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There are still diseases that modern medicine will fail to heal; those are, perhaps, the most scary and sad. Last weekend, I attended a fundraiser to support a woman with brain cancer. She and her family live in a small town and, even so, 300 people showed up at the farm to help, to attend and to donate.

I was full of emotions that weekend. Watching it all come together, I felt myself incredibly humbled. How do you measure the life of a person? Surely, the success of this event in the face of tragedy was directly determined by the work she and her family had done in a lifetime of service to their community. I was overcome, overwhelmed, humbled.

One person, just one person, can make all the difference in the world. One person can change a life. Can move things. Can make things possible. One person can change the outcome of so many. And here was evidence that she, just one person, had done that for so many.

Do you have a single person in your organization that operates like this?

PRODUCTION OPERATIONS

It was obvious the hole this woman was leaving. So many people depend on her; when she’s no longer able to help, the job falls to many others. The job that she was doing, solo. She was the lynchpin for so much that happened in that family and they all counted on her for so much. Perhaps that’s why the outpouring was so strong. Her “ripple effect” was so massive.

Often, we rely on someone that picks up all the slack. Someone that is so critical to the way things operate that it would take 3 other people to fill the gap. I remember walking around a plant many years back that was the clearest example of this for me. In all my years of doing this, I’ve seen almost every organization we work rely on a single individual for some specialty. This particular one just stuck with me.

The shop floor produced carbon parts that required hardening in an oven. Those ovens are expensive to run, larger than a single job, often, and work as what we refer to as a consolidated work center – an area where many jobs may come together and then split apart. As each part was produced, it was stacked with small colored spacers to separate it in the oven and provide enough air circulation to ensure thorough hardening. The team did not have a digital tool to help with production, so they used alternating colors to separate orders in the stacks before pushing them into the oven.

On the other side of hardening, those same stacks of parts were wheeled out to a central area to be separated, packed, and shipped. Paper travelers were taped to each stack, awaiting processing. Some of these had found their way to the floor. Some were dirty, some missing. It was an impossible mess. Looking down the aisle to the far side of the plant, a large area of shelving was fenced off and locked. Items for the materials review board to go through to see if they could still be sold / used.

QUALITY CONTROL

I asked the team about their process for getting all the stacks out to customers. They referenced a production team lead – I’ll call her Carol. I heard “Carol does that” more than once that day. Carol was a key team member. Also, a pinch point. I asked if Carol always had this much work to do. It really seemed like far more orders than one person could or should be handling. They quietly admitted that Carol was not in. I don’t remember if this was planned or not, but it was clear she had her work cut out for her on the return.

Quality suffers with a key employee. It has an absolute maximum and that is the highest level of work that this team member can do on any given day. That rate for humans changes with the day, their work level and how they showed up. Carol can only do so much. One person cannot manage all of your quality. Even a team struggles without the right tools and in no way can those tools be limited to their eyes. Quality is more than a visual inspection. It’s more than any one person can take care of for you.

SOFTWARE FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT

While I’m loath to say it, even a set of interlocking Google docs are better than just relying on a human. Any kind of system is better because it holds data and can remind you of trends that have been happening in your shop over time. We believe that use of a tool that manages quality for you, reminds you of the data you need to collect, and reports on it over time is critical. We want you to have a number of basic capabilities in the quality management software you choose.  We believe you need to:

  • Track quality metrics.
  • Set quality thresholds.
  • Give your team automated workarounds.
  • Notice quality trends, especially those that are bad. And,
  • Provide approved quality plans for those things that need them.

Compliance is more than an industry requirement. Sure, if you are in aerospace or medical device, pharma or food, there are industry settings you need to meet. But poor quality means that you are spending both more time and money than you have planned (and maybe have to spend), and we want to solve that problem with you, too.

These are the very challenges that we see shops deal with every day.  Give your team the tools they need to track your numbers, report on them, analyze and archive them.  Push the Connect button to learn about how we help teams with this.  Or, if you have a question, reach out to info@cimx.com.  We are here to help you save money, time and get your Production under Control

Contact CIMx Software to see how a Manufacturing Execution System can improve production control for you.

 

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