A good day on the shop floor is one with no machine issues, no breakdowns, and a supply chain that works the way it’s designed. The staff works well together, everybody meets their deadlines, and products are shipped on time without defects. It sounds great, doesn’t it?
In the real world, we know that it doesn’t always work that way. Equipment does break down, operators make mistakes, and defects occur. When things go wrong, it takes time and costs money to fix and correct problems, and product quality suffers.
Quality control (QC) depends on continuous monitoring, improvement, and training. Isolating why problems happen and taking root cause corrective action is crucial to QC.
Root Cause Corrective Action
We work hard to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, but when the system fails, root cause corrective action is necessary.
What Causes Mistakes on the Shop Floor
Some mistakes are simply human errors. Too often, however, they are symptomatic of underlying issues, including:
- Not having the right processes in place to avoid mistakes
- Not managing the end-to-end process
- Lack of QC monitoring
- Lack of training
Best Practices for Avoiding Corrective Action on the Production Floor
When errors occur, it is essential to document what happened, how it happened, and who was involved. If you’re not careful, it can seem like you are calling out individuals for mistakes. What’s important, however, is that you get to the root cause of the problem to take corrective measures to prevent it from recurring. This process is also called CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action).
The Right Practices
To do this, you need to focus on these items:
- The right practices
- Accurate management systems
- Defined and documented procedures
- End-to-end tracking
- Proper training
- Corrective action
The Root Cause Corrective Action Process
When you need to take corrective action to address the root cause of a problem, follow these steps.
The process starts with gathering the right data. An easy way to approach this is the way that journalists do, which is to employ the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.
While each “W” is important, the “why” (the root cause) is essential. After you gather the necessary data, try to isolate the root cause.
After analysis, the discussion phase begins. This is where you look at each step of the process to determine if similar causes exist or whether other steps in the production chain contribute to the problems uncovered. Include key stakeholders in the discussion whenever possible. A collaborative approach is more likely to improve buy-in to the root cause correction action that will be initiated.
Once you determine the plan of attack, formalize the necessary root cause corrective action. Recognize that change can be difficult for some employees, so it’s crucial to explain not only what needs to be done but also why—and when—it needs to happen. When people understand the underlying reasons for a change, they tend to be much more accepting. The “when” lets them know the deadline for implementation.
Verification of Root Cause Corrective Action
It is also important to verify that the necessary changes have been made and to document the results. Set up a formal review afterward. This should include both a short-term and long-term timeline with written checkpoints. At each checkpoint, evaluate the result. If it is effective, celebrate! If it turns out to be less than suitable, the process should start over at the beginning.
The Right Software
To make root cause corrective action effective, you must have the proper tools to track your process. This includes software that allows you to:
- Track job routing for every part.
- Track personnel, equipment, and vendors throughout the product cycle.
- Track the shop floor in real time.
- Use a defined Quality Management System (QMS).
- Use effective Statistical Process Control (SPC).
If you are using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, you may think that you already have a way to track the data you need. Be careful: there’s a marked difference between ERP software and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). MES is more efficient in tracking, controlling, and documenting the steps involved, from work-order creation to the shipping of finished goods. An MES helps optimize throughput on the production floor and reduce bottlenecks. Most ERP systems, however, are not integrated with the floor. So, if you are using an ERP system, there needs to be bidirectional communication between both the ERP and MES systems.
The Cost of Quality
Customers typically only care about quality when they find problems with your products. It triggers immediate concerns and can undermine the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).
As Todd Wenzel, president, CTO, and founder of Bluestreak said: “Quality is free. Poor quality costs money.”
Bluestreak is designed exclusively for a service-based manufacturing environment, where the primary focus is processing and not inventory management. You can get the right functionality for your business at a fraction of the price of a customized ERP solution.
You will significantly improve your throughput with Bluestreak. Contact us today, and let us show you how we can help optimize your processes, reduce error rates, and grow your business.
If you’re ready to leave manual, time-consuming service-based manufacturing tasks in the past, drastically reduce your scrap and rework percentage, gain visibility of your production floor processes, and build better relationships with your customers, contact us for a free consultation today!