The Problem with Fixing Problems: Change Quality Management from Reactive to Proactive
Quality management is about more than stamping out problems. It’s about using quality data to take meaningful action—before the problem occurs.
Welcome to the life of a quality manager. Every day is firefighting day. Something doesn’t meet specifications. Somewhere, a machine failure or process divergence occurs, and the product made doesn’t meet your quality standards. Somewhere along the line, there’s a problem, and it’s up to you and your team to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it—as quickly as possible.
Although the ability to fix problems in the moment is essential, it isn’t the best place to focus your attention all the time. You need to seize every opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in your industry. However, most quality managers have little or no time to think about how to use quality data strategically to make big improvements that benefit all production lines in all plants.
You must overcome multiple hurdles to shift from reactive to proactive operations. At the heart of this challenge is how your company collects and stores quality data.
Data Collection and Storage—Don't Let It Be a Disaster
If your company is like most, you have multiple types of data, generated by multiple systems, and stored in multiple locations. In far too many cases, no single system stores all your data. From ERP and MES systems to spreadsheets and paper, quality information is scattered and de-centralized.
When a problem occurs, you need to determine where the problem originated. That means reviewing data that provides traceability specific to when, where, and how the issue occurred. you must hunt down each separate piece of data to try and fit the puzzle together. Depending on the amount of data collected, that hunt can be time-consuming, overwhelming, even impossible.
But what if all of your quality data were centralized? What if those different systems automatically saved the critical information you need into a centralized data repository? If that happened, then you could:
- Consolidate quality information in one place
- Review quality data from across the enterprise
- Get faster, easier access to the data you need
- Generate previously unknown insights that could improve quality across all plants
An Ounce of Prevention
A solution that unifies your data from all its diverse sources and presents it in one centralized, easy-to-access data repository provides true visibility. It enables automated analysis and reporting about what’s happening in any process, in real time—across your entire enterprise.
Combined with your quality experience, that enterprise visibility enables an approach that goes well beyond after-the-fact firefighting. It leads to real understanding of the workings of your whole organization. And it provides actionable information you can use to empower operations proactively on the plant floor.
Then, you can go beyond the plant floor. When you access this actionable information, you can drive big, sweeping quality improvement and cost reduction. Pretty exciting stuff. When data is centralized, you can easily analyze information specific to any combination of plants, regions, products, processes, shifts, employees, jobs, lots, production orders, and suppliers.
Even better, you can do so from anywhere, on any device. You no longer need to gather paper, work with spreadsheets, or try to transpose, format, and normalize data to support your analysis.
With critical quality information at your fingertips and available in a unified format, you can create reports that point you to the best places in your operations to prioritize your efforts. You can quickly solve most crises, leaving time to shift into proactive mode. And proactive thinking enables you to strategically use quality information to generate the greatest organization-wide benefits.
Imagine being able to see how your entire factory or enterprise is performing on a single report. With modern quality management solutions, you can do so by just opening a browser on your tablet or smartphone—and see region- and plant-specific summaries and details.
Then, you can easily switch and pull up charts, graphs, and analyses to begin unraveling cross-plant problems and determine the best tactics for fixing them.
Insight by Leaps and Bounds
This level of extensive and unified data availability opens up new possibilities. With more time in the day, you can give attention to analyzing aggregated historical data to look for patterns and trends. Access to data across all equipment, processes, and production lines makes comparing data throughout facilities as easy as a few clicks of the mouse.
A solution that makes data readily available and easy to analyze can produce immediate results that immediately and directly benefit your plant floor operators.
And easy-to-configure, flexible, targeted reports can pull in aggregated historical information not just from across a line, but from across your entire plant—even from multiple plants—without requiring expensive hardware purchases or ripping and replacing existing systems.
We understand that during these challenging times, you’re asking tough questions about your quality management efforts. Now is the perfect time to consider how you can shift to a better way of looking at your manufacturing quality—and go from reactive to proactive quality management.
Today, manufacturers need quality solutions that help them support remote workers, empower onsite staff to keep them productive, and optimize operations—even as demands change day. Learn more about how our quality management systems, Enact® and ProFicient™, can meet your most pressing operational challenges.