Quality in manufacturing. It’s a big space. It’s an important space. Your bottom line depends on how well you deal with quality in your operations. And all quality solutions are not created equal. I’d like to begin this blog by stating that there are many “givens” in your Quality Intelligence solution that people should just take for granted.\r\n \r\nThere’s a baseline of things that you should, and can, expect from your Quality Intelligence solution. If you read this blog and think, “Hey, that’s not the case for me,” then there are some really big opportunities for improvement before you. And, of course, we can help.\r\n \r\nTake it for Granted – a Starting Point\r\nSo, when I say, “things that people should be able to take for granted (regarding manufacturing quality software),” what sorts of things pop into your head? Here’s a list of things I’m thinking you should be able to take for granted:\r\n\r\nCollect all kinds of quality data—variable, attribute, checklistCollect data from a variety of sources—manual, gauges, fully-automatedProperly analyze the data for statistical and limit violations identifiedReceive notifications (either in software or via email) for violationsPrompt users for data collections to satisfy regulatory requirements (timed data collections)Centralized data repository for all data—this might be at a single site (versus enterprise-wide), but you shouldn’t be storing data using flat-file logic, even if it’s in a database\r\n \r\nThese are the types of things that we’ve been doing for years, but our Enact® Quality Intelligence platform takes these things to the next level. And this should be your starting point for evaluating your current quality solution. Can you do all these things? And do you want more? Because Enact offers so much more…Designed for the Enterprise\r\nFrom the ground up, Enact is designed for the enterprise. It was the way in which Enact was conceived, and it’s a difference-maker. One aspect of this in today’s software development lingo, is called “cloud-native,” which translates into built in the cloud, and for the cloud. Technically, cloud-native is really all about how applications are created and deployed. While this applies to Enact, there is much more to “designed for the enterprise” than just how the software is deployed.\r\n\r\nThe Process Model and Enterprise Design\r\nA very important aspect of what makes Enact “designed for the enterprise,” is something that is truly unique: the process model. I have written at length about the process model, most recently in my blog, The Joys of a Process Model. In that piece, I discuss how it allows you to build things out in step-by-step fashion (which is convenient), the fact that it’s expandable, helps you error-proof your processes, and it centralizes and simplifies the ways in which you manage your operations. We designed Enact’s process model functionality to greatly benefit end-users, and that is a major part of the game in today’s software world. And the process model is connected to everything we do in Enact; which you’ll see as you read on.Data Repository\r\nHaving the ability to look at data across your entire enterprise in its summary form (in aggregate) is critical. It enables your quality pros to dig into the data and uncover the greatest opportunities for improvements in your operations. The unified data repository is at the center of almost all the transformative benefits you can glean from Enact.\r\n \r\nIn your average manufacturing environment, there are lots of machines and data collection devices, each speaking its own unique language. The Enact Quality Intelligence platform can hear what each device is saying, translate it into a common language (or format), and store everything in one place. Then, when it comes time to put it all together, all that data from across your enterprise is easily rolled up and summarized—ready to become information that you can use to improve business performance.\r\n\r\nActionable\r\nAnyone can look at control charts. Seems like every quality software system available today offers them. But Enact takes it a step further with dashboards that deliver up actionable information for the right person at the right time—in a visually engaging way.\r\nLet’s take a quick look at a dashboard. The most urgent data collections are shown in the upper left of the data collection window. The data streams with the most events are shown in the upper left of the stream summary tile. Grading for sites down to the data streams. That's all prioritized content. The right people see the right stuff.\r\nAnd the same goes for notifications, too. It’s prioritized content. Some tiles “follow the user” while others are tied to the data. So, if I have a notification tile it follows me, and isn't necessarily limited. I might be working in packaging and filling today, splitting my time between the two, but the data I'm looking at right now is only for packaging.\r\n \r\nWell, Enact won’t let me forget that I have to go do something in filling, too. I don't want to ever say, "Sorry, boss, I missed that data collection because I was in the packaging area and I didn't get the notification." Not the case with Enact—it’s designed to understand that some things follow me (the user) and other things follow the data. That’s actionable information.\r\nReusability\r\nReuse is a common theme in Enact. It was designed this way for ease of deployment and maintenance.