Reducing Waste in Manufacturing: Pinpoint In-Spec Quality Data
Eliminating even minimal overfill and waste can add up to big monetary savings.
Years ago, InfinityQS worked with a beverage manufacturer who wanted to reduce costs but didn’t know how because all their processes were already running in-spec. Focusing on one line, we revealed that although everything was within their specification limits, they were still overfilling every bottle…and the liquid they were putting in those bottles was not cheap.
When we looked closer at the data they gathered, we identified information about discrepancies in fill-head performance, product-to-product differences, the effect of speed on filling, and other information they never had. As a result, they were able to make a variety of improvements (some big, some small), which ended up saving them over a million dollars per year—on just that one line.
Extrapolate that over the 20+ lines at their plant, and you can see that the savings are astronomical.
No new technology was purchased. No new equipment was installed. There was no investment in a new production line or new technology. Instead, the million-dollar cost improvements were simply the result of acting on the insights and information that were generated from their filling data and aggregated in their Quality Intelligence software solution.
Look at More Than Out-of-Spec Data
Across all levels in manufacturing, when we look for quality improvement, we tend to focus only on out-of-spec data and the activities needed to deal with those problems. Companies tend to ignore data that indicate the product is in-spec.
The attitude seems to be, “Why even look at it if it’s good?” The reason is simple: When companies ignore in-spec data, they miss fundamental information that can help transform organizational performance and the bottom line.
Only about 15% of the benefit of statistical process control (SPC) data is out on the shop floor. Process control, tweaking, troubleshooting, prevention of problems, and efficiency improvements—your operators use SPC data every day to do this important work.
However, most organizations are not looking at the remaining 85% or so of their data. Those are the in-spec data that haven’t indicated the presence of problems. Unless data indicate a quality problem, they are ignored. Data within specification limits are just saved to the database and rarely (if ever) viewed again for improvement purposes.
Too much time is spent dealing with quality problems, rather than determining how they can be prevented. And that’s understandable; when your quality professionals spend their energy, focus, and resources on constantly fighting fires that occur every day on the shop floor, they don’t have time to look at anything else.
Constantly putting out the quality fires is exhausting, necessary, and valuable—but it tends to take time away from big-picture cost containment and quality improvement activities that can have a positive impact on your business operations…and your bottom line.
Investing in a Solution for Quality Improvement
When manufacturing companies invest in a solution to improve quality on their production lines (and in the rest of the operation), their expectation is some sort of growth. And it should be. Companies want to prevent quality problems from happening and refine and improve processes, thus improving their bottom line and further solidifying their brand reputation.
Investing in quality control measures is much more than just a necessary evil, or another expense. Moving to an SPC-based Quality Intelligence solution is an investment in the future.
When you hire quality control experts and put a quality system in place at your company, you are doing so much more than incurring additional costs. You are making it possible to generate great benefits and significant returns on your quality dollars.
Your Investment Should Help You See the Big Picture
Data aggregation—rolling up data into a central database for analysis—enables you to see comprehensive information from across your manufacturing enterprise and uncover where the greatest opportunities exist for reducing waste, reducing costs, and improving quality.
This is how you get a huge return on your quality investment. It’s not difficult. You just need systems that will support shop floor, enterprise-wide data collection and a means of pulling those data together and making them easily consumable and understandable by managers, engineers, and quality professionals.
Balancing your processes to get ever closer to your target specifications can be tricky…and missing the mark can cost your company a lot. InfinityQS Quality Intelligence solutions can fuel continuous quality improvement and help you realize cost savings, optimize processes, and expand best practices across the enterprise. To learn more, please visit our website.