Operations Article

Steve Wise’s picture

By: Steve Wise

The importance of data analysis in manufacturing operations can’t be overstated. Over the years, manufacturers have used statistical process control (SPC) methods and tools to study historical data and reveal differences between comparable items: shifts, products, machines, processes, plants, lot codes, and more.

The foundational benefit of statistical methods is predicting future behavior from historical data. That’s why control charts, box-and-whisker plots, Pareto charts, and the like are so valuable: They indicate that if processes are not changed, then performance (positive or negative) will continue as it is.

Control charts are brilliant tools for assessing performance over time, and their related “control limits” are predictions of normal future behavior. The problem is that many SPC software products struggle to move beyond just data collection to offer truly insightful data analysis.

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

Before we get into a case study about how enterprisewide SPC software would work on both the shop floor and the C-suite, let’s talk about a long-held bias about “blue-collar” workers: That because they’ve traditionally been associated with manual labor, they should use manual tools; “white-collar” front-office workers, on the other hand, need the slick technology tools.

Imagine walking around the offices of a large manufacturing organization and finding salespeople managing customers’ information using a Rolodex. In a planning meeting, the CEO is using acetates on an overhead projector. In the procurement office, staff are issuing purchase orders using a Telex machine.

Now imagine walking the plant floor at that same manufacturer. The production supervisor is writing machine settings for the next shift on a board next to the machine. The quality engineer is writing the results of a critical quality check on a clipboard with a blunt pencil. A bunch of people stand around murmuring, scratching their heads, and wondering why a machine isn’t working properly.

In the first example, you might think you’d traveled back in time. The scenes are absurd. But the second example is a common reality.

Multiple Authors
By: Ryan E. Day, Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest, Taran March @ Quality Digest

In order to best illustrate how enterprisewide SPC software can help address shop-floor problems and then funnel the captured data to the corporate level where strategic issues can be analyzed, here is a case study of a hypothetical manufacturing facility. In it, the company makes effective use of SPC for data-driven decisions.

A global food products manufacturing company with 11 sites worldwide had chosen to master quality, both tactically and strategically, as its top goal. Each site collected and analysed data in the company’s enterprisewide SPC software, both to monitor and respond to quality issues at the site, and to share those same data with the corporate office.

At the company’s Prague site, the quality manager looked at her shop-floor data for the previous month. As figure 1 indicates, the software reported a total of 737 events, which at first glance seemed like a big deal to the manager. However, on closer inspection, she could see that these weren’t massive quality issues with the product or processes. However, there were 517 missed data checks. Although not a line-stopping issue, missed checks could result in noncompliance to agreements with customers or industry requirements.

Eric Weisbrod’s picture

By: Eric Weisbrod

In recent months, we’ve learned that manufacturing during a global health crisis puts organizations under immense pressure to maintain operational efficiency while upholding product quality and employee safety.

Initially, organizations focused simply on taking the steps required to survive. However, as organizations around the globe have pivoted to overcome those initial challenges, manufacturers are taking the opportunity to explore how they will not just survive but become more resilient—even thrive—going forward.

Recent operational challenges have shined a light on existing process weaknesses and technology limitations. Manufacturers are taking their cue and proactively identifying opportunities to optimize processes, empower workers, and make operations across the organization more effective.

Enact, InfinityQS’ cloud-native quality intelligence platform, offers plant leadership a variety of ways to make their operations more effective. Here are six Enact benefits that can help your organization make critical shifts that are necessary for the future of manufacturing.

Jon Speer’s picture

By: Jon Speer

Risk can mean many different things depending on the situation. Flying on an airplane, biking on a busy road, driving in a car—all of these involve some level of risk.

Although risk is a variable we encounter in everyday life, it means something uniquely different to the medical device industry. Risk is a critical factor to consider throughout the life cycle of a medical device because it can mean the difference between life and death for patients.

