August 1, 2013
To provide executives and other leaders value, the data delivered to them has to be relevant and actionable.
Statistical process control (SPC) is traditionally known as a tool that delivers intelligence to operators and supervisors, providing them with the capability to make real-time decisions at the machine or asset level based on process performance. Over the past several years a new trend has emerged where SPC is being used as an enterprise-wide data collection, analysis, and intelligence solution that can enable improved decision making across sites at the executive level.
However, many users of SPC software have not yet taken the leap to deploy SPC as an enterprise-level data collection and analytics platform. Below, I’ll discuss several steps for making shop floor data valuable for the C-suite, as well as the role SPC can play in achieving this.
Turning Shop Floor Data into Enterprise Intelligence
To provide executives and other leaders value, the data delivered to them has to be relevant and actionable. At a high level, this can be achieved in three steps:
- Go enterprise-wide: Collect a standardized set of data from both in-house and contract manufacturing facilities with SPC.
- Show dollars and cents: Integrate SPC with ERP to quantify production variances (scrap rate, rework, etc.).
- Make it consumable: Use analytics as well as ERP integration tools on top of aggregate data collection capabilities already in place to facilitate filtering results by product, facility, supplier, customer, and so on. These solutions are typically included in today’s SPC software.
Finding Value in a Sea of Process Control Data
Once you’ve standardized and quantified SPC data across the enterprise, executives might be interested in what you’re doing. But when reporting and analytics tools come into play, they’ll be awaiting your next report. With an analytics layer on top of the massive amounts of SPC data, you’ll be able to show value in the following ways:
- Identify profitable business decisions: After quantifying the cost of production variances, analyze the profitability of your products and production lines to find what’s working and what needs to be improved. This intelligence can also provide considerable value to the new product introduction process.
- Gain more control over contract manufacturers/suppliers: Typically carried out over the web, many market leaders now have a portal for contract manufacturers and suppliers to share SPC information. This provides a better picture of how external production capabilities are impacting performance.
Enabling an Environment for Continuous Improvement
Although SPC has a number of tools that can be taken advantage of to analyze and improve performance, the foundation of the value delivered is largely dependent on how the software is used. Often, when an executive takes interest in shop floor data, that simple element of accountability inspires operators and supervisors to improve their own personal performance. This can be extended to external partners as well.
It’s typically the incremental and continuous gains that make up long-term improvements to business performance. When an executive takes a more active and public interest in SPC data and improving shop floor visibility, the value that can be delivered by the solution only increases over time. Making shop floor data relevant to them is the first step to enabling a long-running cycle of continuous improvement.
by Matthew Littlefield