\r\n \r\nLarge organizations struggle to keep up with certain aspects of their quality software system: configuration and keeping the software up-to-date. Enact’s response to those challenges is reusability: dashboards, process models, data collections, and sampling requirements.\r\n \r\nTrue reuse is notcopy & paste functionality. Many organizations feel they need copy & paste because it’s a habit they learned long ago because there was no other choice. And it was easy. I’m here to say that it’s no substitute for thoughtful design. It’s important to remember that if you copy & paste, rather than reuse, and you make changes to that data collection, you may also have to change each instance of your copy & paste. If you happened to copy & paste multiple times, you’ve got a maintenance challenge on your hands.Standardization\r\nEnact rewards standardization. This is another topic I’ve written about at length (see the two-part blog series on benefits of standardization). Read these blogs and you’ll see that standardization offers your organization many benefits, including:\r\n\r\nEasier deployment and maintenanceVisibility across sitesReinforces the use of a single, unified data repository (which we discussed early on)Powerful, consistent reportingStrengthens complianceAccess for all types of devices (laptops, tablets, phones)Flexibility\r\nEnact is flexible enough to understand and handle that there will be differences at the shop floor level. Great example: language labels. With language labels, you can have a factory where some of the people speak Spanish, some German, some French, and some English. And guess what? They're all just seeing the system in their language. If you put in the effort to use language labels, the system simply works for them in their native tongue.\r\n \r\nBeyond language, there are work practices. The ability to account for differences between product families and adapt to work practices means you’ve got options—so your operators can work efficiently (which helps get buy-in).\r\n \r\nPerhaps one of the most flexible things that a cloud-native system can do for you is updates. Not upgrades, but instead updates. There are no servers to purchase and setup, no software to install, and no need for time-consuming software upgrades. And everyone on your staff always has the latest and greatest version of the software… on any device that has a browser (flexibility!).\r\n\r\nData is Data\r\nThis harkens back to standardization. In order for your data to be used enterprise-wide, it must be standardized. Therefore, InfinityQS’ centralized data engines treat all data the same. And it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Whether it’s manually collected, comes in via gauges, or is fully-automated, all collected data is treated the same by Enact. Data is just data.\r\n \r\nWhen the data comes in, tagging it appropriately is key to proper analysis. At a minimum, every piece of data in Enact is tagged with a time stamp, as well as the employee, feature, part, and process to which it is tied. By tagging data, you enhance the level of analysis that can be performed on it—ways in which you can aggregate, compare, and slice and dice the data.Security\r\nEvery company that purchases Enact receives their own database. When some software companies say “multi-tenant,” what they’re really saying is everyone lives in the same database. Not so with Enact.\r\n \r\nAs an individual tenant with InfinityQS, your database is your database. All customers are still under the same “umbrella,” but you never know anyone else exists. User name and password, with two-factor authentication, are required for access. Your system and your data are secure.\r\n\r\nSelf-Support\r\nWe call it the “extended Enact experience.” It’s an extensive library of Enact self-help tools, where you can learn about all things Enact on your time and at your pace.\r\n \r\nAs my colleague, Steven Voight, our Knowledge Development Manager here at InfinityQS, mentioned in his blog Shift to eLearning, “Momentum for eLearning has been gathering. It’s become increasingly obvious that the cost savings incurred with the shift towards eLearning swings both ways: for students and for companies.” \r\n \r\nEnact is a great example of a software product that is perfectly suited to remote learning. While Enact is highly customizable, it is also a product for which we pre-define much of the work up front, lending it an “out-of-the-box” aspect that is very appropriate for eLearning.\r\n \r\nConclusion\r\nSo, at the very least, your quality software system should do the following:\r\n\r\nCollect all kinds of quality data—variable, attribute, checklistCollect data from a variety of sources—manual, gauges, fully-automatedProperly analyze the data for statistical and limit violations identifiedReceive notifications (either in software or via email) for violationsPrompt users for data collections to satisfy regulatory requirements (timed data collections)Utilize a centralized data repository for all data\r\n \r\nAnd you should be able to just take those for granted. They should, as a matter of course, be a part of your current quality software solution.\r\n \r\nHowever, in addition, you need to add the following functionality to make yours a true Quality Intelligence program—reaping the benefits of the operational insights you’ll gain from the data you collect and analyze, and thus transforming your business:\r\nActionable InformationReusabilityStandardizationFlexibilityData is dataSecuritySelf-support\r\n \r\nFor more information about Enact, please visit our Product section of the website.