Simplifying Your ProFicient Environment

So, your ProFicient SPC system is humming along - you have a number of operator data collection projects, engineering reporting projects, supervisor review projects, and everything is perfectly organized, neat, clean, and easy-to-use - exactly how you dreamt of implementing the software.

If you are like most quality professionals, this is simply not the case. Most likely you started with a good, clean model (maybe one of those fantastic Application Engineers paid a visit to get you started) but since then you have had to cram to get your system up and running. Maybe you have forgotten some of the cool tips and tricks you learned in training and, as a result, your Projects directory is filled with temporary and test projects, disconnected navigation projects and abandoned reporting projects. You need a ProFicient tune-up.

Here are some tips, tricks, and concepts that will speed up data entry, create an accessible environment, and reduce maintenance.

Clean Out Your Projects Folder

Start by cleaning out your projects folder. Create an archive directory and drag in your unused project files (ProjectName.ipj). It is a good idea to organize those backup files while you are at it: delete the old ones and relocate the newer ones.

Consolidate Your Projects

Open up one of your most frequently used projects and check the list of Data Entry Configurations. It is a good idea to remove any that are unused. ProFicient will verify each Data Entry Configuration when the project is first opened and there is no need to use computer resources for unused items. If you only have a few Data Entry Configurations, consider consolidating projects. There are number of features to make your projects dynamic so that they function seamlessly for multiple data entries.

Dynamic project configuration relies heavily on setting Specification Limits. Feel free to include a long list of tests in your Data Entry Configurations. In Test Options, select "Skip Characteristic If No Specification Limit Defined" for each test. This will allow you to merge Data Entry Configurations. If you do not wish to set Specification Limits but still want to take advantage of this dynamic functionality, you can set blank Specification Limits for any Part/Test combination (of course you can also specify Lot, Job and/or Process if you need). The latest version of ProFicient allows non-applicable characteristics to be hidden the Data Entry Window. This greatly reduces confusion for operators.

In the ProFicient SPC menu bar, click Preference | Project | Special and check the Don't Process Hidden Charts and Hide chart bar button if characteristic is skipped options. To allow charts to respond to data entry selections, be sure to link charts to Data Entry Configurations.

To push Part, Process, and other items into any project, add the following commands to the end of the project name in a toolbar button:

  • /part=[PartName] OR %depart(DEC#)
  • /proc=[ProcessName] OR %deproc(DEC#)
  • /lot=[LotName] OR %delot(DEC#)
  • /shift=[ShiftName] OR %deshift(DEC#)

By using the %de syntax, you will push that item from the specified Data Entry Configuration into the project specified in the toolbar button command. This can greatly simplify data entry for operators because selections are made via navigation button rather than in data entry screens.

Toolbar Buttons and Navigation

Now that you have your project files cleaned out and consolidated, it is time to focus on how the users are going to navigate in your ProFicient environment. Create a home navigation project for your production/floor workstations. This is important for two reasons:

  1. You want to be able to control what the operators have access to by providing toolbar buttons for functions, projects and data entry.
  2. Potentially, you only need to provide one desktop shortcut on all workstations on the floor.

Before you publish your new home navigation project, be sure to check the Role Information table in Database Manager. Verify that the Operator (or equivalent) role has limited permissions. Inside a project, click Preference | Profiles | Roles in the ProFicient SPC menu bar. Since you are going to assign navigation and functionality to non-power users, be sure to restrict access to certain Menu Bar and Ribbon Bar items (for example, Project | Open, Chart | New, and Subgroup | Delete).

Focus on keeping projects consistent. The Toolbar Button layout and functionality should be similar across all projects. Try to reserve the left side of the Toolbar area for data entry buttons and the right for chart options, navigation and sign-on/sign-off.

Some More Tips and Tricks

To reduce operators switching between ProFicient and various Windows applications, create toolbar buttons to access common Intranet pages, document control programs, images, etc.

Workstation toolbar buttons (in the ProFicient SPC menu bar, click Preference | Workstation | Toolbar Buttons) can also come in handy for power users and administrators to access common functions such as Specified Control Limits or Defect Opportunities. They can also be used to easily navigate to management reporting projects. Don't forget to leave an open toolbar slot in your projects!

I hope this short guide has provided you with some ideas for simplifying your ProFicient SPC environment. As always, feel free to contact me or any of our Technical Service personnel if you need additional information on the topics covered.

Kyle Cahoon
By Kyle Cahoon
Application Engineer
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