The manufacturing industry constantly faces challenges in its production processes that can affect efficiency, quality, and profitability.
Identifying and solving these challenges is essential to remain competitive in an increasingly demanding global market, with the help of methodologies such as Six Sigma, a process improvement methodology that uses DMAIC as its primary tool for continuous improvement. Thus, if you work for a manufacturing company either as a manager, leader, or any other role you play, you will likely have faced problems in production that directly affect customer satisfaction and, therefore, the profitability of your business. In this article, we show you, with a case study, how to identify and solve problems in manufacturing processes to improve the quality of your products and provide a good customer experience.
- Context: Electronic components manufacturing industry
- Defining the challenge
- Measuring the relevant data
- Detailed analysis of variables
- Improve objectives
- Ensure continuous improvement
Context: Electronic Components Manufacturing Industry
This case concerns an organization that manufactures electronic components for different technological devices. It has several standardized production plants located in different parts of the world and a wide range of products, from simple components to more complex parts. The business relationship with its customers is B2C and B2B.
The organization needs help as there is a high rate of defects in its products, which has led to an increase in production costs, an increase in warranty claims, and a decrease in customer satisfaction. Defects included problems with welding, incorrect dimensions, and the presence of impurities in the components.
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We brought together different area representatives, along with the continuous improvement team, to begin to solve the problem before it became too big and unmanageable for everyone.
Defining the challenge
A responsible, interdisciplinary team is needed to get started, with members from different areas such as production, quality, engineering, and sales. It is essential to analyze each step of the production process and determine any problems or bottlenecks affecting efficiency. You can do this through direct observation, data collection, and testing. Once you have identified the issues, you can start working on practical solutions. In this case, it was determined that the problem to be solved is to reduce the defect rate in the welding area products. In addition, the limits and scope of this project were defined.
Measure the relevant data
Once the main problem to be solved has been identified, it is vital to analyze the data and look for patterns to better understand the root cause. Control charts, flow charts, and trend analysis were used to visualize the data and find patterns; this will help you make informed decisions on how to solve the problem and improve the efficiency of your production processes.
The team collected and analyzed data in the welding area, including production records, customer specifications, and quality reports. The data revealed that the defect rate was 3%, significantly higher than the acceptable level of 1%.
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Detailed analysis of variables
Establishing an action plan to solve the problem in a reasonable time and with the right and necessary resources is important. This plan should include clear and specific objectives and a timeline for implementing the solutions. Assigning responsibilities and establishing follow-up measures is also important to ensure the solutions are working and the set goals are achieved.
Several root causes of defects were identified, such as:
- Lack of operator training
- Lack of preventive maintenance on the machines
- Failure to follow customer specifications
- Failure to adequately calibrate measuring instruments to ensure quality
Improving the objectives
For the proposed improvements that the team established as necessary to attack as soon as possible, the following:
- Implement improvements in the welding process, including additional training of workers and repair and maintenance of welding equipment.
- Establish a continuous process monitoring system to detect any problems and correct them on time as corrective actions and follow-ups hand in hand with the customer to let them know the changes.
These solutions are established after several internal analyses, voting, customer priorities, and resources available to the company to develop each one.
Ensuring continuous improvement
Finally, in the last phase, the team established measures to monitor the production process and ensure that improvements were sustained over time. Key performance indicators were found, and a quality tracking system was implemented to monitor the production process in real-time.
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By implementing these improvements, the company could reduce its product defect rate to an acceptable level of 1.2%; this resulted in reduced production costs and improved customer satisfaction. In addition, the company was able to improve its image and reputation in the market, which helped to increase its customer base and increase its revenues.
It is important to emphasize that DMAIC, being a cycle, constantly seeks continuous improvement and therefore invites us to review the processes actively.
If you want to learn more about this methodology, its tools, and how to apply them, we invite you to visit www.imagineer.co, where we will be pleased to provide you with all the support from Strategy Consulting.