A Good Escape is a Rare Thing Indeed

B.K. Im
By B.K. Im | February 14, 2019
Vice President and CFO

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

One Man’s Loose Change...

…is another man’s rare coin that’s worth thousands! A recent CBS News article entitled “Rare penny found in cafeteria change to sell at auction” is the story of how a teen received a rare coin in his lunch change that was worth over $100,000! Nice to read a feel-good story once in a while, isn’t it?
Anyway, the story goes that, at a US Mint, a “small number of bronze planchets [a plain metal disc from which a coin is made—I know, not a common term these days—I had to look it up; thanks, Google!] was caught in the trap doors of the mobile tote bins used to feed blanks into the coin presses.” This was at the end of 1942.
Those bronze discs were then fed into the coin press, which led to the creation of some bronze pennies that were “lost in the flood of millions” of steel pennies. So, long story short, it fell into the lap of a kid from Massachusetts in 1947 when he was buying his lunch. Read the story for more details; it’s pretty cool.
Rare Good Escape

All’s Well that Ends Well

So, this got me thinking. This is not only a rare coin, it’s also one of the few cases of an “escape” that is good. And has a happy ending. Most escapes in the manufacturing industry do not end well.
They are to be avoided. As my colleague, Brad Forrest, so aptly put it in his Escape blog a little while back, when an escape happens you’ve got to “contain it right away. Particularly if you’re in Food & Beverage, Aerospace & Defense, automotive, medical devices, or pharmaceuticals.” Basically, any consumable product that could harm someone if a bad one escaped.

Good and Bad Escapes

OK, there are "good escapes" and "bad escapes." In general, an escape is rarely a good thing. Between deadly diseases and desperate prisoners, most escapes conjure unsettling images, to say the least. For us in the manufacturing space, escape can be an ominous thing…like when a sub-par product escapes and you’re held liable!
Bad Escape

So How Do You Prevent Manufacturing Escapes?

To put it succinctly, SPC and quality intelligence. Allow me to explain. Way back in 2018 (remember 2018? Seems like a long time ago…), our COO here at InfinityQS, Doug Fair, blogged about “Hunting the Big Picture and the Big Payoff” with SPC. In that blog, Doug talked about quality intelligence and how misconceptions about SPC have led many manufacturers to either not use this marvelous tool to its fullest extent, or not even adopt it at all. He mentioned how SPC is much more than control charts or data collection. Sure, those are aspects of SPC, but if you limit yourself to those you are doing yourself a disservice.
Furthermore, Doug explained that SPC is about “repurposing shop floor quality data for use by quality professionals, managers, Six Sigma specialists, and engineers—those people who need insight into the ‘big picture’ of quality.”

So, What’s the Big Picture? And Why is it So Important?

So glad you asked! The big picture is “summary information that can be used to understand quality levels across multiple product codes, lines, and plants.” Your quality pros need greater visibility into where they can make the greatest improvements in their business in the shortest amount of time.
Real-Time SPC Prevents Escapes
Quality intelligence—powered by SPC—that’s what your quality pros are all about. That's why they come in to work every day. The way they get that “big picture” view of your organization is with data aggregation. Data aggregation is rolling up data across your manufacturing enterprise and uncovering where the greatest opportunities exist for reducing waste, reducing costs, and improving quality. This is how you get a huge return on your SPC investment.

Other Escapes

So, the topic of escapes lends itself to many avenues of thought. It goes beyond just letting a sub-par product escape from your company and wind up in the hands of a customer…
By not using quality intelligence, you are letting increased revenue; decreased scrap, waste, defects, and rework; and improved productivity all escape your grasp. These improvements are all possible when you implement a solid, thoughtful SPC program.
In his blog SPC Demystified, InfinityQS’ VP of Statistical Methods, Steve Wise, discusses what SPC truly is (there are a lot of misconceptions out there), and how it can change your business—for the better.
No Good Escapes

An Ounce of Prevention

Instead of looking for ways to fix problems, doesn’t it make more sense to prevent them? Prevent the escapes? Well SPC is a way in which your organization can “build a better mousetrap,” so to speak.
The first thing you want to do is ditch the paper. Manual data collection has a propensity to introduce a myriad of errors, including:
  • Numbers could be accidentally transposed
  • Data written on paper may be illegible or misinterpreted
  • The paper might be damaged or lost
And more. Please read Steve’s blog for details.
Then there are alerts and notifications. “SPC works best when your system provides reminders to operators and inspectors when data collections are required.” And “if data collections are missed or skipped, you should be notified, and reports should tell you what was missed and why.”
SPC Ensures Consistency

The Power of Analysis

But the real power of quality intelligence comes in analysis. “Your analysts should be able to identify process improvements that will enhance quality in a specific area, which can then be turned into best practices that can be applied across the enterprise.”
By using a robust SPC solution, like those offered here at InfinityQS, you can prevent sub-par product escapes from your facility, bolster your organization’s future by helping improve processes, and help your quality pros get the information they need to see the big picture of quality and to help you make transformative decisions.

Goodbye Bad Escapes, Hello ROI

When you roll up your data and focus on discovering those nuggets that reveal opportunities for improvement, you will be preventing escapes. The minor failures, the bad products that are “almost good enough” will become glaring weaknesses to you—and you’ll turn those opportunities into improvements in your processes that you never knew you could before.
Learn more about real-time SPC on our website.
Learn about our products Enact® and ProFicient™.

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