MANUFACTURING BLOG

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meditations on manufacturing written by our team of industry insiders
By David Oeters • January 27, 2015

5 Easy Shop Floor Quality Improvements You Can Make with Paperless Manufacturing

Sustainable quality improvements aren’t made with a committee or additional processes, but by giving your team the tools they need to succeed.

Quality is a critical component in manufacturing success. Poor quality leads to lost customers, rework, scrap, and vanished production – its wasted money and opportunity, and a clear sign of a shop floor with serious problems.  According to a study by Gerald Lee of ABB, poor quality can lead to significant losses, known as COPQ (Cost of Poor Quality). Even the “hidden” costs of poor quality – additional paperwork, large lot sizes, and excessive auditing – lead to losses as large of 15% of total revenue.

Improving quality is a critical goal for manufacturing. Many see improved quality as the metric that has the greatest impact on profitability, even more than productivity – which is why companies contort themselves, their shop floor, and the workflow to eke out every last bit of quality improvement. Many times, this leads to improvements, but only temporary improvement.  Truth is, no initiative will have the immediate or profound impact on quality improvement that an MES or paperless manufacturing system does because the system offers the shop floor tools to improve quality, and provides a sustainable foundation for process improvement.

Consider these benefits you’ll have almost immediately with a shop floor system:

  • Process enforcement

Quality is dependent on sustainable processes. With an MES you can build best practices and quality processes directly into the planning, and utilize sign-off and shop floor data collection to ensure these processes are used throughout production.

  • Automatic tolerance checks

Many times, poor quality is discovered late in the process when corrective action is costly. With shop floor data collection and automatic tolerance checks, the QA team is aware of a problem the moment it happens, and can limit the expense of quality escapes.

  • Revision control

Change is a way of life on the modern shop floor. With a paperless manufacturing system, you can build a library of revision-controlled work instructions. This ensures the plans your shop floor works from are correct and include best practices, data collection and quality checks.

  • Visual work instructions

One of the best tools you have for improved quality is the shop floor worker, so help them build to specification. Highlight critical areas of the manufacturing process with graphics such as attachment points or tooling. Visual work instructions improve retention of instructions by as much as 80% over written work instructions.

  • Real-time, mobile access to quality data

QA on the shop floor can monitor only a fraction of production, and forcing them to track down and discover problems can lead to long delays that will shut down production. A modern MES will give Quality anytime and anywhere access to production data, including quality checks. They can then handle the disposition remotely, or even manage the process on-site as they need.

Improve Quality Today with Paperless Manufacturing

A paperless manufacturing system, when integrated successfully with shop floor processes, will have an immediate and beneficial impact on quality. Once you begin to collect production data on the shop floor, and can analyze that data in real-time, you will discover quality escapes before they become major issues that negatively impact your bottom line. Automatic tolerance checks and process enforcement are easy functions to add with manufacturing software.

Next time you consider how to improve quality or reduce manufacturing costs, take a moment to analyze the ways a modern, low-risk software system can benefit you. Want to know more, or see what manufacturing solutions you can find in a system today? Then contact CIMx for a free shop floor review.