Quality Manufacturing Challenges 1: Audits and Reporting

Matt Tweedy
By Matt Tweedy | March 9, 2020
Vice President of Product Management

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

Over the next few weeks, I’ll use this blog series as a platform to address many of the quality challenges that businesses face in today’s high-tech, high-pressure manufacturing world, and how our quality improvement solutions can help you rise above those challenges, exceed expectations, and transform your organization. I’d like to begin with audits and reporting.
We all know that audits and reporting can be stressful, but they really don’t have to be. One of the many reasons we created Enact®, InfinityQS’ cloud-native Quality Intelligence platform, is to take the pain out of these tasks. To make reporting powerful, robust, and a breeze. And to make audit anxiety a thing of the past.
Audits and Reporting Anxiety

The In and Out

Let’s begin our discussion of audits and reporting by looking at what we’re dealing with here in the most basic terms I can think of: input and output. That’s right. From the 90,000-foot level, you can say that quality management software is really all about the following: how do we get data into the system, and how do we get knowledge out?

Input: Data Collection

So, let’s start there. Getting data into the system is data collection, right? One of my favorite things about Enact is that data is all treated the same. Data is just data. It can be collected in any way you like. In your average manufacturing environment, there are lots of machines and data collection devices, each speaking its own unique language. The Enact Quality Intelligence platform can hear what each device is saying, translate it into a common language (or format), and store everything in one place.
And while storing it into our centralized, unified data repository, it is standardized and all treated the same. There are many benefits to this centralized data, but the most outstanding in my view is that it offers enterprise visibility.
Data collected and stored in a single place offers you the ability to aggregate it (roll it up), see the big picture of quality (what’s really going on in your organization), make important insights into the data, and take that information and make sound strategic decisions…thus transforming your business. As my colleague, Doug Fair, InfinityQS COO, states in his blog, SPC: Hunting the Big Picture and the Big Payoff, “If companies want to know how best to improve the organization’s overall quality and manufacturing performance, they need to expand their view across the organization.”
From this expanded, organization-wide view of your data you can compare machines, lines, sites, or (and here’s the kicker) your entire enterprise. That’s the big picture in action.
Quality Checks

Output: Reports—Audits and Internal

When you’re talking about getting knowledge out, a big part of that is reports. Reports run the gamut from internal for a supervisor or to a board, internal to a team (quality, operators, etc.), or audit knowledge/intelligence—data you’ve put together to prove compliance of some sort, or to meet recognized standards. It’s all just output. Data you’ve collected is now available for you to show or prove something.
All of the data, when it is collected, is analyzed the same in Enact, it all plays by consistent rules, regardless of how it was collected. This transforms your “audit anxiety” by removing the uncertainty.  No longer are you wondering "Am I sure that we caught all of the ’problems‘ that I set up in my system?"  With Enact, all incoming data is being processed consistently, based on the rules you define. You know that regardless of “how” your data was collected, it’s all being processed consistently.
So, now that violations are consistently being applied across the whole gamut of your data stream and all of the streams that are coming in, how do you transform that into intelligence? Well, it just so happens, that's another area where we identified something that we could definitely improve with Enact: exception-based reporting.

Exception-Based Reporting

Enact is going to tell you when there's a problem because if there's not a problem, you'll probably have better things to do. Sounds sensible, right? From the operator’s viewpoint, this is very much in line with what they want. My operator only needs to know to do something right now, so they can just get on with their regular job.
Enact - Data Collection Due 
Their regular job is not typing information into quality software; it’s not looking at a bunch of charts; it’s certainly not digging into reports that might be generated. Their job is to measure the data regularly and then find out very quickly after they enter that data, "Do I need to react to this? Do I need to adjust anything, yes or no?"  If the answer's no, then they can go and do the rest of their job, the thing that I need the operator to do.
Operators love it that they no longer have walls of charts in front of them. They no longer need dig through a haystack to find two or three needles; they are presented with exactly what they need: a screen that says, in essence, “You’re good. Keep on doing what you’re doing.” Relief. Ease. Or they get a screen that informs them, “You have 10 minutes to your next data collection.” Cool. They can finish whatever is they’re working on and then tackle the data collection when it’s due. No stress. Total focus. Who doesn’t want that?

Oh, No…an Audit!

If you say that, or any variation thereof, stop right now. You don’t have to. From an auditing standpoint, your operators are being informed every timed interval (hour, half-hour, whatever it may be), so they never miss a collection. If they do, it is recorded and reported to the proper authority (quality, management, whomever that might be at your organization). All the data coming in—whether it’s automatically or from a gauge or just an operator typing into the interface—that information is being presented consistently to the person responsible for the data collection.
So, when an auditor requests to look back at a specific date or time and validate that every data collection was performed when it was supposed to be, that information is there and (hopefully) all the checks were performed…on time, by the correct person, and so on.
Audits a Breeze 
You, as a quality pro, or supervisor, can dive into the record, see that there was an exception, see an event (a notification or alarm), see the codes associated with that, as well as the date and time and responsible party, and check that the exception was resolved.
I hope these examples make it clear that the analysis and exception-based reporting in Enact is streamlined for users—quality pros, engineers, supervisors, everyone.

Auditors Get Only What They Ask For

I think the most powerful thing about Enact’s exception-based reporting is that auditors don’t get a ton of data they don’t need, or didn’t ask for, and find ways to root around for who-knows-what. You, as a supervisor in charge of the audit process for your organization, go into the software and pick the events that say when data collections were due, “And look, yes, they were all completed and successful. This proves we did all our data collections on March 12th. The rule states that 24 are due, every hour of the day, so there you go.”
There’s never any need to give an auditor an entire day’s worth of all your data for them to cull through. Right to the point. Every time.
Enact on the Plant Floor

In Closing

It’s easy to see how Enact helps you, and your operators, with the challenges and expectations associated with reporting and audits. Input and output from your quality management system are consistent and reliable.
Worries about data collections are a thing of the past. Analysis is direct and clear. And reporting and audits become much less stressful. It’s great that InfinityQS obviously had you, the manufacturer, in mind when we developed Enact. Fear and confusion be gone!
Please return to this blog section of our website next week for another entry in our quality manufacturing challenges series: Complexity and Efficiency.
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.

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