Six reasons why Lean and quality initiatives need digital upgrades
Companies often have separate teams driving Lean initiatives and quality initiatives. These teams are often at odds, debating what the higher priorities are among what can seem like competing goals, which adds steps to ensure compliance while and reducing efficiencies. The reality is the two initiatives do not have to conflict.
The philosophies of Lean and quality are rooted in continuous improvement. Quality management functions actually have a lot to contribute to the Lean journey. When these systems are seamlessly integrated and collaborative, the teams become aligned in their work. The two main enabling systems typically at the center of Lean and quality initiatives are the manufacturing execution system (MES) and the quality management system (QMS), respectively.
Consider these six examples of how these systems work together to support the intent of both Lean and quality initiatives.
- Identification of all information relevant to the production process in support of continuous improvement, which is required for the understating of value stream mapping and of quality control requirements
- Full use of machine capacities and resources as well as control of variants for reduced downtime and reduced defects
- Control and enforcement of defined processes to lower rework costs and ensure adherence to specifications
- Efficient management of resources to reduce inventory levels, which is key to Lean principles
- Feedback on non-conformances to optimize product development, which is key for preventive actions
- Complete traceability of products, components, and batches, which is key for performing root cause analysis (RCA).
Being part of a Lean or quality team allows you to see how having these capabilities contribute to your goals. Digitzing the processes and eliminating paperwork are significant steps towards reduction in manual, non-value-added processes, and reducing errors. The use of these integrated systems reduces production times, improve quality, and lower costs. Machine and plant transparency enable faster reactions and support decision making. Getting the teams collaborating on strategic goals that they both support is key. Executive leadership in this area is important to create a culture that supports both a Lean philosophy with exceptional quality standards.
Valérie Goulévitch, head of marketing and communication at Siemens PLM Software, member of MESA International. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org.