What Does Efficient Look Like?

Manufacturing organizations all tend to have the same goal: Keep the lines running! That makes sense: Downtime interrupts productivity, which increases costs, which reduces profits. But focusing only on uptime means many manufacturing plants operate in “firefighter” mode. They wait until something goes wrong, then scramble to fix the problem as quickly as possible. 
 
Imagine what would change if instead of just reacting to issues, you could better anticipate problems and ensure consistency in your final products regardless of line, plant, or region?
 
Inefficiency vs Efficiency
What does inefficiency look like in a manufacturing organization? When quality is low, engineering, quality, and manufacturing teams are in reactive mode, attending to the most critical problems. Generally, inefficiency is driven by inconsistent manufacturing. When the same products are being made, but they are made slightly differently on various lines, shifts, and by different plants, you end up with 
  • lots of scrap and rework;
  • more unplanned downtime;
  • and most important, inconsistency in the quality of your products.
Consider an example: You buy your favorite sport drink in Chicago. The next week, you’re traveling in Europe and buy the same beverage. You expect the drink to taste the same, right? What happens if they don’t?
 
If your company manufactures that sport drink, it now has a big problem: loss of customer trust as a result of inconsistent taste. But wait, it’s only one drink, you say. How much difference can just one customer experience really make?
 
Well, let’s say that that one bad drink results from just 1% inconsistency in the manufacturing process in one line. Now, imagine your company has hundreds of lines running in 75 plants, in different countries, producing thousands of drinks per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 4 weeks per month, 12 months per year.
 
Is that 1% still no big deal?
 
Consistency Means Efficiency
Companies can avoid this problem by ensuring manufacturing efficiency. What does efficiency look like? Controlled, consistent lines producing products as uniformly as possible.
 
When your machines and processes are consistent, your lines have fewer problems and run longer without interruptions. Longer runs mean the company spends less—lower cost per unit; less time diverting people from their usual tasks to conduct costly inspections; and less scrap, rework, and downtime. The benefits of efficient lines and processes cascade all the way to your customers in the form of consistent products—and all the way to your company’s bottom line. You build customer trust and loyalty while protecting your brand and enhancing profits.
 
Where Does Efficiency Begin?
The journey to efficiency begins with awareness, or visibility. You have to know what your processes and machines are doing, otherwise you are blind to where efficiencies can be gained. And this journey starts with data. A true Quality Intelligence solution is great at telling you when something goes wrong. However, it can also help ensure efficiency by gathering and consolidating data to highlight where inefficiency occurs.  
 
When you take the time to step back and learn from the visibility that a Quality Intelligence system can provide, you learn things about your manufacturing processes that you probably didn’t know before: That’s operational insight. Every machine, every process has its own “personality,” issues, and problems. Insight lets you understand how to account for those issues and adjust processes, lines, machines, and tools to achieve the greatest product uniformity.
 
Finally, you must act on those insights to maximize efficiency.  Organizations that act on these Quality Intelligence insights can literally transform business performance.
 
In a world where even 1% inconsistency can make or break a company, don’t you want to do everything possible to achieve efficiency?
 
 
Doug Fair
By Doug Fair
Chief Operating Officer
See Full Bio

QUALITY CHECK DIGEST

Never miss a post. Sign up to receive a weekly roundup of the latest Quality Check blogs.

Take the Next Steps