New ideas for quality management: Part 4

Laboratory information management systems are ideal for facilities that are looking to improve overall lab performance. Does LIMS make sense for you?

04/01/2014


In the last post, I started talking about some of the technology that makes all these new ideas for managing manufacturing quality a reality. We had just started talking about the technology aspects, and I thought I would keep it going a little longer.

One of the fundamental pieces of technology that support these new ideas for manufacturing quality management is information systems. There’s a lot of solutions out there and you don’t need all of them, but I thought I would mention just a few that support these new ideas on managing manufacturing quality.

Before I get started though, let me just emphasize again that everyone doesn’t need all these solutions. Just because I mention something doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. You have to figure out what’s right for you. Starting out with all of these solutions doesn’t make sense. The basic concept is still to start small and grow using the solutions that are right for you. And, one more point, these are just a few examples of the kinds of solutions that are out there. There are lots and lots of different technologies out there. I’m just mentioning a few as general examples here.

Laboratory information management systems (LIMS) have been around for a long time. They are a very mature solution and make a lot of sense for companies that have labs and need to improve the overall performance of the lab. The idea is to use a LIMS to maximize lab performance, speeding up the processes, speeding up the results, and increasing the overall throughput of results through the lab. For companies that can’t get away from labs that support the manufacturing processes, LIMS makes a lot of sense for taking the labs to the next level and getting their performance up to the point where it really needs to be to support the shop floor.

Statistical process control (SPC) and statistical quality control (SQC) packages are another solution that have been around for a long time and are a very mature solution. They are the foundation for a lot of at-line and near-line manufacturing quality solutions. They can be closed-loop or open loop and can use data automatically collected or manually collected. They have options for tie-ins to a variety of instruments and devices. They also support a wide variety of statistical methods and applications, including product specifications, SPC/SQC statistical methods, and various sets of pattern rules or run rules that can be used. SPC and SQC solutions are something that everyone needs to take a close look at for real-time shop floor quality management.

There are a lot of other solutions that are out there as well, but space doesn’t permit me to go into a lot of detail. Weight control systems or net contents control systems are used to manage the finished product weight or contents. These systems help ensure finished goods label compliance and help significantly reduce over-pack and giveaway issues. Least cost formulation systems help optimize raw materials, manage raw material costs, and meet finished good specification targets at the minimal cost. And, defect management systems help manage possible defects in packaging and in the finished products themselves.

There’s a lot of other solutions out there, but these are just a few of the ones that might just make sense for you in helping to implement some of these new ideas for managing manufacturing quality.

Until next time, good luck and have fun!

This post was written by John Clemons. John is the Director of Manufacturing IT at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.



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