Advice checking movement on a welding table

I'm currently a student working on a project for a company that mainly produces metal parts. They specifically asked me to look into their welding table and how it’s used and how much downtime there is when making parts and how much time is wasted on things like moving heavy objects and getting new parts.
I already installed something to check the current to see when the welder is running, however I would like to see when product pieces are being moved on the table to see how much time the welder spends on moving objects because right now a lot of orders are that are delayed are because of the size of products and time spent moving them.

I looked into camera's and movement sensors, but they might get destroyed because of the welding arc and the employees probably don't want camera's in their face. Furthermore, I also looked into putting four scales under the welding table so when they move pieces the weight shifts, and we can see it that way. But the tables are made of steel and weigh 1000+kg, so it would have to be big strong scales that are too expansive.

Any help would be appreciated.

I note you mention a single welding table and a single welding machine, so can we guess a single person doing the welding on a single table?
Have you noticed the auto-darkening welding mask? Use one in front of an overhead camera and write software to look for movement on the table. Learn what movement is people and what is not. Perhaps something on the person's welding helmet.
Paul

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Be aware that management are likely very keen to instrument this to figure out how to improve productivity. The welder(s) may well be less enthusiastic about your work. Be careful about putting any expensive hardware anywhere near the welding table.

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Google time and motion study .

The human aspect of watching someone may well be more efficient , better , easier and cheaper . You have to decide, with a sensor based system, what a movement means - eg did he drop the gun, speak to someone , scratch his head , move the work piece because of a fault ?.
He may get tired and change his posture or position …and…No one likes being monitored .

Think carefully how you will analyse your results .