Quality Re-Imagined blog series Part 1: Transform Quality—and Your Business—with the Excellence Loop

Douglas C. Fair
By Douglas C. Fair | September 13, 2019
Chief Operating Officer

Fact checked by Stephen O'Reilly

Welcome to the Quality Re-Imagined blog series. In the next three blogs, we’ll discuss manufacturing quality from a unique perspective. We’ll delve into how it is currently perceived, how and why you should change that perception, and what a change in quality “attitude” buys you—continuous improvement.
The process of re-imagining quality creates a cycle of continuous improvement—something that we enterprise-quality experts at InfinityQS call the Excellence Loop. “What is the Excellence Loop?” you’re asking. Well, it encompasses a lot of ideas and new ways of looking at and dealing with quality, which I hope we can explain in this short blog series. But it is the essence of what we do here at InfinityQS, so I thought it only fitting that we start this series with it.

Excellence Loop
The Excellence Loop begins with unification of your quality data—the collection and storage of all quality data in one place. Making all plants’ quality data accessible in a single area provides enterprise-wide visibility, enabling you to assess quality performance for every region, every operation, and every product in your company. With this Hubble-like visibility, you gain true operational insight that can fuel high-level, prioritized improvement of product quality and spark some exciting, proactive, strategic decision making. With access to this level of information, companies gain the ability to globally transform their business through process improvements, cost reductions, and better resource utilization.
Let’s start with a closer look at visibility.

Excellence Loop - Enterprise Visibility

Enterprise Visibility

When you unify all your quality data, from all sources, into a standardized and centralized database, you can visualize more than the quality of a single product. You get real-time visibility into your entire enterprise, from end to end—including suppliers, incoming inspection, raw materials, in-process checks from shop floor operators and the quality lab, process data, packaging, and finished products.
Historically, organizations would manually collect data and store it at the local facility. Quality systems were put in place to enable quality folks to put out daily “fires” and fix problems that pop up. After the problem was fixed, the data received very little attention and was typically not used for strategic improvement purposes.
But today, we have the ability to collect data from any device and store it centrally. This capability gives us access to incredibly precise, rich data from across all our lines and plants. In addition to pointing to problems that need to be fixed at both local and enterprise levels, that data can also open our eyes to the greatest opportunities to streamline processes, reduce costs and safety risks, increase yield, improve precision, and more.
Fill Line
For example, in the food and beverage or pharmaceuticals industries, filling containers with a highly accurate amount of product is critical. Regulatory and economic concerns mandate how much product must be in each package. Underfilling results in regulatory issues (and dissatisfied customers), whereas overfilling equates with lost profit (“giveaway”). A quality system that provides “manufacturing intelligence” gives you both real-time and historic visibility into all your filling lines so that you can easily determine which lines present regulatory concerns, as well as which lines are giving away the most product.
This same principle of understanding and reducing variation applies to every industry. Gaining visibility into all your quality data—and being able to access all that data from one location—enables aggregation and analysis that you can use to improve your product quality and your profitability.

Unification of Data

Quality Re-ImaginedNote that data unification is the primary contributing factor regarding enterprise visibility. Technology has advanced to the point that there exists no viable reason to store quality data at the plant level or in silos . When your data is stored in such a fragmented way, you only get a micro view: What’s in front of you here, today. InfinityQS quality management solutions aggregate data to deliver the long-term, large-scale view that pushes your decision making and improvements to the next level.

Operational Insight

You need to know which production lines or sites run your products consistently and at the highest quality levels. You also want to know which have the most issues or cause the most headaches. You need to know where to focus your improvement efforts to get the biggest gains. It would be great to know what defects are affecting your products, which products are at the highest risk, and where these products are produced. Or whether the third shift is performing as well as the first and second shifts. And, perhaps most important: You’d like to have the data to back up any and all of your conclusions.
Excellence Loop - Operational Insight
With visibility into your supply chain and production line increased—that is, all your data unified and easy to access—you can generate useful and actionable insight into your processes, suppliers, and manufacturing operations. Proven, robust analytics and reporting enable you to then begin to apply best practices consistently across all your plants, lines, processes, and products.
InfinityQS quality management software systems feature a top-notch analytics engine and intuitive reporting options to sort through to the most important points and to make your data more easily consumed and understood. The answers to your biggest questions and concerns are suddenly at your fingertips, rather than buried in a sea of data.

Insights in Action

When looking at an organization with many sites, an important first step is to understand which sites, if any, require assistance. Can you get that information quickly? Better still, can you identify which specific processes at those sites are to blame? You can—if you’re using an InfinityQS quality management solution, which supports strategic operational insight.
Quality Checks
Depending on the severity of the type of event, you may prioritize sending more resources to one site or sending different resources to address the specific issues. Visibility into data is often not enough; putting it in the context of your operations allows you to make sense of the data and formulate the best actions to take.
Note that a major aspect of successful analytics and reporting is ease of use. InfinityQS quality management solutions are easy-to-configure, flexible, and offer targeted reports. You don’t need a statistician to interpret them—your shop floor operators, engineers, and managers will understand them just fine.
Our solutions also make data more readily available so that you can get immediate information, enabling you to see variations from part to part, shift to shift, day to day, month to month, and so on.

A Reporting Bonanza

Processes are dynamic and have natural variations. By studying them across time, you can determine vital information, such as which processes or practices provide the best efficiency. And these evaluations needn’t be a complex undertaking. Now that your data is unified, you can have access to data across the globe that is accessible in real time.
Quality Reports 
Beyond the gains in responsiveness, think about the hours of labor that these capabilities can save—hours that can be spent improving your processes and products.

This level of insight opens up a new realm of possibilities for your company. You’re no longer stuck in reactive mode, putting out fires as problems crop up. You’re using your quality data to plan ahead, perform better—and outpace the competition. That is, quality data can be used for strategic improvement, not just reactive fire-fighting.

Global Transformation

And now comes true, global transformation for your business. You have the capability to apply your insights to streamline, optimize, and transform processes and operations, across the enterprise. Unified, aggregated, historical insights initiate continuous improvement.
Excellence Loop - Global Transformation
You can now tell that a particular line runs better than others at the same facility. In addition, you can determine why, and better yet, how to make other lines in other locations consistent with that level of performance. You see which factors matter, and which don’t. You begin to streamline all your processes. Consistency and efficiency increase throughout and across production sites. You get hard data that verifies results and enforces accountability.
You no longer only think about what you did yesterday, but about what you can do tomorrow or next year. And you begin to see real, measurable benefits to your bottom line.

The Excellence Loop – A Brief Recap

So, there it is: The Excellence Loop and all it can do for you and your operations. It begins with unification of your quality data, which provides enterprise-wide visibility into every operation and product. With this increased visibility, you gain true operational insight that can fuel improved product quality and spark proactive, strategic decision making. You gain the ability to globally transform your business through process improvements, cost reductions, and better resource utilization.
Excellence Loop
Please read the other 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.

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