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Process Improvement
Collecting Production Data Without Sacrificing Your Production Speed and Efficiency
May 21, 2024
Jason Dixon
A recovering control freak
Being a part of modular manufacturing for over a decade now and having my hands in operations has taught me some hard lessons.  One of which is the importance of giving the people on the production floor the ability to do their jobs without wasting time gathering data. My first mistake in operations was to needlessly track every action on the production floor by having operators record every step in their work.
Imagine having to nail boards to make a wall and then having a question for every board you complete. You can see how cumbersome this process can become and I became so overly detailed with this process that it caused additional problems.  For one, I was looked at as an overbearing Broom-Hilda for expecting operators to constantly log every single action and I received push-back for slowing down the production process. Soon the urgency to complete their production activities with the constraints of also having to fill out forms resulted in garbage data getting collected. Operators rushed to check every box on forms as quickly as possible without paying close attention to what was being asked or recorded.
Due to this over-collection, our company ultimately had so much production data that we couldn’t rely on most of it in making informed decisions.  I could not say with certainty that when someone on the floor checked a quality or assembly step (e.g. confirming “ item A was fastened with the right fastener B”), that this truly was the case.  Ultimately, this caused me to have to run down quality issues that came from the field rather than dealing with issues at the factory level and preventing unnecessary service costs and repairs. 
Fixing The Problem
To finally fix this data overcollection problem, I began looking for ways to gather the data without wasting my most precious asset, my operator’s time. I looked at what was absolutely necessary to collect and why and then tried to determine the most efficient way to actually record that data.  Instead of each step being checked, I simplified our checklists to one question for documenting a standard procedure for a specific work area or process in the factory.
E.g. a question could be: “Does this meet the standard?” and then the standard was then attached so it could be referenced.  If the standard was not met, then the team lead answering the quality checklist could record the reason it was not met. I got the data I needed and it did not take several questions to get to the reason.  
This opened up time for my team leads to focus on finding failures they were logging and doing root cause analysis. They successfully started limiting the problems that were getting through production by focusing on correcting issues in real-time. This gave them the opportunity to make changes to our production process as a whole and make our operations leaner and the team much more effective.
Once we identified common issues, I updated our quality and conformance checklists for specific work areas or processes to remind operators to always check for that common issue.  
I had my quality controllers become quality auditors and the team leads that were overseeing the areas of production became my quality controllers.  When you add an audit process to the mix you can then help team leads manage individual processes and activities in their work areas to become leaner. This freed up my team leads to do their jobs faster and allowed my quality team to become more effective at identifying issues and coaching operators on improving their processes.  
We created a tight process that would allow quality auditors to find inefficiencies and help the team determine how to make the process lean while documenting any changes to our standard procedures.
Now having learned how to build and institute a lean quality process, I’ve taken my learnings and paired them with my experience here at Offsight. Where we had mountains of paper and spreadsheets in my prior roles we now have Offsight’s mobile apps and dashboard.  
We have created software that is so intuitive, that it helps make lean production easy.  It provides an easy-to-use, fully digital toolset to solve many of the manual challenges I faced with getting the quality team and the production team to work together. 
In summary, when you want to collect data from your production floor, focus on how you would do it without interrupting the ebb and flow of your overall production process and assembly. Collect only what counts. Keep it simple and don’t over-collect.
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