Automating Quality Checks: A Small Start Leads to Big Changes
A well-established container manufacturer with many customers and tens of thousands of product types has been using a manual, labor-intensive quality process for its products. When operators started a new order, or job, they had to scroll through thousands of parts, descriptors, and so on looking for the right information for that job. The result? A high data error rate and a lot of wasted time.
experts worked with plant management to set up an advanced implementation of Data Management System (DMS) and Data Collection Service (DCS)
to populate information from the manufacturer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution automatically in projects based on job number, making the new quality-check process clean and efficient.
This large company has been working for years with a manual, paper-based quality check process. Until recently, it had no technology-based process or tools for quality checking its products — not even a computer on the manufacturing floor. However, it did have an ERP solution, and all the job information — part numbers, process information, test information, specifications, descriptors, and more — is stored in the ERP system’s database.
After discussions with plant management, we set up pilot DMS and DCS instances on one line in one plant. We created projects that use job-controlled data entry tied to the ERP system’s database. Now, when operators run a new job, they simply enter the job number in the DMS, and the system knows which parts are needed, what the label looks like, and the specs and requirements for the job — all with full details. The system populates all the correct information from the ERP database based on that one simple job number.
This is a small, conservative start, but the manufacturer is planning to roll out the solution to other lines in this and its other plants. It’s an easy process from here to create new projects, as the solution scales quickly and well.
The container company sees many benefits from starting this transition in limited way, including:
- improving quality on an important line;
- training only the operators responsible for that line rather than the entire plant; and
- little disruption to other lines.
For this company, starting small and ramping up will lead to big changes for the better!