SPC/EMI event is a roaring success with record-breaking attendance and an impressive line up of speakers

Adept Scientific were delighted to welcome so many delegates to last week’s SPC/EMI Executive Briefing – new and familiar faces alike served to make this unique gathering of minds a worthwhile and enlightening event.

The day started with a practical exercise delivered by Mr Roland Caulcutt who has extensive experience in the field of industrial statistics. Four teams were chosen to criticise, praise or ignore a sales person whose monthly figures were presented over the course of 4 months. With undertones of Deming’s fabled Red Bead experiment, delegates were shown that their decisions based on raw data often bore no relation to overall process behaviour and their reactions to individual data points didn’t factor in the bigger picture. Simply put – your reactions to individual data points without suitable analysis will always lead you in the wrong direction. Roland finished his session with an excellent overview of the humble control chart which, regardless of the level of experience in the room, proved a useful starting point for everything that followed.

Next we welcomed the Manufacturing Advisory Service who extended the discussion to consider the processes, systems and culture needed to support data-driven decision making. Their speaker, Mr Richard Wild-Jones (an experienced practitioner in Continuous Improvement), described in detail the abundance of short-term thinking which, more often than not, is at odds with the long term objectives for improvement. This can be solved by adopting a standardised model for continuous improvement. Richard rounded off his presentation by recommending the use of hard facts/data to determine cause and effect. There isn’t anything better to support decision making. He also added that to succeed in todayís global market you need to be constantly thinking, how can we do things differently? How can we do things better?

After a short coffee break we heard from Mr Frazer Nicholson, formerly of RioTinto-Alcan, who had implemented real-time process control dashboard software in less than a day at the Lynemouth smelter in Northumbria. Having searched for an off-the-shelf package which was easy to implement, they chose Northwest Analytics because it could monitor multiple process indicators at the same time via user-friendly role-specific dashboards. Frazer detailed how the system had potentially made over £60,000 in savings and was also extended to other areas within the plant. Although the Lynemouth smelter closed in March 2012, Frazer remains employed as an independent consultant and is currently working with the Fort William smelter. Frazer is also available for consultancy work – his website is www.frazersit.co.uk

Next up to the stage was Lloyd Colegrove, Director of Fundamental Problem Solving at Dow Chemical, who gave a hugely enjoyable presentation about the way in which data analysis took place in his organisation. Dow Chemical makes extensive use of NWA software because it can use data from existing systems and put it in front of the right people. There was plenty of sympathetic nodding from delegates who were also looking for a way to access data locked away in legacy systems and unavailable for timely analysis. My favourite comment of the day came from Lloyd who said, “You have already paid for the hardware to collect the information, the data itself is free! It’s your data – use it!”

After a networking lunch, Mr Paul Russell kick started the afternoon session with a lively (and very frank) discussion about the way in which Statistical Process Control had been implemented at Zotefoams. Paul attended Adept’s first quality event back in 2008 as a delegate when they were in the process of sourcing a supplier of SPC software. Ultimately, they chose Northwest Analytical as their preferred vendor and now Zotefoamsí team of data-informed, software-using decision makers has grown from 2 to 25. Paul was keen to share the lessons theyíd learnt while choosing and implementing quality control software. Louis Halvorsen (Chief Technical Officer, Northwest Analytics) remarked that Paul’s presentation was the “best lessons-learnt story that he had ever seen!” This opinion was echoed on other delegatesí feedback forms.

A second presentation from Lloyd Colegrove went into more detail about how NWA Focus EMI had been used at Dow Chemical to empower operators to do something constructive about process variation. EMI has revolutionised the way in which data is used at Dow Chemical, transforming Data into Information, then Knowledge and then ultimately into Wisdom. A process problem at Dow could cost the company dearly, so timely notification of process problems is their primary objective. Lloyd then detailed the way in which Dow had implemented real-time dashboards and suggested ways in which other companies could do the same. This offered inspiration to everyone in attendance, particularly those who were in the early phases of researching SPC.

