October 10, 2006
Arkwright, Inc., one of the largest suppliers of wide format media for digital printing, reported that it used WinSPC to improve productivity by 224 hours per month.
“WinSPC has proven to be effective & efficient. When investigating the amount of time spent reviewing data using our old system, compared to WinSPC, we were astonished. WinSPC’s graphical interface & ease of use resulted not only in improved process & product quality, but in man-hour time savings. This has been a critical step in the continuation of Arkwright’s Six Sigma project management initiatives & the company’s commitment to quality.”
Arkwright, Inc. is a digital media paper and film manufacturer headquartered in Coventry, RI. Arkwright employs over 300 people, operates four manufacturing facilities and 10 distribution centers, and is one of the largest suppliers of wide format media for digital printing.
As an outgrowth of its corporate-wide Six Sigma program to continuously improve product and process quality, Arkwright installed WinSPC software to perform real-time SPC at its facilities in Guilford, CT and Coventry, RI.
- Increase product & process quality
- Increase manufacturing productivity
- Reduce waste
Implementation & Results
The two-facility, 30-day Arkwright implementation resulted in an eventual full ROI in two months’ time. Arkwright determined that, in its first two weeks of using WinSPC, it was able to eliminate an estimated 52 personnel-hours per week and began to reduce its product waste and hold materials by 10 to 15 percent. Additionally, the company reported that within four months it moved from a reactive to preventative quality control model and expanded its SPC/Quality control procedures and reporting capabilities.
“Now, we look at our data to understand what could happen, rather than what has happened,” said Shannon Tiso, a quality control manager at Arkwright’s Guilford, CT facility and the project lead for the SPC software implementation. “Real-time SPC gives me the ability to quickly produce performance, shift, and incoming material reports. It used to take nearly a day’s worth of time to produce only half that information. It takes literally moments using WinSPC.”
The quality control department in Guilford, CT performs up to 20 various sample tests on its products, including tests for pH, viscosity, solids, smoothness, gloss, and haze. If test data falls outside control limits, WinSPC visually alerts the quality control technician and forwards the questionable data to an appropriate product engineer. Additionally, WinSPC stores notations of assigned Non-Conforming Material Reports and other pertinent notations, such as product waivers, engineering requests, and more. Arkwright reports these features are critical to improve shift communications and detect quality issues earlier in the process. As a result, the quality team estimates it reduced the company’s waste and hold materials by 10 to 15 percent since it installed WinSPC. Arkwright plans to expand the SPC program to shop-floor processes, where it will measure machine performance, temperatures, line speed, weights, and more.
Although it wasn’t included in the company’s productivity metrics, real-time SPC saves time for both quality control and engineering personnel. Previously, to perform statistical analyses the quality/engineering team had to extract data from its legacy SPC tool and import it into Excel. Then the team imported the data from Excel into its statistical analysis software. Since the WinSPC implementation, “What used to take three days takes one afternoon,” said Monica Whelan, an Arkwright process engineers who is responsible for interpreting and reporting product quality data.
The business case for obtaining WinSPC began during a Six Sigma Green Belt project to improve process quality and productivity. During the project, Tiso identified five charts/reports she would need to review each day to achieve her productivity and quality goals. She calculated that it would take up to 11.25 personnel-hours per day to produce the necessary data using Arkwright’s current SPC process. Based on those productivity hours she developed the business case and Return-On-Investment (ROI) schedule for a new SPC software solution. According to her computation, the cost of the software was recovered within two months time of implementation.
Tiso and representatives from the company’s Engineering and IS/IT groups led the project for evaluating and implementing the real-time SPC solution. A survey was sent to all Arkwright personnel involved in the quality and engineering processes in an effort to accurately define the software requirements. The majority of the responses were surprisingly similar, indicating that the solution:
- Must be easy to operate so that non-technical personnel could take administrative ownership
- Must be real-time
- Must offer monitoring, alerting, charting, analysis and reporting
- Must fit the company’s IT guidelines for central administration/maintenance, security, and scalability
The decision-making committee was made up of a quality control manager, a process engineer, and an IT manager. After evaluating three SPC software packages, Arkwright chose WinSPC for its ease-of-use, ease-of-administration, and ease-of-maintenance. The second decision-making factor was WinSPC’s breadth and depth of capabilities surrounding data collection, real-time control, monitoring, analysis, and reporting.
“We implemented WinSPC’cold-turkey’ into our production environment in Guilford within 30 days of the purchase order,” said Tiso. “We configured our parts beforehand using the trial version. Once the licensed version was delivered, installed, and configured we imported the parts we had created. It was easy enough to use that we were able to begin without formal training.”
- Reduced product waste and hold materials by 10-15%
- Improved productivity by 224 hours per month
- Expanded SPC capabilities by 50%
About DataNet Quality Systems
DataNet Quality Systems empowers manufacturers to improve products, processes, and profitability through real-time statistical software solutions. The company’s vision is to deliver trusted and capable technology solutions that allow manufacturers to create the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost. DataNet’s flagship product, WinSPC, provides statistical decision-making at the point of production and delivers real-time, actionable information to where it is needed most. With over 2500 customers worldwide and distributors across the globe, DataNet is dedicated to delivering a high level of customer service and support, shop-floor expertise, and training in the areas of Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing services.