The Challenges of Changing Manufacturing Data Collection and Analysis

Greg Matranga
By Greg Matranga | August 11, 2021
Vice President of Global Marketing
Manufacturing is continually evolving. When you talk about manufacturing data collection and analysis today, it’s all about using technology. Manufacturers recognize that the very idea of using paper or spreadsheets is archaic, a thing of the past. And yet, all the time we see large (and small) companies still relying on paper-based manufacturing data collection and analysis for their quality systems. This is a problem for many reasons, but mostly because it signifies, quite clearly, that adopting technology is an uphill battle for many manufacturers.
But, like creatures in the wild, if we do not adapt, we will perish. Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic, but you get the point. If you don’t change, adapt, and modify the way you do things—as the world is changing around you—then, chances are, your competitors will gobble up your market share.
Changing Manufacturing

Manufacturing is Changing—We’ve Got to Change With It

Paper, spreadsheets, the old way of doing things—that’s passe. It’s time has come and gone. Paper, specifically, is very expensive and incredibly inefficient. We can’t expect that people are going to be able to write perfect numbers and letters; much of the data capture we've seen is written on paper for quality systems—written by very busy operators, and oftentimes it is unintelligible. It can't even be interpreted. Even the guesses we make are no good. Frustrating is the word that most often comes to mind…
When a quality pro returns to an operator a day after a data collection or analysis, points to some squiggles on a piece of paper, and says, "Hey, what's this mean right here?" The operator generally says, "I can’t remember. That was yesterday. I've moved on. I’ve got so many more things to do." That’s the point. The operators in today’s manufacturing facilities are responsible for constantly keeping quality products flowing from their production lines. During the course of their day, they are performing myriad tasks. And suddenly someone thrusts a piece of paper in their face, expecting them to know what it is and what it means.
Paper Quality Mgmt is OutdatedIn addition, paper has to be reviewed, and that's difficult also. Because how do you review it? Well, we worked with a quality manager a few years back who had 75 to 100 pieces of paper on his desk—collected from across their manufacturing organization. Someone asked, "What's this?" And he responded, "Well, this is the first and second shift data that I have to review today." "Well, how are you going to do that?" he was asked. And he said, "I have to go through every single piece of paper." "Well, what are you looking for?" And to that he sadly stated, "Well, I don't know. I'm just trying to see if anything doesn't look right." Wow. We were flabbergasted, to say the least.
Well, obviously that kind of review is incredibly inefficient, and we know that people are going to miss things. Paper systems are rife with errors, rife with issues, and—perhaps most importantly—paper eliminates visibility (my colleague, InfinityQS COO Doug Fair, wrote extensively about the many problems with paper-based quality systems in his blog—check it out here). Imagine that quality manager with his 100 pieces of paper sitting there; what happens to that manufacturing data? The answer is that only he and the operators see that data and no one else has visibility into it.
What manufacturers need to do is change the way they manage their processes and product quality…and their organizations as a whole. What they really need to do is transform these paper-based and spreadsheet-based systems into digital systems.

Real-Time Manufacturing Data Collection — Technology is the Solution

Yes, technology is the obvious solution. But our experience shows that most manufacturers are very slow adopters of technology; very slow indeed. And the reason they’re slow to adopt is because they think that new technology is really expensive. But the answer is it's not—especially cloud technologies.
Manufacturers who quickly adopt new technologies are more likely to cut costs. They're more likely to make significant improvements in a very short period of time…and we've seen it. We've witnessed organizations move from paper to software, and then instantly they are made aware of what’s really going on in their operations. That software, InfinityQS quality management software, identifies for manufacturers where their problems lie and where there are opportunities.
Updating Quality Management 
We once worked with a client that was able to uncover more than $10 million in yearly cost reductions in their operations simply by moving from paper to our software. The management team couldn't believe it because they thought that they had their quality issues all figured out with their paper-based system…but they really didn't.
Before adopting InfinityQS software, this company had never had the ability to aggregate their quality data, summarize it, and then create reports that highlight where the greatest opportunities for improvement lie. This company, like many others, decided to make quality “mission critical” for their organization. As Doug states in his Is Quality “Mission Critical” at Your Organization? blog, “The aims should be zero defects, minimal variation, and running to target like a finely tuned machine. Not only do your ever-more-sophisticated and knowledgeable customers deserve it, they demand it. And InfinityQS quality management software solutions can help.”
Modern Quality Management

Advanced Data Collection is Easy & Effective

The moral of the story is this: moving to new technology is really the way to change the way your organization manages processes and product quality. Companies are now looking at cloud solutions and how they can be leveraged—because of how these systems can roll data up and provide visibility and standardization. If your quality procedures, processes, data collections, analyses, and reports are all in the cloud, then you can standardize across not just production lines within a plant, but across plants. And when you do that, you can more quickly cut costs, and more quickly optimize efficiencies.

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.

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