6 Ways for Plant Leadership to Make Operations More Effective

Just the other day, despite my lack of interest, a colleague was telling me everything they had learned about the number 6. “The number 6 is a symbol of completeness,” they said. I yawned. “6 symbolizes beauty and high ideals,” they added. Okay, good. “And, get this,” they went on to say, “the Pythagoreans acknowledged the number 6 to be the first perfect number.” You don’t say. “In mathematics, a perfect number is when all the number’s divisors (excluding the number itself) are added and the sum equals the number itself. 1+2+3=6.” Fun stuff. But it did get me thinking about Enact (didn’t I say once that I’m always thinking about Enact? well, it’s true…). So, now I want to talk about how the number 6 pertains to Enact and your business. Let’s go.
 
Enact®, InfinityQS’ cloud-native quality intelligence platform, offers plant leadership a variety of ways in which to make their operations more effective. Today we’re discussing the 6 benefits of Enact that I feel are critically important to modern manufacturing.
Enact on the Plant Floor

1. Focusing on Exceptions

The quality experts at InfinityQS have discussed exception reporting for decades. Most recently, VP of Product Design Matt Tweedy shed some light on it in his blog about audits and reporting. He mentions that the operator’s real focus is making product, and any time spent away from that, like entering information into quality software, is a distraction. Operators are busy and only need “to know to do something right now, so they can just get on with their regular job.” With Enact they “love it that they no longer have walls of charts in front of them.”
 
That’s where exception-based reporting comes in. Not only is this a good idea but Enact actually enforces this. We’ve done it for years in ProFicient, our flagship on-premises quality management solution, via notifications. And we carry that on with Enact.
 
Focusing on exceptions is somewhat of a paradigm shift for manufacturers. Old habits die hard. But rather than forcing operators to sift through pages of data, look at a “wall of charts,” or shuffle through dozens of Paretos and Box & Whiskers, we bring to their attention, or “surface,” only the issues that they need to care about. That way they can focus on performing the most important aspect of their job—manufacturing consistent, high-quality products for your company.
Enact Exception Reporting

Why Now is the Time for Focusing On Exceptions

When there’s an issue on your production line—a specification or statistical violation—you want your people to be able to react quickly, resolve the issue, and move on. Right? Everyone on the plant floor doesn’t need to know about it. Just the operator of the line in question, the supervisor, and maybe the quality manager—the people who truly need to know about it.
 
With Enact’s exception-based reporting, when a product demonstrates unexpected behavior like excessive variation or being out-of-spec, the appropriate people are notified. They are not inundated with extraneous information, nor are they waylaid by other concerns. They receive notification of exactly what is the issue.
 

2. Workflows Take Accountability to the Next Level

Enact takes accountability and brings it to the next level…through workflows. Workflows, as mentioned in a previous blog, enable “operators, quality engineers, supervisors, and others to respond consistently and effectively to process- and quality-related events.” Workflows “capture valuable contextual information that can be used by anyone in your organization to better manage or prevent similar events in the future.” 
 
Workflows document causes, actions, comments, and other relevant information, as captured by your front-line employees; they’re accountable, and share their knowledge so that when (not if) an event occurs again, that knowledge is put to use, and issues are mitigated. It’s a great use of technology to strengthen any team or organization.
 
And it’s a great way to ensure that your people are doing the things that you need them to do in response to issues. Accountability through workflows keeps everyone on the same page.
Enact Workflows = Accountability

3. Get the Benefits of an Electronic System in More Places

Since Enact is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) quality management solution, in other words a browser-based system, it opens up quality management experience to more devices. I’ve been to many facilities where workstations on the plant floor were in enclosures. Extreme temperature, moisture, dust, or whatever the harsh (or even caustic) environment that may exist on the plant floor can force manufacturers to protect their sensitive computing equipment—and it sometimes costs three, four, or five times what the technology housed inside the enclosure costs. That’s crazy when you think about it.
 
The result is that this can cause you to scale back on the instances of quality software you keep out on the floor because you don’t want to pay for that many enclosures. Understandable, don’t you think?
 
And I’ve seen manufacturers pull back the number of instances of quality software on their plant floor because—for dedicated computers—they would have to run an additional ethernet cable for a network drop out there.
 
With a mobile system like Enact, these issues disappear. Because Enact is browser-based, all you need are wireless access points. Now you can have as many devices as you need (tablets are typically much cheaper than dedicated PCs) and they can either be kept in protective cases or simply removed from the area for cleanings, etc.
Enact Mobility

4. Enjoy the Benefits of Centralized Quality Management

In years past, you could get away with not having centralized management for your quality efforts. But no longer. Modern manufacturing requires you to be nimble, think on your feet, and be able to turn on a dime—which is a roundabout way of saying this: you need to be able to examine what’s happening in real time in your plant(s), come to a decision on what to do about it (or not to do), and implement your decision. Quickly.
 
