Tag Archives: manufacturing quality

Simple Steps to Improve Production Quality

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

Every manufacturer struggles to improve quality during production.  Any level of defect is unacceptable, causing scrap, rework, missed ship dates, and lost profit.  Quality defects can cause a host of other problems more difficult to measure; including customer’s losing confidence in your product and frustration on the operations team.

While you may have a team working hard to improve quality assurance and quality control, manufacturers must be judicious in pursuing increased quality.  With any quality program, there are diminishing returns for the initiatives.  Adding more people to Quality Control, or creating additional checklists for production, will not always bring an acceptable return.

However, there are simple steps you can take to bring sustainable improvements in quality and provide a solid foundation for future initiatives.

A Closer Look at Manufacturing Quality

There are two distinct aspects to production quality.

Confidence Button Shows Assurance Belief And Boldness

Continuous sustainable quality improvement is only possible with a digital system. Illustration by www,colourbox.com

Quality assurance is usually defined as the management of the quality of parts, materials, tools, production engineering plans, production processes and all aspects of the work flow.  Quality assurance focuses on the proactive preparation for the release of orders, eliminating common sources of errors by guaranteeing inventory and tooling is available and creating of easily understood production instructions.  These are two critical elements to support an efficient production process.

The other aspect of production quality is Quality Control, commonly defined as the data collection measurements and inspections made during production to ensure products meet or exceeds specifications.  Quality control requires accurate measurements be taken during production, and a record made of all metrics in the engineering specifications.  By identifying and eliminating defects early, before they become more serious and costly, overall workflow and production performance is improved.

Simple Steps to Improve Production Quality

Manufacturers using paper to manage quality and production are creating an environment with a high risk of quality defects.  Paper simply cannot adequately support modern manufacturing, especially not as a tool in Quality Assurance and Quality Control.  Companies relying on paper will see limited improvement in manufacturing quality, but larger gains are impossible due to the fundamental flaws of using paper to manage production.  Build books filled with brief instructions and difficult-to-understand steps printed off a few hours earlier, and quality measurements hastily scribbled on sheets of paper do nothing to control or manage quality.

Continuous sustainable quality improvement starts by eliminating paper from the production process and transitioning to Paperless Manufacturing.  Consider these simple steps:

  • Convert the paper environment to a digital environment.

There’s no need to recreate your work instructions.  Move your existing, corrected instructions to a digital format that can quickly be accessed by engineering as they are planning.  The shop floor benefits with revision controlled, accurate work instructions and multimedia production assistance when needed.

  • Integrate production information from inventory management to shipping.

Incorporate all production documents and data in common records that can be accessed when and where they are needed.  Eliminate the struggle production has in finding information when they need it, by linking relevant data to each operation.

  • Use digital methods to assure and control quality at every step.

Automatically collect data and ensure specifications are met. Shorten the time a defect is identified and corrected with automatic tolerance and a closed loop disposition system.  Create proactive alerts for inventory shortage, machine issues, or bottlenecks.

Companies that have embraced paperless manufacturing have seen their production quality increase, often dramatically, by using readily-available technology to aid, manage and control the materials and process steps of the work flow.  Automating the process of collecting metrics and responding to defects at the point of occurrence isn’t difficult, and will improve quality and profitability.  Unlike systems that only target specific areas of the manufacturing value chain, paperless manufacturing provides a solid foundation to improving both Quality Assurance and Quality Control across the production workflow.

Contact CIMx Software to see how Paperless Manufacturing can improve quality for you.

Advertisements

The Importance of an MES to Optimizing Manufacturing Quality

Procedures and checks can only take your quality improvements so far. To maximize your quality, you need to design quality feedback loops.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

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.

MES and the Human Element

A sustainable solution to quality improvements requires feedback loops. Illustration from http://www.colourbox.com

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.

Want to learn more, or see what a quality program based on an MES can do for you? Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis to learn more.

Improving Quality with Paperless Manufacturing

As manufacturers struggle to reduce costs and improve production, more and more companies are turning to paperless manufacturing to improve quality.

By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software

As production grows increasingly more complex the Cost of Quality (COQ) is also increasing, with some companies reporting costs as high as 10% of revenue. The indirect and soft COQ may be even higher as you consider the non-value added time necessary to evaluate and address quality escapes.

When manufacturers consider initiatives to lower costs, quality is an emphasis. Modern MES and paperless manufacturing systems are delivering tremendous value to companies focused on improving quality.

MES and Quality Improvement

Quality.

A robust MES provides a solid foundation for improving quality. Illustration by http://www.colourbox.com

According to a white paper by Renaissance Services, the foundation of all quality escapes is the inability of the manufacturer to manage the details of production. The primary focus of paperless manufacturing and an MES is managing details through automation or providing the correct information at the right time and place in the production. Consider how paperless manufacturing addresses common sources of production errors:

  • Planning errors.

This could be the wrong plans or the wrong technical specifications. Many of these are paper-based errors, and occur when the wrong plans are used, or critical information is missing from the work packet. An MES will ensure the proper planning and revision control, and make accessible all the information the shop floor needs at any time.

  • Errors in approvals.

The approval process relies on communication and collaboration. Without a single source of manufacturing truth or a structure for communication and collaboration in the production process, errors occur during approval. Shortcuts are taken during approval, as the effort to coordinate the process increases. Improved quality relies on a disciplined approval process.

  • Missing documentation from the Technical Data Package (TDP).

Many times with paper-based planning, documentation is left out because it isn’t considered necessary. This is especially true of the TDP. Critical documentation from the first article inspections is ignored or buried to reduce complexity or to speed up production and get a product to market – leading to errors.

  • Ambiguity in the technical requirements.

Without automated quality checks during the production process, any ambiguity in specifications can lead to a critical quality error. For example, when a shop floor uses a paper spreadsheet to record production data, there’s no real time feedback loop on quality checks, and errors will occur. Quality assurance will find the error too late for corrective action.

  • Requirements that are overlooked in production.

This comes down to inadequate documentation and processes during production. Requirements are inadequately communicated to the shop floor, or aren’t accounted for in the planning. Without real time quality checks or a method of managing production, critical requirements are ignored until problems occur.

  • Changes in standard processes, especially special processes, in the production cycle.
Confidence Button Shows Assurance Belief And Boldness

Are you confident in your quality control plans? Illustration by www,colourbox.com

Process enforcement in an MES or paperless manufacturing system ensures the shortcuts that often creep into manufacturing process are eliminated by ensuring documentation is reviewed and work signed off before planning is released. Without process enforcement, the shop floor will rely on processes they know, not the correct processes.

  • Quality escapes that slip through inadequate first article inspections.

Often in paper-based or unstructured first article inspections, critical details can be lost, or there is an assumption on how work will be completed. This is especially true as the number of first article inspections increase at a site. Without adequate time, corners will be cut. With the automated records and audit reports created in an MES, critical details aren’t lost and are automatically recorded for future use, and the shop floor has more time to properly conduct a first article inspection.

 Smart Manufacturing and the Future of Production

As complexity has increased in production, and the tolerance for errors has decreased, manufacturers can no longer adequately manage the information and detail necessary using error-prone paper planning and inefficient processes. Manufacturers need a comprehensive system to manage production.

Manufacturing needs aren’t slowing down. The complexity and technical requirements of manufacturing are increasing. Consider Smart Manufacturing – the integrated technology and systems essential for advanced Smart Manufacturing require an MES to manage production. Excel spreadsheets and Word documents simply can’t manage complex manufacturing processes.

Want to learn more, or see how a shop floor software system can improve your shop floor? Contact CIMx today for a free shop floor analysis to learn more.