This is part four of our continuing blog series about transforming your quality operations in order to thrive in the high stakes world of manufacturing—the high stakes of competing in increasingly dynamic and competitive global markets.
In part one
we focused on what we call dysfunctional data
—data that are either incomplete
, or inefficient—
what we consider to be the underlying cause behind most performance and quality issues in manufacturing today.
In part two
we discussed how manufacturers can move away from dysfunctional data towards what we call actionable intelligence
by using the transformative powers of Enact®,
InfinityQS’ award-winning, cloud-native Quality Intelligence platform. Actionable intelligence, as we noted in blog two, is comprised of data that are the exact opposite of dysfunctional—complete, consistent, unified, and efficient.
In part three
we looked at how Enact can help you increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve agility. It all starts with the visibility that brings you informed decision-making capabilities.
Here, in part four, we’ll look at how Enact can help manufacturers deliver strategic improvements
to their operations, drive enterprise consistency
, and protect their brands
Delivering Strategic Improvements
Many manufacturers struggle with achieving greater levels of quality and performance consistently
across their manufacturing operations. Often, manufacturers look to improve a particular line or process, a specific plant or region, and achieving greater levels of quality and performance consistently across the enterprise is not
One obvious reason is that quality and performance management are often managed at a local
level. The result is that those manufacturers with local focus essentially become a collection of loosely connected parts that work together to achieve a common goal or purpose—manufacturing their products. But since the parts are mostly autonomous, the organization really has no ability to manage and monitor across the enterprise.
The Devil is in the Details
Performance reporting is thereby provided to upper management and executives in a highly aggregated format—via the daily, weekly, or monthly summary reports and key performance indicators (KPIs). The problem with that level of aggregation is that it also creates a high level of abstraction from what is actually happening within the production areas over time.
An analogy I like to use is taking a trip in a car. If I take a nice, long journey and report back to you the average speed of the trip, it doesn’t tell you much. For instance, it doesn’t include whether or not I’ve broken the speed limit several times (or at all), or if I’ve stopped frequently along the way. All you get in my aggregated report is the average speed. There are none of the important details, which could paint a better picture for you.
Without that detail, without the ability to drill down into the underlying factors behind each of the aggregated KPIs, your organization is going to struggle to identify where potential performance issues are occurring or where potential improvement opportunities lie waiting to be discovered.
The end result is that days or even weeks after a performance issue is identified and investigation has been implemented—looking for the root cause of the problem—things can take a serious turn for the worse. During that time, unnecessary costs can been incurred, there is potentially waste and/or rework, and productivity and yield are negatively affected. Sometimes, unsafe or poor-quality products can be the result. Nobody wants that.
Highly aggregated KPIs may also mask opportunities for improvement. For instance, we wouldn’t necessarily be able to see details like a particularly problematic process or machine that is suppressing the overall performance. It’s just not clearly visible.
Don’t get me wrong, aggregate analysis of KPIs is very important, and is a prominent feature in Enact (see data stream grading
), but what’s truly important is the ability to instantly drill down into those KPIs to specific processes or products or features, or even to a specific point in time—to the details—where we can determine root cause.
Enact Data Stream Grading
The Excellence Loop
As InfinityQS VP of Statistical Methods, Steve Wise, mentions in his blog series, Quality Re-Imagined
, “the process of re-imagining quality creates a cycle of continuous improvement”—it’s something that we enterprise-quality experts at InfinityQS call the Excellence Loop
. The Excellence Loop “encompasses a lot of ideas and new ways of looking at and dealing with quality,” and it is “the essence of what we do here at InfinityQS.”
The Excellence Loop begins with unification of your quality data—the collection and storage of all quality data in one place, which provides enterprise-wide visibility
, enabling you to assess quality performance for every region, operation, and product in your company. With this enterprise visibility, you gain true operational insight
into your processes and operations that can fuel high-level, prioritized improvement of product quality and spark some exciting, proactive, strategic decision making. With access to this level of information, companies gain the ability to globally transform
their business through process optimization, cost reductions, and better resource utilization.
Driving Enterprise Consistency
An important aspect to enterprise-wide strategic improvement is enterprise consistency. When quality initiatives break down (or prove problematic), inconsistency creeps in…across all your manufacturing operations.
Achieving consistency across your enterprise involves the methods you use, the data you collect, monitoring, and analysis.
Methods and Data
How and when are you doing quality checks? When, where, and how are your data collections performed? And how is all this data recorded? If you have inconsistency in these areas, then trying to perform cross-comparisons and -analyses becomes problematic—because you are then not comparing apples with apples.
So, how can you be confident in your quality if the method used to perform those quality checks across different manufacturing lines, plants, or sites are all different? And when issues occur, how can you ensure that corrective actions are followed correctly (and consistently) across your manufacturing operations?
The data you collect is important. In order to achieve enterprise-wide visibility and the ensuing insights (like we discussed in the Excellence Loop section above), you need to have data that is consistent.
Monitoring and Analysis
How do you ensure that everyone—from operators to executives—are interpreting data and KPIs in the same way? And making consistent decisions based on those insights? Monitoring and analysis without consistency is like attempting to put the square peg in the round hole. And we all know how much fun that is.
Often the reason why inconsistency emerges is that manufacturers do not have in place the solutions to be able to implement and manage consistent methods, data collection, monitoring and analysis across their entire operations. Instead, local variants emerge and become entrenched and are often difficult to remove. But unless we have the right solutions in place, enterprise consistency (or lack of) will continue to be a significant barrier to strategic improvement.
Consistent data, as mentioned in part one
of this blog series, enables you to attain the “big picture of how everything in your manufacturing operations is really performing.” A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution—like Enact—makes data consistency a reality because it centers around a unified, centralized data repository.
When all of your methods, data, monitoring, and analysis is consistent—because your data is stored in, and accessed from, a single repository— enterprise-wide strategic improvement is not just attainable…it becomes expected.
Protecting Your Brand
Without doubt, achieving strategic improvement with enterprise consistency can help manufacturers to make significant gains in performance—whether that be financial, efficiency, productivity, yield, flexibility, or agility. But perhaps the most important aspect is brand protection.
To put it bluntly: a manufacturer is only as good as the products that it produces. If the relentless pursuit of improvements in cost or yield leads to poor quality, or even unsafe, products being shipped, then it's all been in vain. Customers couldn’t care less about the financial or operational performance of those from whom they buy goods; what they do
care about is the quality and safety of the products they consume.
Making errors in quality and safety could be catastrophic for the brand, reputation, and even survival of a manufacturer—and history is littered with examples!
So, the issues we discussed above about strategic improvement and enterprise consistency do not just apply to operational performance, but also (and maybe more importantly) to quality performance. This means that manufacturers must have the ability to implement robust quality procedures, policies, and standards consistently
across their entire operations and have the ability to monitor compliance to them.
And when and where quality events and risks do emerge, we need to have platforms in place to be able to identify them and then proactively and decisively respond to them. It is the only way that manufacturers can truly be assured that they are protecting their customers, their company, and their brands.
I remember once visiting a customer of ours who had posters strategically displayed throughout their site saying something like: "Our customers are our reason, our products are our being, but quality is our soul." Those last four words really stayed with me over the years. In other words, quality must be at the heart of all of our strategic improvement and enterprise consistency efforts in order for us to protect our brands.
In the next and final article, we’ll look at barriers to transformation you can encounter and starting your quality journey…with Enact.
Read the other articles in this blog 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.