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We’re talking about the power (and weakness) of a single individual in your organization. This team member might be responsible for many things, but it seems that the entire process revolves around them. In some cases, they may be responsible for the schedule; these individuals are often running around all day trying to make things work and get jobs out the door on time. For other companies, this individual might be more focused on quality. Again, this is an area where you need an expert to make sure everything meets your quality standards.

Whatever area(s) this person is responsible for, it’s a critical “pinch point” for you. When they have the time and talent to perform at a high level, you are too. When they don’t, you aren’t. Think back to that story I shared last week. “Carol” was critical to the performance of that particular organization. She was their eyes, ears, and schedule. Without her, work did not stop, but it certainly did back up and there was all kinds of confusion without her.

One person can make or break a plan, a day, a project, a job.  Do you have a single person in your organization that serves in this role?

PRODUCTION OPERATIONS

You need to track quality metrics in your organization. Whether you make a million of one thing or have lots of orders with variable quantities, you need to know how you’re performing, and each of these has its own challenges. Let’s observe both from the outside.

I’m thinking of a manufacturer in the food industry. They would load a recipe and the machine would run several shifts before completion. One particular type of product (they had a large variety of items they made) would cross over from the day to night shift or the reverse. In many manufacturing facilities, temperature, humidity, dust and dirt, and other environmental factors directly affects the outcome of production. In many industries, the extensive cleaning processes they use between cycles still does not eliminate these concerns.

Once a job starts, you need to collect metrics so you know how it’s performing over time. For this manufacturer, it was important to get “eyes on” work during the second shift. Even from afar, they needed to know that the run was still on-target. For many of you with an after-hours shift change, there are real concerns around consistency of the product.

One metric that’s easy to track for many of you without a system is the number of quality issues you’ve had. You may even keep track of the number of each type. I’ve seen this on a blackboard, a whiteboard, on papers taped to the wall and a flat screen display with an Excel sheet. Can you, however, track those issues back to what you were doing when you had the issue to see if one process or job is causing these? Can you compare one job over time to another? This is where you start to get curative. You are finding causality that may help you to eliminate the issues in the future.

QUALITY CONTROL

Suppose you’re in an industry where you have the reverse: tons of orders, variable quantities and a high product mix. For you the challenges are a bit different, and just as complex. You have to track quality metrics for an ever-changing piece of work. The complexities around changeover from one job to the next, one team member to the next, just adds to your inability to know how you’re doing.

There’s also the middle ground here. We talk to manufacturers like you all the time. “We make the same thing all the time and every time it’s different.” For you, the type of things you’re making never differs, but every customer gets to choose very specific configurations of your product that make it almost like making custom parts. It’s difficult to get a rhythm going with high variability and ever more so when they look so similar.

Before we exit the quality metrics conversation, it’s important to note that you must measure the differences in the types of metrics you are tracking. A visual metric, whether it’s a measurement done by hand or a visual view of something that you have an inspector mark “good” or “not good,” there are standards that must be met and each person will have their own measures of what falls in what category. While I may think a scratch is merely cosmetic or passable, you may not. Metrics have to be a bit more stringent than a thumbs up.

What if you could provide your team with visual examples of good and bad, passable, and failing? Every metric you measure should be as neutral as possible – take the guesswork and the subjective nature of it out of the equation.

SOFTWARE FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT

A digital system is one way to do that. A system doesn’t have an opinion about what you’re measuring and doesn’t give people or events the “benefit of the doubt”. It reports openly, honestly, and without regard for what you expect. It’s completely free of bias, if it’s built the right way. Spreadsheets are one way to get there, but it’s still possible to weight something heavier or lighter depending on what outcome you’re trying for.

What if you applied a threshold to the work you were doing and tracked to it? We’ll talk more about that next week and, into the future, we’ll cover trends, plans and workarounds.

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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