Operational Insights 2: The Problem with Fixing Problems

Welcome to the life of a quality manager: Firefighter extraordinaire. All emergencies, all the time. Whatever industry you work in, most days are a version of the same old story. Something doesn’t meet specifications. Whether because of machine failure or process divergence, the product made isn’t meeting your quality standards. Somewhere along the line, there’s a problem, and it’s up to you and your team to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it—as quickly as possible.
 
We mentioned in part one of this blog series that maintaining the status quo just isn’t good enough anymore. You need to seize every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in your industry. Right away. And there’s no way out of the status quo cycle. You spend so much time addressing urgent issues that you have little or no time to think of your operations in the long-term. There’s no time to consider how quality data could be used to strategically make big improvements that benefit all production lines in all plants. You must overcome multiple hurdles before you can shift from reactive to proactive. At the heart of this challenge is how your company collects and stores quality data. This is the InfinityQS “wheelhouse.” We are masters of data collection and all that entails.
Monitoring Data Collection

Data Collection and Storage — Don't Let It Be a Disaster

If your company is like most, then there are lots of systems that store bits of information that are critical to understanding overall quality. But they’re all over the place. Literally. There are multiple types of data, generated by multiple systems, and they’re stored in multiple locations. In far too many cases, no single system stores all your data. From ERP and MES systems to spreadsheets and paper, quality information is scattered and de-centralized. It’s time to defuse that bomb before it goes off. It’s time to centralize.
 
When a problem occurs, you need to determine where the problem originated, right? That means reviewing data that provides traceability specific to when, where, and how the issue occurred. Some of this data might be written on paper, some stored in the MES system, and some entered in spreadsheets. To do your job, you must hunt down each separate piece of data to try and fit the puzzle together. Depending on the amount of data collected, that hunt can be time-consuming, overwhelming, even impossible.
Plant Floor

Breaking the Cycle

The cycle of the firefight, the hunt for data, the collating and formatting of data, and finally the analysis (if even possible), is exhausting. It’s easy to see why quality professionals rarely have the time to do anything but chase down and put out whatever fire has cropped up that day. But what if all of your quality data were centralized? What if those different systems automatically saved the critical information you need into a centralized data repository? If that happened, then you could:
  • Consolidate quality information in one place
  • Review quality data from across the enterprise
  • Get faster, easier access to the data you need
  • Generate previously unknown insights that could improve quality across all plants
 Monitoring

An Ounce of Prevention

A solution that unifies your data from all its diverse sources and presents it in one centralized, easy-to-access data repository provides true visibility. It enables automated analysis and reporting about what’s happening in any process, in real time—across your entire enterprise. (We go into more detail about how this works in the Enterprise Visibility blog series.)
 
When combined with your quality experience, that enterprise visibility enables an approach that goes well beyond after-the-fact firefighting and leads to real understanding of the workings of your whole organization. And it provides actionable information.
 
The insights you can now attain from across the enterprise come from accessing this actionable information--insights that can enable your quality professionals to drive big, sweeping quality improvement and cost reduction. Pretty exciting stuff. When data are centralized, you can easily analyze data specific to any combination of plants, regions, products, processes, shifts, employees, jobs, lots, production orders, suppliers—and just about any other criteria—and do so from anywhere…on any device. You no longer need to be running around gathering paper, working with spreadsheets, or trying to transpose, format, and normalize data to support your analysis.
 
With critical quality information at your fingertips and available in a unified format, you can create reports that point you to the best places in your operations to prioritize your efforts. You can quickly solve most crises, leaving time to shift into proactive mode. And proactive thinking enables you to strategically use quality information to generate the greatest organization-wide benefits.
 

Reporting Ease

Imagine being able to see how your entire enterprise or factory is performing on a single report. With InfinityQS quality management solutions, you can do so by just opening a browser on your tablet or smart phone—and see region- and/or plant-specific summaries and details.
Enterprise-Wide Visibility
Pull up charts, graphs, and analyses to begin unraveling cross-plant problems and determine the best tactics for fixing them.
Box & Whisker and Pareto Charts

Insight by Leaps and Bounds

This level of extensive and unified data availability opens up new possibilities. With an InfinityQS quality management solution, you find yourself with more time in the day. You can devote some of it to analyzing aggregated historical data to look for patterns and trends. Access to data across all equipment, processes, and production lines makes comparing data throughout facilities as easy as a few clicks of the mouse.
 
A solution that makes data readily available and easy to analyze can produce immediate results. InfinityQS solutions feature easy-to-use and easy-to-read interfaces that can deliver real-time information on the plant floor or to your tablet or any laptop (even a mobile phone). And easy-to-configure, flexible, targeted reports can pull in aggregated historical information not just from across a line, but from across your entire plant—even from multiple plants—without requiring expensive hardware purchases or ripping and replacing existing systems.
 

In Closing

Remember how we said it’s up to you and your team to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it—as quickly as possible? Well, that’s a promise that our quality management systems can keep. In part three of this series, we’ll look at broadening your quality horizon, asking the tough questions about your quality management efforts, and maintaining a better way of looking at your manufacturing quality.
 
Read the other two blogs in this 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.
 
Learn more about our quality management systems, Enact® and ProFicient.
 
 
Sign up now to begin three free months of Enact software.
 
 
Steve Wise
By Steve Wise
Vice President of Statistical Methods
See Full Bio


 

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