Having heard about the benefits of SPC and EMI, we were then given a demonstration of the solution by Louis Halvorsen, who discussed the steps needed to implement and deploy the software throughout a plant. Delegates liked the role-specific dashboards and the fact that they could be customised to suit particular job functions from controlling the process on the factory floor to monitoring the company on a plant by plant basis. The day concluded with a demonstration of Northwest Analytics Multivariate SPC module which produces a familiar Shewhart chart with contributory indicators showing which variable is likely to have caused the problem.

All in all, an action-packed and productive day! If you missed our EMI event, why not watch this short Focus EMI presentation? It lasts just 6 minutes and provides a brilliant overview of the key benefits of Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence. The video contains real-life examples plus a compelling testimonial from Dow Chemical’s Lloyd Colegrove (key speaker at our event). All of which demonstrate how Enterprise Manufacturing Analytics help to identify opportunities for process improvement, improve plant efficiency and reduce the cost of goods.

Manufacturing Intelligence for Intelligent Manufacturing – NWA Focus EMI

It is said that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Despite the recency of this data, many companies find they are not looking at the right bits, in the right way, at the right time. Yet that’s exactly what’s needed to reduce costs, increase yields and improve quality in an environment of every increasing competition and customer demands.

New NWA Focus EMI from SPC software specialists, Northwest Analytics, addresses all of these needs but is also easy to implement and very intuitive to use. It makes information readily available to the people that need it regardless of where it is stored. With NWA Focus EMI it is possible to gain an instant understanding of any given situation by simply glancing at a dashboard and enables you to manage your processes in real time.

View this recorded webinar to find out how Dow Chemical have benefitted from NWA Focus EMI.

Count on SPC to deliver competitive advantage on World Quality Day 2012

NWA Quality Analyst® is the SPC software at the heart of many successful quality management, Six Sigma, or Continuous Process Improvement programs. Faced with mounting pressure to reduce costs, achieve higher quality levels, and meet more stringent customer and regulatory requirements, more and more manufacturers are turning to NWA Quality Analyst to deliver the complete analytics capabilities that turn manufacturing data into valuable, actionable information capable of developing competitive advantage – the theme for this year’s World Quality Week.

Each day, companies use NWA software to reduce operating costs, increase productivity and profits by:

• Increasing process efficiency and improving product quality;
• Understanding and improving process operations;
• Improving enterprise-wide communication and decision-making;
• Demonstrating compliance with customer and regulatory quality requirements.

Read how Crown Cork and Seal Co. Inc used NWA Quality Analyst and Quality Monitor to stay ahead in the competitive container manufacturing industry. These tools helped them monitor and maintain product consistency and quality, as well as reduce costs. Read case study.

Learn more about Northwest Analytics range of SPC software solutions

Management should lead the way in more efficient food manufacture

There was plenty of food for thought for delegates who attended the Improving Efficiency in Food Manufacturing event, which took place in Chipping Campden on Thursday 18th October. There was a great deal of discussion and exchange of ideas for implementing lean principles, as well as an emphasis on the importance of complete and total commitment to process improvement and monitoring.

A key point was the role management should play in the whole process improvement strategy. A profound knowledge of the product, the processes and what makes the company tick is imperative for enlightened and successful leadership – that means you don’t make a statement or make a move without the data to back it up. Management must take the time to assess the current situation and find out where the inefficiencies are before formulating plans for improvement. Following on from this theme, The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) gave a lively presentation which was reminiscent of the lectures led by the late, great quality guru, W. Edwards Deming.

Safer food while saving money – Food Safety Week 2012 theme applies to budget-stretched households & food manufacturers alike

As the Food Standards Agency (FSA) launch their Food Safety Week 2012 today, it’s not just families and households thinking about how to ensure food safety while trying to save money – indeed more and more food manufacturers are turning to our SPC software solutions developed by Northwest Analytics to help them reduce waste and cut costs while guaranteeing quality and food hygiene. Tough economic times and strict food safety standards mean there’s no room for error in food production. Our quality management and analytics software enable successful compliance with regulatory standards such as the Food Safety Modernisation Act and commercial standards such as ISO22000 and GFSI. They deliver effective systems that handle data collection, management, analytics and visibility throughout the company and supply chain.

Download our Food Industry SPC Application Pack to read how food manufacturers like Kettle Foods, rely on NWA SPC software solutions to guarantee the quality of their goods and improve productivity, while reducing waste and cutting costs.

