Let’s Talk About Compliance – Part 3: Are My Data Collections Happening?

Natalia Ochoa
By Natalia Ochoa | December 2, 2021
Product Operations Manager

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

In the introduction to this blog series, InfinityQS VP of Product Management, Eric Weisbrod, discussed compliance in terms of manufacturers meeting operational standards and laid out the plan for this series. In Part 2, Senior Product Analyst, Matt Ryan, discussed collecting good quality data to help ensure that the products you’re creating are compliant with set specifications and that your processes are performing well.
 
Here, in Part 3, I’d like to focus on compliance in terms of data collection. Specifically, we’ll discuss the question posed by Eric in the intro: Are my data collections happening? I’ll do that by looking at how the compliance efforts in your organization relate to how you manage your operators’ day-to-day jobs and responsibilities.
Simplify Operator Duties

Smooth Operators

Operators are always busy, so if you can make their lives/jobs a little bit easier by improving and simplifying their data collection efforts, then everything will run more smoothly, your processes will be more consistent, and overall product quality will improve.
 
The easiest way to improve an operator’s day-to-day job is with data collection notifications. The shop floor is a place where lots of things are happening all the time—a group of machines and assorted equipment require oversight, a machine may need an adjustment, a measurement is due, a maintenance check is scheduled, and so on and so on. It’s a lot on the operator’s plate. So, if you can utilize something as simple and easy to set up as a data collection notification to take off some of the pressure, it is a welcome thing.
 
Generally speaking, data collections—i.e., measurements, weights, tests of various kinds—are regularly scheduled events. Let’s say your operator on “line one” needs to take a measurement of the part they’re producing every half-hour during their eight-hour shift. With so much going on, it’s easy to be late for a measurement, or even miss one, or two, or more. You don’t want your operator “fudging” data collections, so it’s important that you make sure they remember them without a lot of undue fuss.
Notifications and Countdown Timers are Key

Enacting Quality

With a quality management software system like InfinityQS Enact® in place and overseeing your processes, your operator can focus on the myriad other responsibilities they have at any given time and not worry about when they need to interrupt whatever they’re doing to take that measurement.
 
Notifications in Enact can be generated for manufacturing limit and statistical violations, checklist violations, and timed data collections. Notifications list on the left side of the work dashboard (see the image below), to which everyone has access; they are color-coded green and red for easy identification. In addition, timed data collections offer countdown timers to help operators estimate their remaining time for performing their checks.
Notifications and Countdown Timers 
The importance of data collection notifications and countdown timers becomes even more enhanced when you consider that, typically, operators have multiple collections to perform, at varied frequency. It’s easy to lose track or forget one here or there without solid quality management software—Enact takes the guesswork (and human error) out of the process.
 
Let’s say you’ve got a data collection due in about ten minutes. The system alerts you to this, which gives you time to prepare samples, if necessary, in order to take those measurements. No scurrying around at the last second to ready yourself for the data collection. That’s a relief for the operator. And they appreciate that.
 

Data Collections Matter

Shop Floor Data CollectionAs Matt mentioned in his Compliance blog, the reason we focus on compliance from a business standpoint is to ensure consistency in the way our processes are running. The only way for you to truly ensure that there is consistency is by taking those timed measurements throughout the entire manufacturing process.
 
Let’s face it, I could take all these measurements at the beginning of the run, or at the end of the run. Or—and I’m sorry to remind everyone that sometimes we humans take the easy way out—even do an audit from the available pallets of product, take the measurements from 30 samples from all around the pallet, and—voila—I have the data. But that data is different from the data that you can gather when you're running production, and you're taking measurements, say, every hour, or every 30 minutes.
 
So, why is it so different? Because when you're doing checks that way, in a timeframe, at a specific frequency, that data can really help you build control charts. And control charts are the specific tool that can tell operators when there’s special cause variation, or if things are under control. You can spot trends, you will be able to see when something is happening that you need to investigate, and you can be proactive—you can
react. You can fix the problem and then keep on running. But if you wait until the very end, then it's probably going to be too late; and, of course, it's going to cost a lot of money for the business to throw all that product out.
 

Consistency

Consistency is something that manufacturers should really care about. Some of the statistics that we provide—metrics that are very important for the business, like capability indexes, CP, CPK—are only meaningful if the process is in control and consistent. And, again, the only way for you to know that everything is in control is by taking measurements at a certain frequency throughout the production process.
 
How does Enact translate all that data into something that a supervisor or manager can use to oversee the process and look for information such as checks that have been missed, or that checks have been performed either on time or late? Enact includes “tiles” that provide different summaries of timed data collections. The Compliance tile is designed to be used in real-time and provides data rollups, such as missed collections or on-time collections, across different levels of your organization.
Compliance Summary Tile
We also have a Compliance Summary tile designed to provide summary data that shows line leaders and managers better understand how sites are performing on a monthly, weekly, or shift basis within a region, division, or across the entire company. But even more than that, because we understand how important it is to facilitate data analysis at your fingertips, the Compliance Summary tile also provides higher-level views of data collection compliance—such as the percentage of processes that meet or exceed a specific user-defined data collection compliance threshold. These site summaries are clickable to drill down and see the compliance performance of each process at the site.
Compliance Tile - Hierarchy 
And by knowing that information, that manager or line leader can then ensure that the operators are performing their checks on time. For instance, if they're late all the time, that information can provide insight into ways that you can improve—training, collection frequency, staffing, etc.
 

For Example

I worked with an Enact customer, for example, who set up data collection notifications using an estimate of how long they thought taking certain measurements would take. Their thought process: "Well, for this operator, it's going to take 30 minutes to measure all these weights." However, in reality it may take an hour. So, when looking at their charts and seeing that every time they measure net weights, those checks are always late, they decided they needed to adjust the sampling process and sampling frequency—provide more time to the operators or have two operators performing these checks because it's just too much work for one operator to do on-time, or in the amount of time that we want to commit to the task. Makes sense, right?
 
All of that is related to compliance and making sure that the products that you're making are of the highest quality and consistency—because if you're performing your checks at the assigned times, and you’re ensuring that your process is consistent, then you can guarantee that what you're making is good product.
Compliance Aids Quality and Consistency

In Closing

All the data you collect is “inside information,” real-time clues that provide insight to the business regarding the things you need to do to run efficiently and optimize your processes. Essentially, for your operations to run smoothly and consistently—ensuring that you’ll always create products of the highest quality. And don’t forget, along the way you make life a little easier for those important operators.
 
To read previous blogs in this series:  
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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