How to Use Quality Data to Connect the Enterprise

Mistakes on the plant floor are bound to happen– it is inevitable. At one point or another, a production line will overfill bottles of soda or incorrectly label allergens on a bag of potato chips. Fortunately, technology can alert operators to take corrective actions and restart the lines, allowing production to continue as usual.
 
While reacting to plant-floor quality problems is necessary, it is simply not enough. In order to take it one step further and obtain insight into
a much bigger quality picture, manufacturers
must go beyond using technology just to monitor quality data at the plant level and elevate it to an enterprise perspective. Luckily, the capabilities already exist for manufacturers to take this next step. They must resurrect the quality data they have already collected and roll it up to gain enterprise visibility that sets in motion company-wide global transformation. In turn, this second-life-of-data strategy becomes a competitive business advantage.
 
Resurrecting Quality Data
Quality data is typically collected on shop floor production lines. When alarms are triggered indicating a problem has occurred, corrective actions such as machine adjustments, foreign object removal, or raw material fixes are employed. This is not the time to bury that data. Instead, this is an optimal opportunity to take this rich information to the next level and use it to transform operations. Resurrecting previously ignored data and using it in its “second life” can greatly improve operational effectiveness on a macro scale.
 
Whereas the first life of data exists on the shop floor for operators and inspectors, the data’s second life begins when it is aggregated to provide visibility into quality and processes across the entire enterprise. In this way, quality issues can be identified at the macro level, allowing management to pinpoint the greatest opportunities for global performance improvement throughout all operations.
 
Leverage the Cloud to Connect the Enterprise
Deploying Statistical Process Control (SPC) software in the cloud allows existing systems and hardware to be retained on premises while gaining enterprise-wide visibility and accessibility into essential data. When the software is hosted in the cloud, it can serve as a centralized repository that accepts data in various formats — from any existing data collection devices and input services at any location. Also, because all data resides in a unified repository, it’s necessary to standardize naming conventions and normalize the data to facilitate analysis in real time. This minimizes issues related to informal product designations that may be employed at different facilities.
 
Moreover, because a cloud-based solution is securely hosted by a vendor that monitors and maintains the systems and infrastructure, there is a reduced impact on IT, and no need for on-site software installation or expensive hardware or infrastructure upgrades. By simply logging into the SPC software through a web browser, quality professionals can break through geographical, cultural, and infrastructural barriers to connect facilities from the United States to China, and everywhere in between.
 
Elevate Analysis to the Enterprise Level
Once resurrected and centralized, data can be rolled up to the enterprise level. Here, quality professionals, VPs, operations managers, and C-level executives can look at insightful dashboards and analyze trends from enterprise-wide data. An operations director who oversees 50 plants can compare data across locations and immediately identify the biggest opportunities to reduce costs, improve defect levels, and minimize the probability of product recalls. Moreover, if that operations director finds that one plant is performing exceptionally well, then he/she can roll out its best practices to every plant and replicate its successes throughout the company.
 
Improve Global Performance with Operational Insight
The operational insight and enterprise visibility obtained from a connected enterprise ensure that management and C-level executives can identify opportunities to transform global performance and quality—and do so rapidly. Now, instead of just reacting to an issue, manufacturers can proactively and strategically approach quality initiatives and investments.
 
Think about it this way: Instantaneously adjusting a production line at one facility is great. But, being able to look at all products across all production lines in the enterprise is even better. This type of visibility instantly allows management to prioritize actions specific to particular plants, production lines, and products—providing the organization with the greatest reduction in costs in a very short period of time.
 
In this scenario, enterprise visibility leads to operational insight, which provides organizations the greatest opportunity to transform global quality and costs.
 
By using quality data to connect the enterprise and attain end-to-end visibility, organizations can achieve exponential improvements in the quality of their products and in the cost structures of their businesses. The technology is available today to help organizations re-imagine quality as an opportunity to transform organizational efficiencies and dramatically enhance business performance. Combining the right motivation with cloud technology, any manufacturer can capitalize on these opportunities to positively and quickly impact the bottom line and establish a lasting competitive advantage. 

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