Obstacles to Visibility on the Shop Floor

iBASEtObstacles to Visibility on the Shop Floor



Obstacles to Visibility on the Shop Floor

Speaker: Michel Gadbois

Let’s examine the basics of an average aerospace company as an example of shop floor visibility. They use anywhere from 30 to 45 different systems. Some are paper, some are small databases and some are Excel. All of these systems compiled together define what happens on the shop floor: who did what and how the process went. When there are at least 50 percent of these definitions on paper or in disjointed systems, it is extremely difficult to know if the right hand really knew what the left hand was doing. The visibility is extremely difficult. Visibility is not limited to whether or not the correct parts or the correct number of parts was made. Visibility really has everything to do with the details of what happened. Was the part at the right configuration? Were the employees that were working on it correctly certified, or did their courses expire? Were the correct changes made based on the most recent engineering change? Having complete visibility of all the details that happen in a complex discrete shop floor is extremely difficult. 

Solumina wraps all of these bits of data – more than 40 systems worth of data – into one cohesive environment. You can click and see that Mary defined the process, Joe approved it, and Frank worked on it. You’ll know that Frank had a problem the first time, there was a defect and the defect was addressed. Mary analyzed the defect. It was repaired, and here are the test results. Everything you wanted to know about who designed the product, who worked on it, what went right, what went wrong, who did the corrections on it, and whether or not it met the final specifications is now in one environment.

If you do not know what is happening on the shop floor, chances are that what is happening is not what you intended to have happen. If you look at an aerospace company, up to 15 percent of their cost of goods sold goes to cost of poor quality. That is scrap, rework, obsolescence, and people working on a revision of a part that is no longer the active revision. There is an enormous amount of do-over work or re-work that happens in an environment such as aerospace. Fifteen percent is not an unusually high percentage. Because the traceability is not there to quickly know who worked on the product or which tool was used to do a particular task, you have a bigger problem when something does go wrong. You cannot use a surgical approach and then simply say, “Oh, it is okay. Unit two was the only one that was affected.” You have no idea which units were affected because you would have to go through boxes of paperwork to find out which tool was used. When they can’t use a surgical approach, companies tend to use a shotgun approach, saying, “Okay. We are not sure, so we are going to re-do all seven of these units to get it right, just to be safe.” The costs of warranty and rework characteristic of the shotgun approach can be enormous.

At the end of the day, in order to compete in today’s digital manufacturing revolution, companies must find a solution to integrate all interfaces into one digital thread. Download our eBook to learn how Solumina can make this a reality.

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