The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Dec 21, 2011

Production Optimizes Manufacturing Automation

The production flow in any factory has a very important associate that helps manufacturing achieve its optimum rate. That associate is one piece flow production.

When a production line design includes cellular work stations it is in the best interest of the management of the production operation to consider implementing one piece flow production. Including one piece flow production in the operation is the best way to have manufacturing create only products that are needed. As a product moves through the work stations of the production line there is no accumulation of partially completed products between the work cells.

The scenario called one piece flow production is very simplistic, but it yields excellent benefits. The queue that is allowed between work cells on the line in this scenario can only contain one product at any one time. The first work cell starts the production of a product and when the work is completed at that cell the product is placed in the queue for the second cell to begin its work. There is never more than one product in queue between work cells on the production line. If the queue immediately after a given cell has a product in it that is to be worked on by the following cell, the cell before that queue is idle and does not work. It is only when the queue after the cell is empty that the cell can work on a product.

This one piece flow production process may seem over-simplified, but actually it delivers great benefit to the overall operation. For example, if there is a problem with the work that is done at a given cell in the production line, and the line runs in such a way that each cell is allowed to produce as many products as it can. This could build up a large backlog of products that could be waiting in queue to be processed by the next work cell. Once the problem is discovered, it will be necessary to rework all those products in the queue that are defective, causing an increase in labor expense. If the problem is too great to be reworked, then the defective products may need to be scrapped, causing an increase in raw material losses. As the production line runs and products are accumulated between work cells there will need to be a place for all those partially completed products to be stored, increasing the need for warehouse space. These are definitely extra costs and losses that can be avoided by using one piece flow production.

In order to achieve an effective implementation of one piece flow production in a manufacturing operation, the output of each cell in the production line has to be able to routinely create good products. Each of the cells must be able to accomplish work that is consistently repeatable, so that the single product queue is always filled for the nest work cell. There can be no periodic downtime for equipment that is running on the production line. The proximity of tasks that are done in a well designed work cell can have a bearing on the time required to complete the work at any given cell. This is dictated by the way the production floor is laid out. The work area of any given cell must be designed so that the employees in that cell can reach resources and perform tasks in a reasonable time frame that allows for continuous work.

The design for one piece flow production is best accomplished with manufacturing automation. In fact the likelihood of creating a cost-effective production line with one piece flow production without manufacturing automation would be nearly impossible. The design of the work flow of the production line has to have very precise cycle times for each work cell in the line. Coordination of the movement of products from one cell to the next is easily dictated by well-defined manufacturing automation. The controller for each work cell must be set to give the cell or cells that it instructs timely orders, so that the work of each cell is in perfect relationship with the work of the other cells on the production line.

Cycle times are set up so that at the completion of the cycle at one work station the start of the cycle time at the next work station begins. It should be near a hand in glove relationship, as one work cell completes the next work cell begins its work. When a company is setting up manufacturing automation, one of the main goals of the completed automation process is to have one piece flow manufacturing in place because this type will yield optimum results.

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Dec 19, 2011

One Piece Flow VS Mass Production

It is every business owner's objective to have a streamlined and efficiently running business. This means that its highly productive,improve quality, amply generates revenues, high chance for expansion, and little room for waste.

For accomplishing these objectives, business owners have to decide whether to adopt the lean manufacturing one piece flow approach or mass production.

For the uninformed business manager, one piece flow or continuous flow manufacturing refers to a practice of producing one part at a time with little waste, at the lowest possible cost, free of defects and on time. This practice encourages fulfilling customer's expectations with only manufacturing what is needed. Since parts are done one at a time, tasks become simpler with little room for defects. On the other hand, mass production manufactures goods in large batches before orders start piling in to reduce production cost.

If one piece flow is done right, a continuous stream of activity between manufacturers and shop operators is achieved. This practice aims constant improvement with regards to quality, productivity, and profits without having to create unnecessary inventory.

A one piece flow simulation shows that since products are made a part at a time, cycle time for production is shorter, and you can easily see if there are defects in certain output. Mass production can pose certain problems to businesses. With a large batch, processing items can be very time consuming and they can't move down the line unless they have been processed. Given a large inventory, more manpower and space is needed to store them. Since goods are made by batches, quality of these goods can go down and highly susceptible to defects.

Continuous flow manufacturing can supply a constant stream of goods to customers with little to no lag time. Since tasks are done individually, chances for defects are lowered and problem areas can be easily spotted and fixed accordingly. Less space and labor is needed, since you only produce what is important. Still not convinced? Try a one piece flow simulation.

This practice can be applied in many fields like software, software requirements, order fulfillment, and more. Keep in mind: in order for continuous flow to work, producing quality products should be consistent and easily repeated. If you're looking for options for business management, try a one piece flow simulation to see if it's right for you.

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Dec 17, 2011

Importance of Software Quality Assurance

Software quality is one of the pivotal aspects of a software development company. Software quality assurance starts from the beginning of a project, right from the analysis phase.

Software Quality Assurance (SQA) is defined as a well planned and systematic approach to evaluate the quality of software. It checks the adherence to software product standards, processes, and procedures. SQA includes the systematic process of assuring that standards and procedures are established and are followed throughout the software development life cycle and test cycle as well. The compliance of the built with agreed-upon standards and procedures is evaluated through process monitoring, product evaluation, project management etc.

The major reason of involving software quality testing in the process of software product development is to make sure that the final product built is as per the requirement specification and comply with the standards.

Requirement analysis and definition
Design architecture and description
Coding and logic analysis
Change and configuration management
Testing and standard compliance
Release management and Release Control

Different activities of Quality Assurance are the following:

Maintaining the quality of the project as per the specifications and business requirements.
Defect Prevention. And formal methods for other defect prevention techniques
Defect Reduction
Inspection, formal and informal reviews: Direct fault detection and removal without executing the project scenario.
Testing the project for Failure observation and bug removal.
Risk identification.
Defect tracking techniques and methods
Software fault tolerance.
Concluding Remarks and maintaining reports.

