NW Analytics Blog

Let’s Escape the Illusion of Control

Are many manufacturers kidding themselves? Do they believe those magic numbers that pop up in their dashboards give them the real process performance story? Doesn’t that single value tell the complete tale?

Manufacturers create Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to better understand what is happening in their process. One of the most common, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE),  combines measures of availability, throughput and quality to provide a more comprehensive understanding of equipment or production line performance. However, a single OEE value provides very limited...

Extend the reach of Six Sigma and Lean

Manufacturing companies are always on the lookout for methods to improve performance and reduce waste. Currently, two favored programs are Six Sigma and Lean. Companies are minimizing waste with Lean initiatives and minimizing operational process or quality variation through initiatives such as Six Sigma.

In a recent MESA study, 35% of the respondents said they had a significant effort in Lean with an additional 50% claiming some implementation. For Six Sigma programs, 15% claimed significant implementation and an additional 42% some implementation.

And while Six Sigma and...

Keeping the recall from the door

Consider the lowly Class III recall. While overshadowed by the headline-grabbing, health-threatening Class I variety, the economic damage to your operations is anything but lowly.

On May 8, 2012 the State of Wisconsin announced that a large, big-brand processor paid the state $36,908.50 for 24 short-weight packages of franks and lunch meat – that’s $3075.71 per package!

While surely an anomaly for this producer, this is also a prime example of what companies should consider as they look at project...

In Pursuit of Performance Excellence

The big promise of Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) is that it will transform your company into a high-performance, knowledge-driven organization. And, when that happens, you will be more productive and profitable.

The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) has shown this promise to be true. In their latest study, Pursuit of Performance Excellence:  Business Success through Effective Plant Operations Metrics, they demonstrate that a major difference between companies that show superior profitability (...

Getting people and EMI systems on the same page

Our common industrial temptation is to focus on the “easy” engineering part of management systems while deferring the more difficult people part of incorporating the system into the daily work life. However, we need to give organization and workforce issues the same attention if we are to develop successful and sustainable manufacturing management systems.

The system needs to be easy to use and well enough embedded into company culture that it survives time and employee turnover. This is not just for our internal needs, but to meet commercial standards that define manufacturing...

Evolving EMI from a tech-driven project to a value-driven initiative

Industry analysts and the marketplace alike tell us that for a manufacturing company to prosper, it must incorporate Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) into its management practices. As Pierfrancesco Manenti of IDC Manufacturing Insights says, “The basic productivity gains in manufacturing have been realized. The next level must be achieved through Manufacturing Intelligence.”

Manufacturers have invested heavily in facilities, automation, and plant-floor systems to increase efficiencies and reduce costs, but it is apparent that more is needed.  To reach the next...

Don’t Leave Your Money on the Scale

Lagniappe may be a time honored tradition in New Orleans, but “give-away” (aka product overfill) is a major cost for food and other packaged consumer goods. Manufacturers are whipsawed between the economic drive to reduce package overfill and the risks of non-compliance with regulatory MAV standards and commercial contract specifications.

The solution to this problem is simple: minimize give-away and maximize profit by reducing fill variation and moving the fill target as close as possible to the lower spec limit. The article “...

The Yield and Efficiency Thief

Excessive start-up or changeover time increases production costs and overhead – all without adding a dollar of value. Ultimately, this non-productive time reduces yields, causes labor and equipment to be poorly utilized, and negatively impacts every element of OEE. 

 The application note, Startup Time – The Yield and Efficiency Thief, outlines a workable approach to monitoring the startup process and making informed decisions on how to improve performance and streamline the start-up and...

Back to Basics

It is very easy to focus on the glittering façade while giving scant attention to whether the foundation is sound and the framing is true. The same happens when we look at manufacturing decision support tools such as analytics and graphics-based notifications and reporting. It is too easy to assume that the data has been properly collected and handled so that we can make the analysis we need.

Data collection procedures and systems shape not only the accuracy of the analysis, but also what can be asked and reasonably answered. Therefore, it is worthwhile investing upfront effort when...

Food Quality and Safety Intertwined

In his recent article “Striking the right balance between safety and quality”, Kevin Higgins, the Senior Editor at Food Engineering, wrote about the interconnection between quality and safety programs and interviewed several people in the industry. Although most understood quality in this context implied process management and meeting specifications, there were some that discussed quality in the product grade sense. That misperception complicates the effort to develop and...

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