Enterprise Visibility Blog Series – Part 1 – Use What You Already Have

Steve Wise
By Steve Wise | December 4, 2019
Vice President of Statistical Methods

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

This blog series is all about visibility. Visibility into the data you collect in your manufacturing organization. In this, part one, we’re going to look at turning the data you already collect into something useful and tangible. Something actionable. And the way to do that is with increased visibility and visualization into that data.
Parts two and three will focus on the types of systems that manufacturers already employ to try to increase their visibility and the ways in which your organization can succeed with that visibility, respectively.
Use Existing DataEver notice how some of the better movies are adaptations of plays, novels, or novellas? Sometimes starting from scratch is more difficult than taking a fully-realized idea and bringing that to life. Starting from scratch can be a big undertaking—it can be cost-prohibitive…and downright scary. Why re-invent the wheel when all the requisite parts are right under your nose?
Let’s apply this thought process to manufacturing, specifically to manufacturing quality. In fact, let’s take it a step further, to manufacturing quality data. Allow me to explain.

You Already Have What You Need

Are you looking for a means to increase output, decrease costs, and improve quality across your manufacturing organization without breaking the bank? You don’t need to invest in expensive replacement technology; nor do you need to settle for the legacy proprietary system with limited functionality you’ve been limping along with for a while. The optimal solution is likely in your hands already—you simply need a means to transform your organization’s scattered quality data into actionable insights. What you need is improved visibility into that data.

Recipe for Visibility

You probably already have the primary ingredient for expanded visibility: an abundance of process- and quality-related data. That’s right! The data you’re already collecting! Too often, companies “silo,” or quarantine, their quality data within site-specific databases or (worse yet) tuck it all away in file cabinets. You need the right method to expose all your data, regardless of location, and turn it into something useful and sustainable that you can access when and where you need it.
Shop Floor Data

Envisioning a Brighter Future

How can you approach this challenge? A successful enterprise visibility solution has several hallmarks:
  • Data aggregation
  • Collaboration and mobility
  • Support for both historical and real-time analysis
  • Built-in integration and flexibility
  • Reduced burden on IT resources
InfinityQS offers a solution that can work with existing systems and a multitude of databases, measurement systems, and technologies—right out of the box.

Data Aggregation

With the right solution, disparate data can be aggregated so that information from different sources can be displayed together, regardless of where and how it is stored (geography and technology).
A platform that can aggregate data from multiple locations, devices, or databases into a centralized, unified data repository can give you the long-term, large-scale view that elevates your decision-making.
Event Pareto Chart

Collaboration and Mobility

Data that used to be visible only to a line manager needs to be available to corporate quality or process improvement professionals anywhere in your organization—anywhere in the world. Your chief operating officer should be able to view operational performance metrics on his/her tablet while your plant floor supervisor stays fully informed of current operational activities from their office laptop.
Your key stakeholders need to communicate and solve problems, no matter how far apart they are geographically.
A cloud-based approach and mobile technology can facilitate your ability to access data anytime, anywhere. An on demand, cloud-based solution supports access to data through any type of device, enabling better collaboration across the enterprise and shortening the time to action if a quality issue arises.

Support for Both Historical and Real-time Analysis

Identifying high- and low-performing production processes is a key challenge for any manufacturing enterprise. The right solution collects and unifies historical process and quality data and presents it so that anyone can compare production performance across multiple dimensions of the enterprise, locally as well as across multiple plants.
Of course, real-time quality systems are particularly important to plant-floor personnel, who need to know as soon as possible when a high-value manufacturing process is degrading. Real-time control charts, presented as an operator display, offer process variation data in live, dynamic plots that automatically update.
Control Chart
A solid solution will also let you set up rules for automated notifications and alerts that warn you if data indicates that quality has fallen outside your defined parameters.

Built-in Integration and Flexibility

You might worry whether a robust visibility solution can integrate with your existing Quality Management systems or databases, without requiring expensive upgrades or technology replacement. That’s a legitimate concern.
Beware of solutions that require the purchase or use of a highly proprietary reporting or intelligence software that works with your legacy systems—these systems lock you in with one vendor or don’t offer a full range of functionality.

Reduced Burden on IT Resources

Today, you probably need to justify every penny of IT cost. Any visibility solution must be user-friendly and preferably easy to implement (install, deploy, and maintain).
The best visibility solutions work with practically any infrastructure and database. In addition, a solution that offers self-service reporting capabilities can deliver significant savings in your use of IT resources.
Shop Floor Data Collection

Questions to Consider

With a visibility solution that meets these demands, you gain the ability to answer some pretty vital questions:
  • How can I optimize quality production for a given product?
  • How can I be sure a specific line is operating at full capacity?
  • How can I apply the successes of one plant to all sites?
  • How can I standardize processes and production across all sites, especially when those sites span several countries?
  • How can I generate reports that meet the needs of a variety of employees and teams or that show customized data views, without placing additional burdens on IT resources?
  • How can I reduce the complexity and time demands of audits and regulatory compliance?
  • How can I compare processes across the plant or across multiple plants?

Solutions Vary

The benefits of multiple plant or enterprise-wide visibility are many—and so are the available software options. Many companies have already invested heavily in some type of solution. These systems can provide some level of enterprise visibility, but they aren’t all equally useful.
In the following entries in this blog series, we’ll delve further into enterprise visibility with a close look at the types of systems in which companies invest, as well as the success you can achieve with increased, enterprise-wide visibility. Please join us for those blogs.
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.
Please feel free to read our Enterprise Visibility white paper for more detailed information.
Quick links to the other blogs in this series:

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