Background/Problems

With production processes forever being reengineered to extract cost, whether in time or materials, there are fewer margins for error. Key issues for quality are:

  • Compliance – can you demonstrate that you meeting the control plan – always?
  • Cost of quality – how expensive is it to implement?
  • Customer complaints – what level?
  • Warranties and claims – what level?

It is vital that the correct checks are being carried out, at the required frequency and with the correct specifications being used. There are fewer people on the shop floor managing the process so it is also more important than ever to make quality-related data available to them quickly.

Quality is not just about eliminating sub-standard output, nowadays more and more customers expect to see information on their suppliers’ quality processes. Whereas audits alone might once have been enough, now they want detailed data on quality performance – sometimes for each production run.

In most manufacturing environments, getting all the data on quality together in one place where it can be managed, examined and reported on is major stumbling block, especially where data is collected from a variety of sources, at different intervals and by different groups of people.

It is not uncommon for relevant data to be distributed between a number of systems with some residing in, say, a CMM (co-ordinate measuring machine) and other data collected from gauges in the lab and on-line checks recorded on paper.

Solution

The Quality module of Shopfloor-OnlineLifescience Edition provides a solution that has the following points:

  • Define the quality control plan:
    • Define all of the quality checks across the factory in terms of a collection of attributes and variables with frequencies and sample sizes
    • Variables have specifications (as tolerances or absolute values), including single sided tolerances. Additionally plausibility limits are optional
    • Variables and attributes can be graded e.g. critical, major, minor
    • The control plan is version controlled; so if for example a specification changes, the old and new versions are kept and the measurement data is tied to the correct specification (specification changes are shown on charts).
    • Event-based checks provide a powerful way of defining checks that should be done in certain circumstances e.g. after a job start, after a parameters was recorded out of spec.
  • Collect data:
    • The system reminds operators when to do checks according to the control plan to reduce the chances of an operator forgetting to do a check
    • Data is entered into screens that can be fine-tuned to match the way you collect data
    • The system allows measurement gauges and instruments to be directly connected to the PC (e.g. via RS232 or multiplexers) so the measurements are transferred directly without re-keying, saving considerable time and reducing errors
  • Generate alarms:
    • As quality data is captured any violations of specification limits automatically generate alarms. If the SPC module is deployed, then Out-of-Control alarms are generated if the data breaks an SPC control limit or trend rule.
    • Alarms are generated as Open, but can be managed to Closure; additional information can be captured, for example cause and action.
  • Automatic data capture:
    • Interfaces can be built to take measurement data automatically from measurement systems e.g. CMMs, spectrometers, bespoke gauges, camera systems and so on. In this case, data is often extracted from measurement text or Excel files or a remote database. UDI scripts extract the data automatically without operator intervention.
  • Provide visibility:
    • All data is recorded in the central database and accessed via the web browser – so all the quality data across the factory is available in the same form, from anywhere
    • Quality data can be visualised on dash boards, so that the current status is visible to all
  • Powerful reporting:
    • Standard reports there are many standard reports that provide powerful analysis of quality data, for example: Process Capability Indices (Cp, Cpk); Control Plan Conformance, Out of Specification measurements and trends; defect analysis, Pareto analysis, and so on
    • Additional custom reports can be created for example Customer Certificates – often these have to be provided in a particular way

When Used with Other Modules

When the Quality module is used in conjunction with other modules of Shopfloor-OnlineLifescience Edition more opportunities open up. For example:

  • The SPC module automatically generates SPC charts for all quality data and provides real-time alarm generation if measured values break control limits or trend rules.
  • The Links to Documents module allows documented procedures like SOPs or procedures describing how to do the quality check to be attached to checks and easily accessed by operators in a one-click content sensitive manner.
  • With the Concerns and Corrective Actions Module, Quality checks that detect serious problems can automatically generate a Concern, that can subsequently be managed through its life cycle

Benefits

  • Bring it all together – all the quality data in the factory, from all sources, can be managed in one system, accessible to all in a consistent easy to use way.
  • Real-time visibility – reminders when checks are not done; alarms if measurements go out of specification or control; nothing gets missed. Problems are flagged immediately – improving reaction time.
  • Become exception driven – Operators and management can work on an exception-driven basis – automatically alerting people to problems when they arise. This saves time, improves reliability and makes everyone more effective.
  • History – a history of data and powerful reporting tools support continuous improvement.
  • Management of master data – Control plans can be generated for individual products or shared across similar products, which means that control plans are much easier to manage.
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