The Art of the Possible – Part 1: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Brad Forrest
By Brad Forrest | December 9, 2021
Account Manager

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

Sometimes in the software biz you meet and talk to customers or potential customers who don’t really know what your software does. And sometimes in business (and in life, I guess) we purchase something, use it, and never fully realize what we have. It meets a need, and we seem satisfied by that. Then, before we’ve really thought things through, we’re ready to move on to something else.
 
It seems crazy, but it happens all the time. You have a product in hand, you and your team have used it, but since you really don’t know what you’ve got, you don’t even know what questions to ask about it. So, how are you to uncover the true potential of something you’ve already purchased?
 
Let’s face it…sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. Case in point: InfinityQS ProFicient. It’s a very powerful, robust manufacturing quality control and management tool. It can do just about anything you’d want quality management software to do for your manufacturing operations. But many customers buy it for a specific need and only scratch the surface of what the tool can do for them.
Uncover the Potential of Quality Control

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

ProFicient has been around for over 30 years. It’s the industry’s leading real-time SPC software solution. And, like I said, surprisingly, few customers really know what they have in their hands. Therefore, I’d like to propose a brief tutorial. I’d like to guide you through what the tool has to offer. Who knows? You might be surprised, find something that really helps your business. Worth a look, right?
 

Contents

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, but I’ll try to be concise. I’m guessing most manufacturers don’t have a ton of spare time, so I won’t waste a moment of it. I’ll cover everything from our centralized, unified data repository to add-on tools, lot genealogy and traceability, and reporting capabilities to audit relief, the vast world of data collection, dashboards, and so much more.
 
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started….
 

Centralized Data Repository

Having a single, unified, centralized data repository can mean so much to your operations. InfinityQS COO, Doug Fair, covers this topic in great detail in his blog, Soar Above the Competition: Centralize Your Quality Data. It’s definitely worth a read.
 
In this blog, Doug enumerates the most valuable benefits of centralizing your quality data: standardization, uniformity, and efficiency.
 
Centralizing your quality data is the easiest way to standardize. Standardizing naming conventions (product codes, feature names, lot number formats, etc.) is crucial. Not only does it ensure a common code of communication across all plants, but it supports system-to-system integration, and enables simplified high-level reporting and data analysis across all plants.”
 
Furthermore, when naming conventions are standardized, says Doug, “quality management systems can easily aggregate data across production lines and plants, providing corporate-wide quality insights that are generally impossible to uncover without standardization.”
Success Through Quality

Uniformity

Most quality improvement efforts are an attempt to either manage and reduce variation or deal with its consequences. “Understanding variation and highlighting non-uniformity is the primary job of any good quality management system. Perfection is impossible but reducing product variation to manageable levels is the objective of every quality system. If you want to reduce your company’s product variation and enjoy the benefits of doing so (lower costs, greater customer loyalty, etc.) at more than one plant, then you’ve got to centralize all of your quality data.”
 
When your products are uniform, particularly when they are consistently uniform over the long run, customers will return to you, and might even talk about you on their social media (selling for you!).
 

Efficiency

“Being able to view data across all plants and production lines provides valuable information to organizations. It enables them to easily identify which plants generate quality performance that needs to be replicated, and which plants need the help of Six Sigma teams. Whether replicating best practices or pinpointing plants that could use extra help to improve uniformity, those actions are the result of aggregated, summarized quality data.” That’s efficiency in a nutshell.
Quality Management Anywhere

Corporate Hierarchy

With the corporate hierarchy feature of ProFicient, you control data visibility in your system. This can prove to be very useful when your database contains multiple companies, divisions, sites, or departments.
 
A company is the highest level in the corporate hierarchy, and contains all other levels, including Division, Site, Department, Area, Process Unit, and Process. Using both corporate hierarchy and security roles, you gain power and flexible control over your data.

Sample Corporate Hierarchy 
Sample ProFicient Corporate Hierarchy setup
 

Add-Ons

What are add-ons, you ask? Add-on products work together with ProFicient to deliver a complete, comprehensive quality improvement solution. They include the following:
  • Dynamic Scheduler: This tool empowers shop-floor operators with a timed checklist for scheduled quality checks. Users get an easy-to-read schedule and automated data collection reminders. Data collection requirements dynamically keep up with changing process state conditions.
  • Automated Data Collection (ADC): Facilitates fully-automated data collection from a variety of plant and enterprise systems. This enables you to capture quality, environmental, process, and manufacturing information without human intervention.
  • Remote Alarm Monitoring Service (RAMS): Enables you to automate shop floor data monitoring with real-time event logging. Manage quality by exception and provide closed-loop process control without requiring human intervention.
  • Dynamic Remote Alarm Monitoring Service (DRAMS): Stay aware of control and specification limit violations using this powerful tool. It’s our Microsoft® Windows™-based service that makes it easy to monitor all your manufacturing processes—so you can be alerted automatically before harmful quality issues arise.
InfinityQS ProFicient Add-On Products 
InfinityQS ProFicient Add-On Products web page
 
And that’s not all. There are more tools designed to round out your quality management solution. Learn about our add-on products on the web page pictured above by clicking here.
 