Software quality assurance is concerned with building software products with required quality and maintaining the level of quality. Software processes are important paradigm in achieving the software quality. The software quality assurance (SQA) key process area of the capability maturity model (CMM) consists of activities for keeping track on adherence to the processes and specifications. The term SQA sometimes creates confusions with the quality management concepts. Software quality can be quantified into two major groups such as:

Software functional quality: It basically shows how well the software product conforms to the basic design, based on functional requirements. The attribute can also be described as the fitness for purpose of a software

Software structural quality: It reflects to how well the project meets the non-functional requirements such as usability, accessibility and security that helps in proper the delivery of the functional requirements. It basically defines the degree of correctness of the product.

The Structural quality of a product is defined by the analysis of the software inner structure and its source code. The reason for structural software quality analysis is to check the adherence of the product with the software architecture specification. It is carried out by the developer of the project. In contrast; functional quality is all about checking the functionality adherence with the requirements specification and is measured through software testing.

The major principles required for any software product for quality and business value fulfillment are Reliability, Efficiency, Security, Size and Maintainability

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Dec 11, 2011

Lean Maintenance : Zero Maintenance Time

Zero maintenance time—this goal becomes more of a reality when you align the processes and organization of your maintenance in such a way that the value stream is not disrupted and the useful productive time of machines and systems is used more and optimally instead of being affected by maintenance work.

To achieve this the Lean Maintenance System provides effective methods and approaches. In other words, zero maintenance time does not mean stopping maintenance altogether.

In many companies, maintenance is a constant tightrope walk between guaranteeing adequate system availability on the one hand and the economic efficiency of the production systems, which should not be burdened unnecessarily, on the other. This is because in a lot of companies the maintenance strategies and the organization developed historically. There is no precise orientation to the production system and its requirements. This is where the Lean Maintenance System steps in.

In the Lean Maintenance System you will progress through a four-step process, so that at the end you are closer to having a value stream-oriented maintenance organization and your goal of "zero maintenance time:":

1st Step: Prioritize systems
For each sub-system in a production system, assess the effects of a potential breakdown. Three criteria are used for this: the production system, the value stream, and the customers. The type of effect then determines which priority category the system is allocated to. This system classification is used to define recommended actions for the maintenance strategy.

Critical systems with high priority are given most attention. They are examined in detail, so that a component-specific maintenance strategy can be developed and optimized with the “zero maintenance time” concept.

2nd Step: Classify damage categories
To develop a component-specific maintenance strategy the components of a system are broken down into so-called damage categories. Then, an assessment is made of how damage affects the system operation, whether damage can be foreseen, and how often it occurs. On the basis of this assessment the individual components are classified in damage categories, and component-specific maintenance strategies are developed. Damage categories are also associated with recommended actions for maintenance and keeping a stock of spare parts.

3rd Step: Develop a concept
When system-specific maintenance concepts are being developed, a distinction is made between critical and uncritical systems. Depending on the priority classification, a precisely coordinated plan of action is drawn up which takes account of the system priority, the damage category priority, and the fault clearance time.

4th Step: Develop an organization
When the actions and concepts for the systems have been defined, the organization can then be derived. To do this, the activities are structured and the capacities calculated. The individual results for the various systems are used to calculate the number of employees required for central and decentralized maintenance teams and a pool of specialists on a unit level.

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Dec 10, 2011

Two Trends in Quality Control

In production, quality control has long become a part of management system, a tool to help manager examine and control the product quality. However, because the characteristics of recognition and belief differ from country to country, each quality control method, therefore, has its own approach and effect. Most outstanding of all are the two trends, the two approaches in Quality Control in Japan - the US and in Western Europe.

1. The former trend:

Started from the belief that Quality management is a matter of technology which is decided by technical standards and requirements, materials, machines, technology.... therefore, to control the quality, people base on Statistical Quality Control (SQC) and apply automatic examination tools in and after production time. To make basis for comparison, people create quality standards for the products and unify testing methods. Thereafter, take tests to evaluate the decree of compliance of the product with those standards or technical requirements. On basis of the test results, the product quality will be decided to be satisfactory or dissatisfactory.

In this trend, Quality Control methods are formed such as QC (Quality Control), Product Quality Examination and TQC (Total QC). In production system, there are employees trained to examine the product quality - who work independently and specially.

2. The latter trend:

Differing from the above belief, the second trend assumes that QC by examining and removing defect products will be unable to avoid mistakes. Examination does not create Quality but the whole process does, from design phase, production phase to consumption phase. The quality must be assured in every phase, every work and must involve every employee in the organization.

Therefore, to control the quality according to this trend, people must consider Quality Assurance to be their main duty. This duty is done by regular and planned activities of senior managers. Quality Assurance must be started with being set as a main goal of the company. After being publicly introduced about Quality Improvement Programs, all the employees will do researches to find best ways to fulfill their duties. As a result, in companies following this trend, there are many Quality Movements with the participation of all the employees.

Management methods following this trend can be deeply humanistic, such as TQM (Total Quality Management), TQCo (Total Quality Commitment) and CWQI (Company Wide Quality Improvement). With these methods, people can make best use of the human resource in the company, and the result is that not only the product quality is assured but also the business operations are improved.

Above are the two most important trends in QC in the world. These 2 trends are formed throughout the process of consciousness about relevant matters to Quality and have been verified for over 40 years of application as basis for QC in many countries. However, which trend and which model to be selected depends on many specific conditions of each company, each country and each requirement from reality.

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