Sunday, January 9, 2011

Creating an Infrastructure for Change

In my last post, I briefly discussed fire-fighting and foundation-building. Over the last six months, my coworker, Niles, and I have have been on a journey in the development of an infrastructure for change. We started on this journey by moving our process guides from Excel to Access. However, it has not stopped there and nearly each week Niles adds additional features to our database.

Now, each process guide includes a trend chart of gram weights and a quality log. This week, we will be launching a verification process that will close feedback loops between the production floor and engineering. This will allow for continuous improvement in the context of the historical trends and current processing conditions. Additionally, I have found the quality log to be an outstanding tool for keeping improvements organized. We have a pull-down menu with categories including material, tooling, and scrap. We are able to keep track of incremental improvements of individual products and quickly pull all changes within the category for a broader overview of improvements.

This week, Niles is going to add bill of material to the category list because cleaning up the bills is one project for this year. I'll be able to quantify each change and document this in the database by part. At the end of the project, I will simply need to print out the changes and be able to show our boss the impact of the project.

In addition, Niles is developing flags in the system. He has an automatic schedule checker that ensures we have a process guide for every product on the schedule. Products without process guides are listed in an email that automatically gets sent to the necessary email addresses.

We have described our program as an infrastructure for change and are continuously thinking about how to improve the infrastructure and how to use it to improve the processing of our products.

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