Database Manager

Make the most of your ProFicient database with Database Manager. Create, configure, view, add, edit, delete, import, and export records within the database.
  • Customize access to your data: Database Manager’s “Security Role” features enable your administrator to specify the functionality and menu selections that each user has access to.
  • Feel secure: Using roles, user account settings, password settings, employee configuration, traceability, and security policy, you can secure access—preventing unauthorized users from logging in and running functionality.
  • Accountability: With Auditing and Traceability functionality, record all modifications to the ProFicient system in traceability tables created for each active ProFicient table.
Quality Control 

Lot Genealogy and Traceability

With lot genealogy and traceability in Database Manager, you follow what InfinityQS VP of Statistical Methods, Steve Wise (in his blog entitled, Does the “Lot Genie” Work for You? Lot Genealogy Explained), calls “a map that can guide you to the root cause of a manufacturing problem and help you mitigate any issue better and faster.” Lot genealogy is designed to “help you with your supply chain and rescue you from scrap, waste, defects, and rework.” And who doesn't want to do away with those pains?
 
So, what's the advantage to having all this knowledge of lots and which component corresponds to which lot number? What can you do with that information? Well, if you’re keeping track of the lot numbers that went into your finished goods, "then you know what component lots you need to capture in a quarantine,” says Steve. That way, you can investigate efficiently, and find out where the problem is. “And you don’t have to take everything out of your finished goods flow or component flow to isolate the problem.”
Sample Lot Traceability 
Sample ProFicient Lot Traceability
 
"If you had no clue as to what components went into those finished goods, then the whole factory is suspect," says Steve, "or at least the whole factory of components that could have been in those finished goods is suspect." Then the net you cast to find the issue is really big. “However, if you just keep track of the lots, it minimizes the risk, it minimizes the effort, to isolate the root cause.”
 
In other words, you need to mitigate the risks. “You need to know who to call when things go wrong. Recalls are horrible things.” If you didn't have that traceability into your finished goods lot, then you wouldn't know who to call. So, especially in a recall, lot genealogy is very helpful with the size of net you cast.
 
If you know what the finished goods lots were and you were tracking the components that went into the product, then when you're troubleshooting you would know what precise lots need to be investigated. That's important time-, money-, and reputation-saving stuff.
Net Content Control Prevents Overfilling

Net Content Control

We talk a lot about net content control here at InfinityQS. Most recently, InfinityQS Senior Product Marketing Manager, Jim Frider, discussed this topic in a blog. It’s an important topic because, “Violations can result in fines or legal recourse, plus there is a brand or reputational risk to underfilling food and beverage products: incidents can quickly go viral on social media, damaging a brand’s reputation. To avoid these risks, many manufacturers resort to overfilling—so even when significant variation in net content occurs, it still falls within permissible levels.”
 
As we all know, “overfilling, or ‘giveaway,’ is risky and can be extremely costly. How? Overfilling typically costs a few cents every time it happens. But most bottlers or consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies produce millions of bottles or containers; so, these pennies add up to big costs over time. For goods that are expensive to produce these costs can be even worse—not only via the aforementioned product giveaway, but by wasting the resources needed to produce that additional content (manpower, materials, machine wear and tear). This can also potentially impact the manufacturer’s environmental and social responsibilities.”
 
InfinityQS software supports the most commonly used NCC limit standards:
  • U.S. Department of Commerce Stated Content/Weight and Maximum Allowable Variation (MAV)
  • European Union Stated Content, Tolerable Negative Error (TNE), and T1 & T2 set points
Regardless of implementation, regulations from these entities are designed so that packages are not underfilled, protecting the consumer. As mentioned, violating these regulations can result in fines or legal actions.
Quality Management Software on the Shop Floor

In Closing

So, that’s a good start in discussing all the many features of ProFicient that even our current customers might not know about. You can see that there is loads of functionality contained within ProFicient. We want manufacturers to understand exactly what they have in their hands. It can help them change their business.
 
And there’s a lot more to discuss! “We don’t know what we don’t know,” so it’s a pretty good idea to find out more about your quality management software. It can help you in ways you might not even know about (yet)!
 
 
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.

Join us for Part 2 of this blog series, which includes more useful ProFicient functionality like audit support, reporting capabilities, data collection, dashboards, and more.
 

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