It’s too competitive now. There’s too much at stake. Never enough time. A great way to avoid small problems becoming big ones, to be nimble, to think on your feet, is with centralized management.
 
You don’t have to train everyone to do everything. Your people don’t need to know how to re-configure your quality software when something changes. You need to be able to make quick decisions about a new part or configuration and enable it centrally. A few administrators. One action. Everyone sees it on the plant floor. Done.
 
This reduces the burden on your plant, on your time-starved operators (who really shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing anyway) and makes you agile. Upper management decides to make a new widget, an administrator creates the widget in the software, and all the operators instantly see that it is now available to select when they start their shift and are handed the news that “Congratulations! Widget One was so successful, we’re making a Widget Two!”
 
Now your operators can concentrate on what they do best, making your high-quality, consistently manufactured products. A centralized team means you don’t need administrators at each site and is overall a more effective way to configure and maintain a centralized system.
 
So, what should centralized management look like? Glad you asked! We don’t have time to dive into the details here, but we’re happy to do it in a later blog. In fact, we plan to. Return here, to the blog page, every so often and sometime soon it’ll be here waiting for you. Until then, let’s continue on with our list of ways in which a centralized system can make your operations more effective.
Centralize Operations with Enact

5. Easier End-User Training Allows Employees to be Cross-Trained and More Flexible

How do you make end-user training easier, thus enabling your employees to be quickly cross-trained and thus more flexible? Enact does it by making the interface as consistent as possible. Dashboards are a great example of this consistency.
 
In a previous blog devoted exclusively to dashboards, I talked about the many benefits they bestow on the user, including (but not limited to) “time savings for both the user and the person configuring the system, consistency, quick and thorough analysis, and adaptability.”
 
Here’s what I said specifically about consistency: It “cannot be overstated. With everyone using the same dashboards in Enact, you are guaranteed that they are all using the same analysis and metrics.”
 
In addition, everyone can rest easy knowing that the dashboard always looks the same, but its contents may change depending on what they’re currently responsible for. So, if you want to cross-train an operator to manage line 2 in addition to line 1, no problem. The dashboard will evoke the same muscle memory, even though the information they’ll deal with may be different. The important thing is that when they’re responsible for line 1, they’ll see line 1 data, notifications, and alerts.
 
And how is this making your employees more flexible? Well, when the operator for line 1 is away from the plant floor, the operator from line 2 can quickly and easily cover. When an employee is ill for an extended period of time, you can rest assured that the duties of that employee are fulfilled by another. And so on. You can see how in times of uncertainty Enact can virtually expand your workforce to cover all your lines.
 
In addition, when an operator is filling in for someone else, you don’t need to worry about them being lost in regard to the information they see on the dashboard. The look and feel are exactly the same; the information just pertains to a different line now. There’s nothing for the fill-in operator to interpret; simple, consistent, exception-based reporting takes the guesswork out of the information they see.
Enact Reporting

6. No Need to Pull Data for Regional or Corporate Review

Imagine how great that will be! This is great news. When supervisors or corporate management need/want data, they have no need to go knocking on anyone’s door or walking down to the plant floor.
 

Case in Point

What seems to happen frequently is that site-level quality departments, the folks who address “putting out fires” with customers (who are oftentimes internal), tend to be the data-pullers. They end up pulling and culling what they need from whatever system is in use, exporting it out to a spreadsheet, formatting it, and then sending it out to the customer—probably with an explanation. Painful. Time consuming.
 
With access to Enact, supervisors and management can see whatever they need to see right in the software, with just a few mouse clicks. They have it right at their fingertips…all the time. Whenever they need it.
 
Everyone gets to focus on what they do best, resting in the knowledge that the information is there whenever they want to see it. Operators take care of the lines; corporate can take care of corporate. Efficient. Burden lifted.
 

In Closing

These are 6 ways in which the Enact® quality intelligence platform can help plant leadership make operations more effective. As I mentioned at the top, the number 6 symbolizes completeness; and I think these 6 benefits symbolize a complete quality management system. I also mentioned that 6 symbolizes beauty and high ideals. High ideals? Worth striving for. Why not make your manufacturing operations the best it can be? With Enact.
 
 
Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips today: contact one of our account managers (1.800.772.7978 or via our website) for more information.
 
 
Sign up now to begin three free months of Enact software.
 
Eric Weisbrod
By Eric Weisbrod
Vice President, Product Management
See Full Bio


 

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