In manufacturing, having your data in a single, centralized repository is a beautiful thing. The benefits are many, and the drawbacks, quite frankly, are non-existent. There’s really no reason not to have your manufacturing quality data in one place. And every reason to do so.
Sounds dramatic. But let’s look at the benefits that will help you see the big picture of your manufacturing processes, and soar above your competition.
Standardization makes everything easier when it comes to collecting, analyzing, and reporting on your quality data. And centralizing your quality data is the easiest way to standardize.
Standardizing naming conventions (product codes, feature names, lot number formats, and more) is crucial. Not only does it ensure a common code of communication across all plants, but it supports system-to-system integration, and enables simplified high-level reporting and data analysis across all plants.
In addition, standardization limits the confusion that is so common in organizations today, the result of individual plants who do not comply with standardization in systems, naming conventions, and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
When naming conventions are standardized, quality management complexity is reduced. Systems can easily aggregate data across production lines and plants, providing corporate-wide quality insights that are generally impossible to uncover without standardization.
The Bird’s-Eye View
When data is centralized, you can aggregate it and review quality performance across production lines, shifts, facilities, and geographical distances. This bird’s-eye view is critical for prioritizing quality improvement actions for your limited quality resources.
It’s essential to be able to focus on the big picture of what’s going on across your organization. Instead of devoting attention exclusively to quality problems, you need to look at data that represents quality information across multiple production lines, shifts, plants—across the entire enterprise.
The big picture is the key. It’s not hard. You just need systems that will support shop floor, enterprise-wide data collection and a means of aggregating that data and making it easily consumable and understandable by managers, engineers, and quality professionals.
Uniformity: It’s the reason a cook doesn’t taste the soup until the pot has been stirred and the reason why we agitate a can of paint before brushing it on a wall. Product uniformity is what all companies strive to achieve. It’s a lack of product uniformity that bedevils manufacturers.
Ideally every product a company produces should be identical—regardless of which plant made it. But creating identical products is impossible. Variation is inevitable and no two products are ever identical. Just look at humans: so similar, and yet so incredibly unique. Identical twins? They’re never identical.
At the risk of oversimplifying, most quality improvement efforts are an attempt to either manage and reduce variation, or deal with its consequences. Understanding variation and highlighting non-uniformity is the primary job of any good quality management system. Perfection is impossible. Reducing product variation to manageable levels is the objective of every quality system.
When your products are uniform, particularly when they are consistently uniform over the long run, customers will return to you. But if the product they repeatedly purchase is different just one time, customers may lose faith in your company’s ability to consistently meet their expectations. The result? They may buy your competitor’s product next time. In these uncertain times, losing a customer is a very expensive proposition.
Notably, customers don’t concern themselves with what plant made the products they buy. When a customers buys your product in a different country, they expect the product to perform the same. The underlying assumption of any consumer is this: regardless of which plant the product came from, the product should be the same as the last one I purchased. Every time, the same product should just be the same.
If you want to reduce your company’s product variation and enjoy the benefits of doing so (lower costs, greater customer loyalty, etc.) at more than one plant, then you’ve got to centralize all of your quality data.
Being able to view data across all plants and production lines provides valuable information to organizations. It enables them to easily identify which plants generate quality performance that needs to be replicated, and which plants need the help of Six Sigma teams. Whether replicating best practices or pinpointing plants that could use extra help to improve uniformity, those actions are the result of aggregated, summarized quality data.
Rather than trying to gather up a bunch of spreadsheets or paper reports of quality data from each plant every month, it’s far more efficient to review the same data from a central repository. With software. And when you can identify your best improvement opportunities, you can see impactful transformations quickly.
A Competitive Advantage for the Future of Your Organization
The advantages we’re describing here haven’t always been available. For decades, the gold standard of manufacturing quality management has been a robust, SPC-powered on-premises quality management solution. But the very fact that such a solution was deployed on a plant-by-plant basis made that centralization impossible.
Today, that same robust, SPC-powered solution is available in the cloud, where data centralization is finally possible in real time. The possibilities we have in front of us now are endless.
As manufacturers look beyond the challenges of the global pandemic, they recognize the value of centralized quality data. Visit the InfinityQS website to learn about our award-winning solution, Enact®.