5S The SPC Project - Episode 5
Welcome to the InfinityQS “Tales from the Trenches.” In this video series we present real-life quality professionals discussing how they solved important quality control managementand process problems at their manufacturing facilities. These quality professionals get into the details and show how they leveraged InfinityQS software to solve the problem, including how they identified the root cause.
An organized quality monitoring program is more effective.
In today’s episode, quality manager, Ian Farrell, will discuss how he applied 5S principles of organization to his company’s SPC programs. The result was a better program for everyone.
We hope you enjoy the video.
Hello, I’m Ian Farrell, and for the last 18 years I have worked as a quality manager in the food and manufacturing industries. In this “Tales from the Trenches” episode, we’re going to talk about “5S SPC Projects.”
Maybe you’ve heard the term “5S” before, the idea that it’s better to have a clean, organized workspace in order to improve efficiency. Well, that same principle can apply to your statistical process control program.
When you take the time to 5S principles your SPC workspace, I think you’re going to find that everyone benefits. Operators are happier and managers can more easily find the data they’re looking for.
Staff turnover, scope creep, new market segments. All across the manufacturing sector there are forces at work to reduce order and replace it with chaos.
These entropic forces are inevitable; there will always be a potential new product or emerging technology that you have to incorporate into an existing process. Couple that with the never-ending push to do more with less, and processes and systems start to become a Frankenstein’s monster of components and routines that fail to meet expectations and requirements.
Instead of being a boon, these processes are complex, labor-intensive endeavors that don’t provide the value they were intended to create.
What we need are processes that have a strong foundation yet remain flexible enough to accommodate these sources of uncertainty and complexity.
Many of you have most likely experienced a situation like this. I know I have. I want to walk through an example of one of those experiences and show you what I did, why I did it, and how I designed the process to both fit my current needs and have built-in flexibility and expansion capabilities to allow it to continue to be effective many business cycles later.
I inherited an SPC program that was used primarily for data retention and had been created about four years prior to my joining the company.
The team that had implemented the program were well intentioned, trained, and certainly qualified, but the program they designed was static; it accounted for everything that was happening at the time they implemented, but didn’t have the flexibility to account for new products, packages, or processing steps.
In the ensuing years between the initialization and my inheritance of it, the program remained static while the company evolved around it. What I got was a system with a base functionality, but also with seemingly random additions and permutations bolted onto that base. Compound that with turnover that gave me no opportunity to directly query the implementation team, and I was left feeling like I was a detective left to sort through clues and evidence to discern the events of the past.
Confronted with this scenario, and with the development of a new, different product I was responsible for incorporating into our SPC programs, I took action and worked to not just bolt another component onto the system, but to improve it using the “5S” method.
Like many Lean and Quality Control Managementprinciples, 5S started in Japan and was embraced by Toyota as part of their drive to improve manufacturing quality and efficiency.
The 5S principles are:
- Sort – Identify the tools required to perform work in the location
- Set – Place tools and items in their optimal locations
- Shine – Declutter and clean the space
- Standardize – Develop work instructions, resources, and expectations so the use of the workspace is consistent across the organization
- Sustain – Commit to continuing to maintain the location’s optimized configuration
By using these 5S principles, manufacturers would reorganize and improve workspaces, eliminating clutter, establishing a defined set of expectations for the workspace, and provide the resources to maintain the workspace in the new and improved configuration.
The origin of 5S is the individual workstation. A brake rotor assembly station on a production line or a testing and inspection area on the plant floor. In areas like these, especially when 24/7 manufacturing results in multiple operators sharing a workspace, the tendency for customization and clutter grows unchecked.
While the methodology started at the workstation level, the principles of 5S can be applied across an organization with the same resulting benefits.
With the principles of 5S, I got to work redeveloping and redeploying my company’s InfinityQS software implementation.
One of the key goals I had for my improvement project was to develop a naming convention that would accommodate all existing parts, processes, and tests, and also standardize them in a way that would allow for new items to be seamlessly added in the future. The other primary objective was to redesign the user interface to be consistent across all workstations and processes in the facility.
To accomplish my goals, I used a combination of tools, tips, and tricks, including a homegrown ‘program planner’ spreadsheet I designed, InfinityQS’ Database Manager, and a host of other ProFicient features and utilities. For more detailed information, and a copy of the spreadsheet, check out the webinar I did on the topic
Applying the 5S methodology in InfinityQS software couldn’t be easier. With built-in customization of toolbars, the use of templates for control charts, and easy-to-use import utilities, Sorting, Setting, Shining, Standardizing, and Sustaining are effortless!
