|Determine key variables, chart the data, respond|
After starting an electronics manufacturing company in 1992, I had a major Fortune 500 customer come audit my facility three days after installing the first line. We had worked hard to make sure everything was in order, the manufacturing personnel were trained, and we'd just completed our own audit the day before.
At the end of their visit, we were pleased to hear we had passed. However, they were looking for a continual improvement program. I asked them if they had anything specific they'd like to see, and the response was simple:1. Determine the key variables
2. Chart the data
It sounded very simple- and it was- but it was also very powerful, as the graphical data enabled our people to see trends and engaged their natural curiosity to understand their processes better. So we created charts and trained everyone (including sales, engineering , materials management). We also trained everyone to calculate statistical control limits. Eventually, we purchased real time SPC software with networked Cpk monitoring, which got expensive when rolled out across the factory.
The greatest benefit came from the initial implementation of key variables charting throughout the company. We charted output, yields, wetting height, alignment, pull strength, everything we thought could be important, and over time found variables we didn't realize were variables. And we not only improved our processes, but created a culture where employees understood and tried to optimize their own processes.
Over the years, our SPC program was one of the strengths of our manufacturing operations, but it was the initial implementation of "determine key variables-chart them-respond" that put us on the road to achieving world class quality as we built tens of millions of devices that went into the backbone of the internet, police and government networks, medical equipment, cars, planes, and space probes. Our low cost SPC software, mrSPCTM can do the same for your company. Click here for more information.