With increasing importance of continuous manufacturing, the interest in integrating dry granulation into a continuous manufacturing line is growing. Residence time distribution measurements are of importance as they provide information about duration of materials within the process. These data enable traceability and are highly beneficial for developing control strategies. A digital image analysis system was used to determine the residence time distribution of two materials with different deformation behavior (brittle, plastic) in the milling unit of dry granulation systems. A colorant was added to the material (20% w/w iron oxide), which did not affect the material properties excessively, so the milling process could be mimicked well. Experimental designs were conducted to figure out which parameters effect the mean residence time strongly. Moreover, two types of dry granulation systems were contrasted. Longer mean residence times were obtained for the oscillating mill (OM) compared to the conical mill (CM). For co-processed microcrystalline cellulose residence times of 19.8–44.4 s (OM) and 11.6–29.1 s (CM) were measured, mainly influenced by the specific compaction force, the mill speed and roll speed. For dibasic calcium phosphate anhydrate residence times from 17.7–46.4 (OM) and 5.4 − 10.2 s (CM) were measured, while here the specific compaction force, the mill speed and their interactions with the roll speed had an influence on the mean residence time.