Operational Insights 1: Using Enterprise Visibility to Answer the Big Questions

Steve Wise
By Steve Wise | April 27, 2020
Vice President of Statistical Methods

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

We all know how competitive the manufacturing world is. And it’s getting more and more competitive all the time. When the world goes crazy, everything becomes magnified. Competition becomes more cut-throat, profit margins become narrower, and we must all find new ways to increase our ability to remain profitable.
The status quo isn’t going to cut it anymore. Today, it’s essential to move past “just good enough” and seize every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage—no matter what industry you’re in. The way you do that is by taking advantage of today’s advanced technology, specifically, your quality manufacturing software. And what is your quality manufacturing software’s biggest benefit? We call it actionable information. The way to get to actionable information is via the operational insights you glean from enterprise visibility.
Operational Insights

The InfinityQS Excellence Loop

This blog is the first of three in which we explore operational insights. When you look at the InfinityQS Excellence Loop—the blueprint for organizational success in quality manufacturing—you can see that operational insight is a key component to reaching your quality goals.
Excellence Loop
Why is the Excellence Loop important? Because manufacturing is all about quality management. Quality management keeps your products’ designed fit, form, and function at a consistent high level and your customers coming back.
In past blog series, we’ve looked at Re-imagining Quality in the manufacturing world, and we’ve begun our journey through the Excellence Loop by focusing on Enterprise Visibility. Please feel free to check those posts out; there’s lots of great information in them. Let’s now venture deeply into Operational Insights and see why they’re so important, even vital, to your modern-day quality goals. Begin with a shift in mindset…

Take Quality to a Higher Level

If you’re worn out from performing daily short-term quality fixes, only to see the same problems randomly pop up again and again; if you’re fed up with dealing with emergencies but never really getting ahead of the quality curve; and if you wish you had time instead to look at the “big picture” of quality and identify the biggest improvement opportunities, then guess what, you’re like most quality managers. We’d all like to break this frustrating cycle, but that goal can seem hopeless—if you stay stuck in the standard “firefighting” mode of most quality management systems. Cut to the wide shot…
With true enterprise-wide visibility into the quality data you already collect, you can shift away from reactive (firefighting) mode and transform into a proactive, strategic quality leader.
You may think that’s a radical shift in mindset. But when you can see and analyze all the quality data across your enterprise, all in one place, you gain the operational insight you need to identify systemic problems and make the greatest impact on company performance. As colleague Doug Fair, InfinityQS COO, says in his blog, Shifting Manufacturing Quality Paradigms, the times they are a-changing (please pardon my paraphrasing). When most manufacturers make improvements to manufacturing processes, Doug asks, “Those improvements will be localized, right? That is, I can make an improvement at a production line, or for a particular product code, at a single plant…and those things take place at the plant level. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has shattered that paradigm.”
Shifting Quality Paradigm 
Furthermore, he says, “SaaS provides manufacturers with the capability to have data collection and visibility across the entirety of an enterprise. SaaS provides our quality improvement experts at the corporate level (from anywhere around the globe) to be able to sort, slice, and dice data anyway they want from across plants, across departments, across the enterprise, across regions. It just doesn't matter anymore; there are no limitations.”
With the right solution, an InfinityQS quality management solution, you can start asking—and answering—the big questions that can take product quality management at your organization to the next level and move your business ahead of the competition.

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

As a quality professional, most of your time is likely spent focusing on the negative—out of necessity. If the quality of your product takes a dip, or checks aren’t performed, or issues aren’t addressed, the consequences can range from simple bad news to the catastrophic: angry customers, waste, rework, recalls, regulatory fines, even long-term damage to your company’s brand. That can easily result in the death knell in today’s manufacturing world. We can’t let that happen.
Of course, it’s vital to solve quality problems as quickly as possible, whenever and wherever they occur. Many companies have deployed some form of a quality management system that provides data to help them put out those daily/hourly fires. But only quality management solutions that deliver true enterprise-wide visibility can provide the operational insights that you can use to prevent problems from occurring and make meaningful improvements throughout your entire enterprise. You can quickly determine where and how to utilize your precious resources, save money, and work toward continuous improvement.
Continuous Improvement 
It’s critical for manufacturers to adopt a new vision, or paradigm, if you will, of what quality means in their operations. The status quo just isn’t good enough anymore. In today’s manufacturing environment, it’s essential to go beyond “just good enough” and seize every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in your industry. To do that, you need actionable information. When you have actionable information, you gain insights into every level of your organization, and you can stop focusing on the negative, see the positive, and start making impactful, strategic decisions.

In Closing

Re-imagining what quality means is not an easy thing to grasp, nor is it necessarily easy to get your employees to understand and buy into. In our next blog in this series, we’ll take a look at why it’s so important and the mental shift it takes to get there. And we’ll delve into the world of the centralized data repository, the heart of enterprise visibility and operational insights.

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™.


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