Industry resources like ISO 14971 exist to help medical device professionals define and clarify risk management best practices. According to the internationally recognized standard for medical device risk management, risk is defined as “the combination of the probability of occurrence of harm and the severity of harm.”

There are varying levels of risk factors medical device companies must consider in practicing effective risk management. By following the established processes outlined in ISO 14971 and leveraging the best quality management tools, medical device companies can improve their overall risk management system.

[Read More]

Sébastien Breteau’s picture

By: Sébastien Breteau

In recent months, the widespread lockdowns of Covid-19 have exposed global supply chains to unprecedented shifts and volatility in consumer behavior, impacting innumerable organizations, industries, and consumer goods. While much of the supply-chain overhaul conversation has focused on drops in demand and disruptions in business across various consumer categories, delivering on sharply rising demands for medical equipment has been particularly challenging for companies in the healthcare manufacturing space.

Up against a supply chain landscape paralyzed by lockdowns and factory closures, personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary for combating the virus and protecting the lives and livelihoods of essential workers may be at critical risk for quality erosion as companies race to speed up production, according to inspection data from QIMA, a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions. And with Covid-19 deepening supply-chain diversification activity—which was already happening prior to the pandemic thanks to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war—it is expected that global brands will face quality risks for some time to come across all consumer product categories.

[Read More]

Multiple Authors
By: Sridhar Kota, Glenn Daehn

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed glaring deficiencies in the U.S. manufacturing sector’s ability to provide necessary products—especially amidst a crisis. It’s been five months since the nation declared a national emergency, yet shortages of test kit components, pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and other critical medical supplies persist.

Globalization is at the heart of the problem. With heavy reliance on global supply chains and foreign producers, the pandemic has interrupted shipping of parts and materials to nearly 75 percent of U.S. companies.

[Read More]

LauraLee Rose’s picture

By: LauraLee Rose

The reality for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) is that they are going to have to be good at training their workforce or they won’t make as much money. That’s a blunt assessment, but the need for proficiency in training will only increase, whether it’s retraining current employees for new products, processes, and equipment or getting new employees up to speed more quickly. Effective training should be able to drive down the time for training.

[Read More]

Jennifer Mallow’s picture

By: Jennifer Mallow

Covid-19 has led to a boom in telehealth, with some healthcare facilities seeing an increase in its use by as much as 8,000 percent. This shift happened quickly and unexpectedly, and has left many people asking whether telehealth is really as good as in-person care.

During the last decade, I’ve studied telehealth as a Ph.D. researcher while using it as a registered nurse and advanced-practice nurse. Telehealth involves the use of phone, video, internet, and technology to perform healthcare, and when done right, it can be just as effective as in-person healthcare. But as many patients and healthcare professionals switch to telehealth for the first time, there will inevitably be a learning curve as people adapt to this new system.

[Read More]

Jennifer V. Miller’s picture

By: Jennifer V. Miller

There’s no shortage of important work to do—both at home and in your job. So, the last thing you want tossed your way is unnecessary work. Nobody likes needless activity, right?

But this is easier said than avoided. I’m sure you can easily recall getting pulled into something that did not add value—at least not in your opinion.

From a workplace perspective, here’s where I think part of the problem lies.

The past couple of decades have seen the rise of “The Group” e.g., self-directed work teams, participative decision-making. These work formations and processes definitely have many benefits; they also have drawbacks. In my observation, one unfortunate byproduct of group interaction is that needless activity gets added in the name of innovation and collaboration.

Add to that dynamic Americans’ love affair with taking action, and you have a recipe for nonvalue-added work.

The “people equation” looks like this:

Inclusiveness + Compulsion to act = Making things more complicated

For example, consider the story of Clarice and Sebastian, two department leaders at a large multinational corporation. Once a month, Clarice and Sebastian participate in a 15-person global conference call for their division. As Clarice gives her update, Sebastian offers a suggestion.

[Read More]

Syndicate content