The War on Defects
Statistical Quality Control (SQC) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) is the lifeblood of a manufacturing company that seeks to measure and capture data about their products and monitor the production process to ensure high-quality standards. Producing and shipping high-quality products at a reasonable price is the only way a manufacturer can remain in business. With the Epicor® Kinetic Enhanced Quality Assurance module, gone are the days of “good enough” or “we compete on price, not quality,” manufacturers are being held to increasingly higher standards of quality by their competitors. Much of the credit for this goes to W. Edwards Deming, often regarded as the “father of Statistical Quality Control” based mainly on his early work in postwar Japan and who was widely regarded as a hero in Japan for his emphasis on statistics as a tool for improving quality in manufacturing.
To unleash your “war of defects,” you will require training. Tomerlin-ERP Kinetic Enhanced Quality Assurance training staff will assist your inspectors in making the most of your Enhanced QA module.
Costs of Quality
Deming and others demonstrated that the cost of inferior quality could be measured, allowing management to evaluate their quality programs in dollar terms. These costs fall into two categories:
- Inspection costs are easily measured as the cost of human and machine resources to inspect products during the manufacturing process.
- Defect costs are also easily measured, such as the cost of reworking a defective part or the accumulated cost of a scrapped part. However, defect costs are not easily calculated, such as the cost of a late shipment and/or the cost of a lost customer.
Because of the impact of the defect costs, there is no “optimal” solution to minimize costs; the ones that can’t be directly measured will overwhelm the ones that can. However, management can use the information from the measurable costs to evaluate its quality program, not with an eye toward cost minimization but output maximization.
An Effective Quality Program
It’s not enough to know that a manufacturing process creates defective parts or even how many are produced. The fundamental knowledge comes in determining why the defects occur, and for this, it is necessary to capture process information such as diameter, thickness, tensile strength, etc. This is where the Epicor® Kinetic Enhanced Quality Management (EQA) module comes in. This module lets manufacturers create inspection plans for receiving or in-process inspection and calibration plans for machinery. An inspection plan will:
- Define attributes to store measurements and to establish pass/fail criteria.
- Create specifications and attach documents to the specification for further details as needed. A Specification controls the inspection attributes that are evaluated against the specification and defines the acceptable values for each attribute. You will assign a revision to a specification to control its effectivity date.
- Set equipment calibration criteria.
- Use revision control to create multiple revisions of a plan and approve the revisions as appropriate.
- Determine sample sizes.
- Set inspection intervals using Skip Lot processing.
- Store the collected data in database tables available for export to an SPC system and/or a Business Activity Query report or dashboard.
Because all of the above are user-defined, the Epicor Enhanced Quality module can be used by any manufacturer.
Setting Up Inspection Plans
Epicor’s Kinetic Enhanced Quality Assurance (EQA) module uses the Epicor® Kinetic Product Configurator as the base for data collection, although a license for the Configurator module is not required. An Inspection Plan is revision-controlled and may be used with multiple specifications.
The process is as follows:
1. Define the attributes for the data you wish to collect – what is it you want to measure?
2. Create the specifications and assign the attributes
3. For each attribute, define any parameters and pass / fail values, as appropriate. These can be done in the specification or in the Inspection Plan itself
4. Finally, pull all of this together into an Inspection Plan or Calibration Plan. Launch the Product Configurator and bring in the specification and attributes needed in the plan.
Once the Inspection Plan has been created and approved, it can be assigned to a part (for receiving inspection or RMA Processing) or an operation for in-process inspection.
Using an Inspection Plan
In the Inspection Process in the EQA module for a purchase order receipt, the program will recognize when the purchased part has an approved inspection plan and enable the data collection process. This will start with choosing a sample size; the Product Configurator generates the number of inspection instances to match the sample size and displays the Attributes screens to collect the data.
Similarly, Epicor recognizes when an inspection plan has been assigned to an operation and will provide the same functionality. In both cases, the process generates a Nonconformance for any parts that fail inspection. Inspection personnel can use the Nonconformance to create a Corrective Action as needed.
Likewise, the collected data can be exported using a Business Activity Query into a BAQ Report or dashboard to display statistics by part and attribute, such as Mean and Standard Deviation, and create an X-bar Control Chart to display sample statistics for process control purposes. Crystal Reports or the SQL Server Report Service (SSRS) are excellent reporting tools to display the control chart.
Skip Lot Processing
One of the more robust features of the Enhanced Quality Assurance module is the ability to determine the inspection interval for a purchased part to allow receipts to bypass receiving inspection based on past quality results. This is done by defining a Skip Lot Code, which specifies the number of lots to be inspected, the number of lots to be skipped between inspections, and the repeat cycle. Users will define multiple skip lot codes based on inspection results.
For example, a user may decide to inspect two lots of a part and then skip the following three lots if the first two pass inspection and repeat this process for a total of three cycles. If the supplier delivers lots that pass inspection for all cycles, Epicor will automatically change the inspection occurrences to another Skip Lot Code that the user has assigned, such as skipping eight lots and inspecting two. If any lots fail inspection, then Epicor will likewise assign a different Skip Lot Code for a more intensive inspection.
What Can I Expect from EQA?
You cannot expect to build and ship high-quality parts without knowledge of your manufacturing processes, and EQA provides this knowledge regarding the incidence of defects and where these defects are occurring. As you may have inferred from the above, this module requires a significant set up to define the inspection attributes and then use them in specifications and inspection plans. EQA provides a means of gathering production data and storing the data in a format readily available for analysis through SPC software or user-written reports and dashboards, allowing you to see what is going on on your shop floor.
Contact Tomerlin-ERP today if you believe Epicor’s Kinetic Enhanced Quality Assurance module is suitable for you. Call us at 818-887-9162.