Operational excellence takes work; more specifically, it takes relentless execution. There should be no lack of available continuous improvement projects in the average PCB or other custom component manufacturer. Developing a strategy for identifying the potential projects should be the first step in the process. Using defect data and Pareto analysis you can easily see where the largest dollar return can be gained in each functional manufacturing unit. Customer complaints, quoting accuracy, and customer (external and internal) surveys are good sources for identifying continuous improvement projects within support functions. Focusing on improving the top 3 issues within any one functional unit will achieve much higher return than trying to reduce the bottom 80% if the issues (the old reliable 80/20 rule).
Developing solutions that result in improvement can be expedited by utilizing tools such as Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), Process Control Plans, SPC reports & Process Capability (CPK) data, and Gauge R & R Studies. Advanced problem-solving techniques such as Group Brainstorming, Ishikawa (fishbone) Cause & Effect Diagrams, and Design of Experiments (DOE) are very effective in facilitating root cause analysis.
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