One Solution that Eliminates Errors on the Shop Floor

Eliminating errors, and saving money, on the shop floor is much easier than you might think.

I have a friend who tried for years to break a smoking habit. He finally decided to try hypno-therapy.  The therapist (hypnotist) promised to break the habit by “eliminating the desire for cigarettes.”  On the surface, this made perfect sense, but the reality was much more complex.  After therapy, he did stop smoking, but he ended up losing sleep and gaining weight, which, in his mind, was much worse than his smoking habit.

The quest to eliminate shop floor errors reminds me of the process my friend went through.  Smoking, like shop floor errors, can be very expensive, and often leads to bigger, much more expensive and dangerous, problems.  And many times if you aren’t careful, potential solutions lead to more problems than they solve.

Let’s look at five sources of error on the shop floor and potential solutions:

  • Machine wear and variance

Well-managed, diligent maintenance and repair procedures help reduce and mitigate machine wear and variance.

  • Parts error

Careful quality assurance and an integrated supply chain minimize these errors.

  • Poor decisions

This is potentially a huge problem for the shop floor.  When production decisions are made without enough information, or with outdated information, then errors occur.  Real-time access to information (making sure the right information is in the right place at the right time) will improve the quality of decisions and eliminate guess-work from production decision-making.

  • Human error

These errors can be traced to a disconnect between work instructions and shop worker action.  If the shop floor has access to the correct information when and where they need it, and are supported by a robust procedural enforcement system, human errors will be minimized.

  • Paper errors

A shocking number of errors can be attributed to paper records. Relying on data collection on paper, or shuffling paper back and forth, can hold a modern shop floor back from potential and profit. Out-of-date work instructions, missing instructions, missing data collection, misinterpreted data are all symptoms of these errors.

Are shop floor errors holding you back from success? Photo: www.colourbox.com

Are shop floor errors holding you back from success? Photo: www.colourbox.com

The danger in tackling a single error source is the effect it might have on other error sources.  For example, adding more procedures to your process may help minimize human error on the shop floor, but it might also create more paper errors and lead to more poor production decisions.  It is not enough to focus on one source of errors, you need an integrated solution.

The key to eliminating most errors on the shop floor is getting the right information to the right people when and where they need it, and a paperless manufacturing system is designed to do just that.

For example, integrating your suppliers with your shop floor, including the QA process, and your procurement system, helps eliminate faulty parts from suppliers.

Procedural enforcement is a standard feature in some manufacturing software solutions, and can seamlessly help eliminate human error and improve shop floor data collection.

Revision control with a paperless manufacturing system will eliminate paper errors on the shop floor and ensure records aren’t lost or destroyed. Combined with automatic accurate as-built records, it will streamline your audit process.

Integrating the machine maintenance records and documents with your paperless manufacturing system will help ensure diligence in maintenance and repair.

Eliminating shop floor errors seems like an impossible task, but it is one that will improve production, help eliminate frustration, save money, increase profit, and lead to even bigger process improvements.  Unfortunately, like hypno-therapy, the wrong solution often leads to more problems than they solve.  A paperless manufacturing system will do much to eliminate errors on the shop floor

And you might be pleasantly surprised by how quickly paperless manufacturing can be implemented, with a smaller budget than you might imagine. With advances in technology and software solutions, it is possible to implement a paperless manufacturing system in less than 30 days for surprisingly little cost.

What recurring sources of error are you facing on your shop floor?  What solutions have you implemented?  Have you come to the conclusion there is a level of error you find acceptable?  Let us know!  And if you are interested in learning more about how a simple-to-implement software system can help eliminate the source of most errors on your shop floor, contact us for more information.

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