Lot Reports—InfinityQS Helps You Keep Incoming and Finished Goods Up to Standards

Matthew Ryan
By Matthew Ryan | October 21, 2021
Senior Product Analyst

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

We often talk about how important inspections are to manufacturers, helping to ensure the quality of components that make up thousands, if not millions, of products.
 
Incoming inspections take place when a manufacturer buys raw materials from a vendor to include in, or help make, some kind of a finished product. Nobody creates anything from scratch; manufacturers are always buying one thing and turning it into another.
 
So, for instance, a food manufacturer might buy batches of sugar or salt or flour for their food product recipe. And they buy big batches. Manufacturers of electronics and other home consumer products might buy plastics and raw metals—materials that can be molded, ground down, or shaped into their finished product. And textile manufacturers may need things like dyes, polyester, or raw cotton to make the clothes they’re selling.
Batches Come in All Shapes, Sizes, and Containers

Incoming Inspections

Whatever type of manufacturing is taking place, manufacturers need to import products (raw materials) from vendors. And the quality of the incoming materials is going to affect the quality of everything they produce.
 
Therefore, when manufacturers buy raw materials to use in their manufacturing process, they need to know that the materials are good before they start using them.
 

That’s a Lot

Manufacturers need to look at batches in terms of both the short term and the long term. In the short term, manufacturers want to make sure one specific batch is good; but in the long term, they want to look at a history of the batches they've received from a particular vendor and ensure that this vendor is consistently meeting their needs. Is the vendor reliable? Or do we think that we can do better? Are the raw materials worth what we’re paying for them? These are the kinds of questions for which manufacturers require answers.
Inspecting Batches 
So, manufacturers are buying batches of materials for their production. And each of those batches has a number associated with it. Wherever it is purchased from, whatever form it comes in, the batch will have a number on it. And the number denotes the vendor and the lot designation. Manufacturers need a record that clearly tells them if the lot was good or bad. And if there was a problem with the materials, then they want to be able to trace it back to the source.
 

Enact Lot Reporting

Enact® is InfinityQS’ cloud-native statistical process control (SPC) quality management solution. Whatever industry you’re in, Enact can help you improve product quality in an affordable way and transform the way you view your quality data.
 
Lot reporting in Enact enables the manufacturer to associate lot numbers right along with the data that they're collecting.
 
Each manufacturer has its own particular data collection strategy. They might inspect the entirety of a batch, or they might inspect a sample from multiple batches (if the vendor is reliable enough). And they need a clear place in their quality management software to look at the data sorted by lot number.
 
Enact has different ways of looking at the data. You can look at it by shift, by timeframe, and more. With batches, you can't really divide the data by days—you can't say it was “Monday’s batch,” for example. That’s when you need the lot number.
 
And you need to be sure that you're looking at all of the data for that lot, so our software allows you to pull up a report by the lot number and see all of the data that was collected on it.
 
Below is a sample lot report for a batch of potato chips—you can see that we're measuring various weights. And we have the spec limits of each of these features that are being measured. Included are things like the mean and standard deviation, along with a host of other statistics.
Sample Lot Report 
Notice that a timeframe has been logged. If you need to figure out where a particular lot number is from, you can get the timeframe of when you started inspecting it and when you finished. So, for incoming inspection, you want to be able to have a clear view of the lot in its entirety, everything that you measured on it, the results of those measurements, and what that means in terms of the quality of the materials. And, if there’s a problem, you want to determine the lot’s origin.
 

Working with the Lot Report

With Enact, you can easily export the lot report in Excel format. You can then attach the report to an email, print it out, save it as a PDF, whatever you want to do. When you save it as an Excel spreadsheet, you can add your own columns and formulas and calculations to it. Very handy.
 
With Enact, all of your plans, all of your data collections, all the information about all of the lots that you've been working with, as well as the parts and the spec limits are all stored in a single, unified database repository. That means, as our COO, Doug Fair, pointed out in his Soar Above the Competition: Centralize Your Quality Data blog, your quality data will be standardized. And standardized data “makes everything easier when it comes to collecting, analyzing, and reporting on your quality data…and more powerful.”
 
That also means that you’re not limited to just this report. Enact has many different reports to choose from—many of which can be pulled up based on a lot number. That's very useful if you identify an issue and want to look more into it. You can use Enact's other tools on that same data.
Box & Whisker Chart 
So, the Box & Whisker above, in particular, is designed for this purpose. It's designed for looking at batches, but it's not the only way we have of looking at batches. So, this report helps you resolve issues with incoming parts, and it lets you make sure that your suppliers’ quality is under control, is reliable, and is consistent from one day to the next (or one month to the next, or however often you're buying from them). You can gauge whether that supplier is doing what they need to for your purposes.

And…Finished Goods

The things that manufacturers produce are “finished goods,” whether they’re actually finished products ready to sell, or just “finished” from your standpoint and ready to be shipped to some other manufacturer for them to create a finished product. The quality of these finished goods is dependent on how good (or bad) the materials that go into them are. But there’s a catch: these finished goods have your name on them. So, the buck stops here. You need to ensure that the incoming goods are up to your standards so that the finished goods you ship are as well.
 
To ensure quality, you want to make sure that you have a centralized registry of the lot numbers that you're producing, what parts they go to, what the spec limits are, and be able to examine that quality and make sure it's consistent. And then if there is a problem, you want to stop it before it is released or sold. You certainly don’t want to worry about an unhappy customer or, worse yet, a recall.
Enact Ensures Good Input and Good Output

Is it Good Enough to Sell?

Enact helps you ensure that you're not selling anything that's bad. The lot report is a good place to start with whenever you're sending out a lot—look it over and make sure that your critical features are performing as expected.
 
You can also prove to the person you're selling to that the product is good. We know that many manufacturers appreciate a report that's like a certificate of analysis that says, essentially, "The thing that we're selling you is good. Here's the proof; here are the checks that we did on it. And here's why we're approving it to be sold to you." Evidence to the person you're selling to that this product meets all of their specifications, is totally compliant, and “you can count on us because we did all these inspections to make sure of it.” That's valuable and many manufacturers absolutely need that.
Lot Report in Excel 
Typically, manufacturers have their own report template that they use, so what we suggest is exporting this report to Excel (like the example above). You can remove any columns you want from it—which might be the performance indicators, Pp and the Ppk, or some other values. Then, you can copy and paste whatever columns and rows your customer might be focusing on into your existing template.
 

In Closing

So, that’s the lot reporting functionality in Enact. Lot reports can help you feel secure in the knowledge that the raw materials you use in your manufacturing process are good before you start using them, and that the “finished” products you create and sell are, too.
 
Coming soon to Enact: lot traceability and lot genealogy. From raw inputs to finished goods, Enact will maximize quality and ensure compliance every step of the way.
 
 
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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