COGS, shop floor assignment and much more.
It's your new production central.

Start your 14 day free trial

What is a “manufacturing traveller?”

Let’s cover the basics as this is likely in part why you are here! In the manufacturing realm, a traveler is a physical document that accompanies a product as it moves through the different stages of production. It is this movement through the production process is why it’s called a “traveler.”

This isn’t just any paperwork; it contains vital information about the component, such as the routing specifics, raw material details, and necessary quality checkpoints.

A traveler acts as the backbone of shop floor control, ensuring that as products travel from one station to the next, no critical information is left behind. It’s an organizer, historian, and guide all in one, tracing the DNA of a product’s lifecycle from birth to shipment and, in our opinion, is an essential part of an operation manager’s toolkit.

Why do travelers matter?

Travelers are essential because they allow businesses to track and monitor the progress of each product as it moves through your production chain.

With a traveler, you can see where a product is in the manufacturing process, what stage it’s at, who has worked on it, how long each step takes - basically, every little detail that goes into ensuring your products are made consistently and on time.

For manufacturing businesses of all sizes, travelers are the a great way to maintain process transparency and quality control. They provide a clear path for tracking work-in-progress (WIP), delivering real-time production updates, and establishing a comprehensive understanding of every step in the manufacturing process.

Convinced? Great - let’s take a closer look now into how you might go about creating a traveler yourself.

What does a Manufacturing Traveler look like?

A typical manufacturing traveler will include the following information:

  • Product name and description
  • Routing details, including operation numbers and descriptions
  • Material requirements and specifications
  • Quality control checkpoints
  • Work-in-progress (WIP) tracking
  • Production time estimates
  • Employee or operator names for each step
  • Notes or comments section

The format of a traveler may vary depending on the industry or how complex your manufacturing process, but it typically follows a similar structure with these key components. You can, of course, tailor this document to include anything that you feel is relevant to your process - use the structure above as a guide.

Let’s now go through what the sections mean in more detail:

Product name and description: The first section of a traveler will typically include the product’s name and a brief description. This helps to identify the product and ensure that it is being routed correctly through the manufacturing process.

Routing details: This section outlines the sequence of operations that need to be completed in order for the product to progress through production. It includes operation numbers, descriptions, and estimated production times for each step.

Material requirements: Here you will find a list of all the materials needed to complete the product. This can include raw materials, quantities used, lot numbers and expiry dates, components / sub-assemblies, or any other information that is necessary to understanding the materials required to produce the product.

Quality control checkpoints: Quality is crucial in manufacturing, and this section ensures that every product goes through specific quality checkpoints before moving on to the next stage. These checkpoints can include inspections, tests, and any other quality assurance measures necessary for the product.

Work-in-progress (WIP) tracking: This section tracks the progress of a product as it moves through each step of production. It allows manufacturers to see where a product is at any given time and helps them identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in their process.

Production time estimates: Estimating production times accurately is crucial for meeting deadlines and managing resources. This section provides estimated times for each step in the manufacturing process, giving manufacturers a better understanding of how long it takes to produce their products.

Employee or operator names: Identifying who worked on each step of the production process is important for accountability and quality control. This section lists the names of employees or operators who completed each operation.

Notes or comments section: This section provides a space for any additional notes or comments that may be relevant to the production process. It can include updates, issues, or other important information that needs to be recorded.

A Real-life example of a manufacturing traveler

To truly understand the importance and effectiveness of manufacturing travelers, let’s look at a real-life example from a beauty manufacturer that makes an organic facial moisturizer called “Rejuvenate”.

Below is a sample outline of what such a traveler might encompass:

Section Details
Product Name and Description Rejuvenate Organic Facial Moisturizer - 50ml Jar
Routing Details - Operation #001: Mix organic shea butter and jojoba oil – 30 minutes
- Operation #002: Homogenization – 45 minutes
- Operation #003: Add essential oil blend – 15 minutes
- Operation #004: Quality control – pH and viscosity check – 20 minutes
- Operation #005: Filling and sealing – 30 minutes per batch
- Operation #006: Final quality assurance – packaging integrity test – 20 minutes
Material Requirements - 200 kg Organic shea butter (Lot #1234, Expires 05/2024)
- 150 liters Organic jojoba oil (Lot #5678, Expires 06/2024)
- Essential oil blend (proprietary mix, reference formula #ABCD)
Quality Control Checkpoints - Checkpoint #1: Raw materials compliance with organic certification
- Checkpoint #2: Batch consistency after homogenization
- Checkpoint #3: Final product pH between 4.5 - 5.5
- Checkpoint #4: Viscosity consistent with control sample
WIP Tracking Barcoded stations for real-time progress updates
Production Time Estimates Total estimated production time: 2.5 hours per batch
Employee or Operator Names Jane Doe – Mixing and Homogenization
John Smith – Quality Control and Final Assurance
Notes or Comments Expedite Operation #003 due to limited shelf life of essential oils

Recording manufacturing travelers

While using pen and paper, or Excel spreadsheets, may suffice for very small-scale operations, they inherently lack efficiency and adaptability.

For instance, when recipes or formulas change, updating this information manually across multiple travelers is not only time-consuming but also prone to human error. This antiquated approach can quickly become a bottleneck as your business grows, inhibiting your ability to scale smoothly.

To tackle the issues of using these “old-school” tracking methods, MRP software solutions can be a great way to automate and remove manual paperwork steps. C

Craftybase MPR is an online, real time manufacturing software solution, designed specifically for manufacturers that sell direct to consumer (DTC).

Featuring several integrations with popular sales channels for real-time order and inventory management, detailed lot tracking for tracing and compliance, and a user-friendly bill of materials and manufacturing workflow abilities.

Each feature aims to help you work smarter, keeping things transparent so you can nail your production process confidently. Craftybase lets you expand smoothly and stay ahead by automating tough tasks that used to hold you back.

Best of all, we have a completely free 14 day trial you can use to see how we can superpower your operations.

Why create a Manufacturing Traveler?

Let’s take another look at why you should adopt manufacturing travelers into your workflow (just in case we haven’t yet convinced you of their merits!)

Enhanced Traceability: Easily track batches and identify specific materials or processes involved in production.

Improved Quality Assurance: Systematically ensure that each product adheres to high-quality standards through predefined checkpoints. Increased Efficiency: Streamline production processes by clearly outlining steps, materials, and responsibilities, reducing downtime and confusion.

Real-Time Progress Monitoring: Gain instant insights into the status of WIP, allowing for swift interventions when necessary.

Accurate Record-Keeping: Maintain meticulous records for compliance and auditing purposes, fostering transparency and accountability.

Optimized Resource Management: Precisely estimate production times and material usage to better manage inventory and workforce allocation.

Scalability Support: Facilitate business growth by implementing robust processes that adapt seamlessly to increasing production demands.


Manufacturing travelers are an essential tool for any DTC brand looking to streamline and optimize their production process.

By providing a detailed roadmap of each product’s journey, they enhance traceability, quality control, efficiency, and resource management.

With Craftybase’s user-friendly software, creating and managing manufacturing travelers has never been easier. Take advantage of our free trial today and see how we can help you superpower your operations.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.