Procedures and checks can only take your quality improvements so far.
To maximize your quality, you need to design quality feedback loops.
Manufacturing companies are continually pursuing quality improvements, and with good reason. Improved quality not only increases productivity and profit as non-conformances and scrap are reduced, ensuring the shop floor is focused on product that ships, but also aids in sales. Consumers buying a product don’t care about productivity and efficiency; they care about value and quality - manufacturing quality.
Many manufacturers are wasting resources and effort on quality initiatives with limited benefit, relying on quality procedures and checks to catch quality escapes and eliminate them in the future – efforts that never achieve the expected results.
Trying to use paper processes or even a separate QMS (Quality Management System) or other system is the problem. The manufacturer may not be collecting the right information, can’t enforce quality initiatives on the shop floor, can’t identify where or why the quality escape occurs, and is finding the problem too late for corrective action. Without a system to address the total manufacturing value chain, there can be no cohesive solution to improving quality.
The Benefit of an MES to Quality
An MES or paperless manufacturing system creates an integrated system for managing the production process. It’s a single source for shop floor visibility and control, transmitting and managing information along the manufacturing value chain.
According to Jamie Finchbaugh, Lean Advisor and Speaker, quality initiatives require feedback loops between the consumer, the design team, and operations, with production information getting to the right people at the right time to positively impact Quality. From Finchbaugh’s article in IndustryWeek magazine, Is Quality a Result or a System, “Since quality is dynamic, we cannot just design it out of the system; we have to effectively react to it. Your feedback, and feed-forward, loops must be designed to be visible, relevant and timely.”
An effective MES allows you to design and re-design your quality feedback loops to optimize your quality. It acts as a single source of manufacturing information, providing real-time information anywhere and anytime, as well as the process enforcement and shop floor control necessary to close the feedback loop. Paper processes and disconnected software systems will never offer this level of control or sustainability.
Consider this – an MES can provide automatic tolerance checks for the data collected, so an operator immediately discovers a problem. If it falls within a certain range, a disposition plan is automatically sent to the operator to manage the non-conformance. Quality is informed, and can provide sign-off on the solution if necessary, but the feedback loop provides a solution to the people best positioned to manage the problem. In the future, process enforcement ensures the shop floor makes the necessary adjustments to improve quality.
No other tool can directly address the feedback loop like an MES.
No other tool provides the capability of an MES to improve quality.
Companies still relying on paper are forced to create another procedure, quality check or dated report to somehow eke out a slight quality improvement. Customers are demanding more of manufacturers, and dated methods will no longer deliver the expected results.