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Collecting Data Can Save Dollars

In over 30 years of audits, the largest comment we hear from small clients is “we don’t have time for data collection required in clause 9.1.3 of ISO 9001, our system doesn’t collect that info.” It breaks my heart, because time and again we see lack of useful data costing our clients an ongoing hemorrhage of lost production time, staff frustration and reduced engagement, not to mention lost material. This “hidden” cost of reduced quality, often far exceeds the cost for the software updates needed to collect this data, find those drains, and end the waste. In the market shifts of 2000 where just-in-time meant the full order good and on-time, we watched small hard-working companies go out of business because they thought 5% -10% returns from customers was acceptable. In 2022 we all know material is hard to get and costs are higher, so we must all work smarter to eliminate waste and delays. That requires data.

But not all data is useful. What you collect and analyze has to have a purpose. So during March madness, consider identifying data needs and trends vs goals to find process tune-ups to make life saner for your team. A few typical areas:

  • Objectives by department (not just company overall) - weekly/monthly status

  • Sales – calls, meetings, pipeline, and close rate (quotes vs wins)

  • Purchasing – vendor lead times/OTD by sector, material quotas, expedite fees

  • Manufacturing time by each work center – was each phase quoted correctly?

  • Traveler accuracy (# of changes/month) – are steps and criteria complete?

  • Scrap and rework by work operation – if > 1-2 setup pieces what went wrong?

  • Tooling lifecycle – to reduce down time waiting for replacements

  • Daily/shift output by dept vs goal – what bottlenecks can be fixed?

  • Inspection cycle time vs automation, and rejects by dept & cause

  • RMAs - turnaround time and cause by dept

  • Corrective actions – response vs completion time, and cause by dept, and if a customer has repeat issues what info is needed and where?

  • Shipping – costs, damages, delays

  • Safety/maintenance needs submitted vs completed – drives staff engagement

  • Maintenance - cycles by run time vs by calendar, breakdowns, repairs & costs

  • Training progression – show status & future trainings to next goal

A Culture of Improvement Reduces Waste, but it takes data to show effectiveness. So ask your team for a list of things we could fix, and this is critical, engage them in the solution. Support controlled trials of new methods with measurement on time/waste before vs. after. Then have staff make short videos with a phone/tablet explaining issue, solution and results. Showing those videos during rollout of changes, and management publicly recognizing innovators, grows willingness from more reticent staff to participate in change.


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