The first thing I tackled in my project was naming conventions. Instead of a mixture of naming structures, I wanted to build a system that was intuitive and expandable. For things like finished products, I formalized a structure around the UPC, Product, Size, and Destination Country.
Where I originally found things like:
MEXICO Large Cheese Popcorn – NEW
96oz Popcorn, Buttered, Domestic 11710-208
I instead formalized them to:
11710 – Buttered Popcorn – 96oz – DOM
11718 – Cheese Popcorn – 96oz – MEX
Just a simple change like that made every subsequent change easier and more impactful.
And I didn’t stop with product naming. Process naming had become a word jumble as well. Words like cooking, popping, and heating had become interchangeable.
I picked one, named all related processes the same, and moved on to the next jumble.
With the part, process, and test naming conventions formalized, I was ready for the next step, rebuilding the relationships between them.
I made the decision to walk away from my old database and start from scratch. It was difficult, and full of uncertainty, but I will tell you that it was the right decision. There were only a few months during which I was working out of both the old and new databases; the benefits of starting fresh far outweighed the losses. I would recommend to anyone who needs a fresh start to seriously consider a new database and new project files, rather than fighting to shoehorn your redeployment into an existing system.
Using my program planner spreadsheet, I laid out all of the data entry configurations ‘on paper’ before we even opened ProFicient to start building. This allowed us to see all the steps at once and confirm that they truly matched our production processes and product tests exactly.
Once that was complete, it was time to build.
In the previous steps, the 5 S’s were certainly useful: the naming convention work was filled with Setting and Standardizing, and the program planner was all about Sorting and Shining. It was the actual creation of the new project files, though, where all 5 principles came together.
It was important to me that each of the projects I created (we ended up with 3 main ones) had a consistent look and feel to them. When you’re going for consistency, 5S is a great tool. Here are some of the key steps we took and their corresponding 5S principles:
- Sort – I took the time to select which types of control charts I wanted for each project. Some test results needed the standard X-bar & R pair of charts, but others only needed an IX, with no MR chart. Sorting out the extraneous charts allowed the remaining charts to be larger on the screen, making it easier to view the data. I also sorted the toolbar buttons, selecting a suite of buttons that operators used frequently, and eliminating those that were not necessary for our process.
- Set – In many ways, the pre-existing order of our process made it easy to set projects in order. Within the projects, the charts were set into the order in which we commonly referred to data. You probably have a similar situation at your facilities where you give product data in an unofficial, but predetermined order— Length-Width-Height, for example. Setting the charts into that order was a natural reflection of the culture of the company, so it made using the software seamless. Toolbar buttons were also set in order. On every project, the suite of toolbar buttons was in exactly the same order. Add Data was always furthest left, with a consistent progression through change part, change date, edit data, copy data, change user, and exit. Because every chart’s toolbar was the same, operators were comfortable entering data at every workstation and for every part, process, test combination.
- Shine – As mentioned in Sort, those items that were superfluous were simply eliminated or hidden from view. InfinityQS software allows you to show only the relevant pieces of a project, even to the degree that different user levels can see only the portions that are applicable to them.
- Standardize – Using templates for the control charts was the easiest way to standardize the look of the projects. Rather than taking the time to meticulously build each chart to your exact specifications, you can build the base model, create a template of it, and then each new chart is 90% complete as soon as you create it.
- Sustain – The last, and most difficult of the 5 S’s, I can’t really tell you how to sustain your SPC programs; it’s something you and your company’s culture have to commit to. What I can say is that if you follow the steps I’ve shown in this episode, you’ll be set up to sustain with minimal effort. No longer will it be an insurmountable task to add a new part or test. It will be easy, and if you’re like me, even a little bit fun.
I’m happy to say that all the hard work paid off. We saw improvements in our SPC programs across the board. From operator entry errors, to SPC alarm responses, and even to management involvement and interest in the program, we had succeeded in creating a program that was a perfect combination of ease of use and power.
We hope this episode of “Tales from the Trenches” has inspired you to apply 5S principles to your InfinityQS SPC software implementation.
InfinityQS is always there to help. We have application engineers ready to assist you in getting the most value out of your InfinityQS implementation. Reach out to your sales representative for information and pricing.
Thank you for watching and check back soon for our next episode of “Tales from the Trenches.”