Quality managers around the country are leading initiatives to increase efficiency and lower costs. Where are you at on your Quality journey?
In the last 30 years, the work output of the American manufacturing worker has doubled.
Quality managers around the country are leading initiatives to increase efficiency and lower costs. 70% of Quality professionals surveyed in 2014 said manufacturing efficiency was their top operational goal .
Where are you at on your Quality journey?
Here are 5 suggestions to help you on your way.
1. Tune in to the process.
So you have an incredible product. Customers love it; it has a sleek, attractive design; and it demonstrates fairly good quality in the field. But what about your production team? What do they think of your product? Really, what would their “customer feedback” be?
The way that your product evolves through your production track is directly related to your bottom line. Is it a pain to assemble? Does the raw material you’re using cause intermittent hang-ups with your machines or make it harder to interface parts? Is there something about your product’s shape that drives up appraisal time?
One producer reduced costs by 5% by switching to a less slippery fabric that was easier to handle by the production staff .
Tuning in to the process can open new avenues for cost-savings and spark design changes that minimize waste.
2. Do smart machine qualification.
Many manufacturers qualify equipment for a new operation at a Cpk value equal to the Cpk identified for the process. This, however, can lead to unfulfilled expectations down the line due to additional natural variation .
When qualifying a machine to put out your new product, use a target Cpk that is 33% higher than your target Cpk for the process (remember Cpk is based on specification limits). This gives you a good chance of seeing a process that performs at your minimal acceptable level.
- Avoid using raw material that is prepared specifically for the qualification
- If possible, do your qualification test with a machine that isn’t brand new to account for the long-term effect of wear and tear on your process’ capability
- Do not employ an untrained operator to run the machine being tested
3. Use an SPC software package with the capability to project cost savings.
SPC and SPC software accurately make the value-claim that they can reduce your manufacturing costs. But how many SPC cheerleaders and vendors can actually put a dollar amount to Quality improvements before they’re realized?
An SPC software package that delivers cost projections can help you to choose Quality initiatives that minimize the most waste. WinSPC by DataNet Quality Systems is an SPC software package that includes a cost savings projection tool.
4. Identify and chart your most critical product and process characteristics.
Pick out your products and processes that have the highest scrap, rework, and warranty costs. If you don’t have this data, think about the products that line workers or customers raise the most concerns about. Take special consideration for your most profitable or widely-used products, and those that consume an expensive raw material.
What are your major production problems? Brainstorm about which product characteristics are impacted by these issues. These are your “red flag” characteristics. When implementing SPC, measure your red flags first.
5. Get your hands dirty.
Make sure you’re spending time out on the shop floor. Those who work the line and run the machines can have a deep insight into production issues. Tap into their knowledge and give them an opportunity to impact the way things are done.
What are the common line hang-ups? Hang out with the line leader for a couple hours and see how things go. Take the time to try and understand line stoppages and causes of rework. In the end, you’ll have gathered valuable information and become a better leader and decision maker for it.
Now we’re on a roll…
These tips are just a start and surely you have your own insight from the experiences you’ve had throughout your career. Drop us a line below and tell us your best Quality story.
Hopefully the tools and ideas described here can help you on your journey in continued Quality success.
 Top 4 Challenges Quality Leaders Face and How They’re Solving Them. Paul Leavoy. 2014. www.qualitymag.com/articles/91870-top-4-challenges-quality-leaders-face-and-how-theyre-solving-them.
 Three Ways to Lower Your Manufacturing Costs. Liz Long. 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizlong/2017/09/26/three-ways-to-lower-your-manufacturing-costs/#42e6c9337d97.
 Process Capability Indices. Victor E. Cane. 1986. Available through Google Scholar.
Matthew Holden is a manufacturing quality journalist, and a digital marketing consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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.