When it comes to cutting costs, SPC is a dead cert. So what’s stopping you?

It still surprises us that manufacturing companies aren’t more proactive about implementing SPC. Instead, we get quality managers contacting us because their customers have demanded they establish a proper process monitoring system, rather than because they want to actively improve what they do and ultimately cut costs for the business. Why leave it till you’re at the point of being forced into SPC when it will save your company thousands of pounds? It doesn’t make sense!

I guess there are all kinds of reasons why companies choose to put off introducing SPC; Lack of time or funds, fear of anything maths- or stats-related, and even fear of failure (though with SPC, you’re onto a sure thing). But for every excuse, I can give you a valid counter-argument. With a view to addressing any reservations you might have about whether SPC will work for your organisation, I’ve created a new white paper entitled ‘Our customers want us to do it’. Please feel free to download it here, then email me if you’d like to discuss any of the points raised – I’m always up for a good debate!

How can I get funding for improving, updating or extending my Quality System?

What’s my ROI story?

During recent months, we’ve had several enquiries from manufacturing companies keen to learn more about SPC software, who then subsequently ‘go quiet’ when they realise they’ll have to apply to management for budget approval. There could be many reasons for this apparent change of mind, though it’s often simply a question of lack of funds or a mañana mentality. In the instances where SPC software requests are competing directly with other projects for the same money, the success of your proposal hangs on your ability to provide a solid Return on Investment (ROI) justification.

This shouldn’t be a problem given that a properly implemented SPC system can save a business many thousands of pounds per year. However, generally speaking, it is rare that our customers have a solid “ROI Story”. More often than not, there is a general belief that improving the quality system will ‘somehow’ reduce costs and benefit the business but an exact figure is not known. With a view to giving you the tools you need to arrive at a realistic (and persuasive) ROI potential, we strongly encourage you to view the ‘Finding the ROI in your Quality System’ webinar from Northwest Analytics.

Customer successes with SPC software impress delegates at Quality Event

Quality in Practice October 2009 Event

Packed with presentations, case studies and a workshop too, there was something for everyone who attended our highly successful Quality in Practice event on 8th October. The positive, enthusiastic atmosphere, as delegates compared stories and shared experiences, made a refreshing change from all the industry doom and gloom of late.

Attendees heard how four different companies had adopted Northwest Analytical’s SPC software solutions to address a range of quality-related issues. Industry expert and Chief Technical Officer for Northwest Analytical, Louis Halvorsen, gave two instructional presentations about overcoming barriers to implementing a comprehensive Quality Information system and the use of multivariate SPC techniques to provide on-going process monitoring. He also amazed delegates with a workshop that showed how to implement an SPC data collection and reporting system in less than 30 minutes using database utilities from Northwest Analytical – no programming required!

All in all, a very worthwhile day, and a great chance for users and non-users alike to put our SPC software into practical perspective.

If you missed this event, but you’d like to find out more about any of the topics covered during the day, please contact our UK office on +44 (0) 203 695 7810 or email info@alfasoft.com. In the meantime, you can read more about our range of Statistical Process Control solutions on our website.

Quality Days

Peter Cheesley

We held a really successful event on 23rd April that went far beyond the standard training session or seminar! We had quality professionals from all kinds of backgrounds come together to pool their expertise and experience of implementing an effective way of assessing and reporting quality.

During case study presentations and informal networking, it was clear that delegates all faced similar quality issues regardless of industry. Those that had overcome  obstacles already, shared the lessons they had learnt and the secrets of their success. Our main speaker was Louis Halvorsen, Chief Technical Officer of NorthWest Analytical, there wasn’t a question he couldn’t answer

We orginally planned the event to preview some new Quality tools soon to be released by NorthWest Analytical but it was clear at the event that people also really appreciated being able to share information on how they implement SPC.  Several people also congratulated Adept on our great service which was brilliant of course.  We all try really hard to support our customers to make the most of their investment in the systems we supply and it is really good when people let us know that we are doing a good job.

Adept Products

For the time being we are unable to offer the following product ranges although we are currently working hard to increase the number of products we can offer in the future. Please contact us to talk about alternative products that we may be able to offer you.