Imagine that you are having a new oven fitted in your kitchen.
Have it fitted the right way the first time around, ensuring that it is perfectly functional from day one and works without a fault thereafter?
Have it fitted in a way that does not follow the instructions, causes the oven to waste a lot more energy, ruins half of your meals and is unsafe to use?
It's a no-brainer, right? What if you are a manufacturer? Wouldn’t you face a similar choice between:
Having all procedures on the shop floor executed right the first time, preventing performance, availability and productivity losses.
Continuously firefighting issues on the shop floor that increase operational costs and decrease quality and performance standards.
Essentially, this is a choice between 'First Time Right' and operational inefficiency.
What is ‘First Time Right’ and why should it matter?
The concept of ensuring that any procedure is performed in the right manner the first time and every time is referred to as ‘First Time Right’ (FTR) and originates from Six Sigma. For example, manufacturers can implement it to ensure that first time yield is 100% and there is no re-work or scrap necessary.
Of course, it is unlikely that any manufacturer would make a conscious choice against a perfect FTR score or having 100% first time yield. However, it is likely that there are existing operational inefficiencies on the shop floor hindering the perfect score.
FTR is a valuable KPI to measure as it can indicate flaws in the design and execution of processes on the shop floor and can highlight preventable losses. However, a ‘First Time Right’ score alone cannot contribute to continuous improvement if manufacturers are not enabled to act on it.
While it is true that “process improvement is impossible without process measurement”, measurement is just one of a series of steps that ensure manufacturing excellence on the shop floor.
So what steps in addition to measurement can manufacturers take to improve their FTR score?
DMAIC – 5 steps to making FTR work
DMAIC is a ‘data-driven quality strategy for improving processes’ and is among the most-used Lean Six Sigma project methodologies1. It stands for ‘Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control’ and focuses on identifying and eliminating the root cause of the problem and ensuring that the improvement is sustained.
In the example of FTR, the manufacturer would:
1. Define the problem with the process.
For example, Plant A’s low FTR score indicates that it is producing a high percentage of defective yield.
2. Measure the problem’s magnitude.
Measuring the impact of defective yield on the plant's efficiency and productivity can show that it is costing Plant A X hours of re-work time and Y tonnes of wasted materials which is the equivalent of Z dollars lost.
3. Analyse the root cause of the problem.
Is the defective yield caused by defective equipment or poor quality materials? Are the operators following outdated instructions or has training not been sufficient?
4. Improve the inefficient process by eliminating the root cause and implementing process changes.
If the cause of low first time yield is human error, for example, the manufacturer can provide better pre- and on-the-job training and introduce visual work instructions to help raise operational standards on the shop floor.
Once the improvements have been implemented, the manufacturer needs to ensure that they are sustained by continuously monitoring and supporting the implementation of the improved processes. For example, do operators have a good understanding of the updated best practices and are they engaged in following them?
The successful implementation of these 5 steps largely depends on the ability to:
Monitor and analyse in real-time the execution of operations on the shop floor.
Easily update and share process improvement strategies, best practices and SOPs with the frontline.
Engage the shop floor workforce in the implementation and sustainability of the improvements.
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