Sahrmann, Herman F. (1987, ASQC) 3M Canada Inc., London, Ontario
Information, when used correctly, can lead to significant improvements in quality and productivity. As the pace of introducing new products increases, the ability to manage information assumes greater importance in reducing the time required to go from design concept to production. As production processes shift from "manual" to "knowledge based", the road to improvement is often blocked through our failure to realize that capital investment in new manufacturing equipment creates a similar need for investment in information. Improvements in quality and productivity can always be linked to better information incorporated into the new automated "knowledge based" system and not automation alone.The author's experience at a modern adhesive tape plant will be used to illustrate the excellent gains in improvement that can result from an organizational climate that encourages the use of information. The key to success is management support of multi-departmental teams, time for training and time to study the processes. Initial failure to improve the process could be linked to the lack of demand for analysis, rather than the lack of capability to do analysis.With the plant manager's stated objective "to develop knowledge of process and equipment parameters and cause/effect relationships" as a mandate to work on the processes, the multi-departmental team went to work. Within six months a visiting management team from headquarters reported that "the team approach to studying the process has provided excellent results. Tremendous improvements in waste reduction have resulted."None of the statistical techniques used were new, but what was new was management's demand for analysis and information on such a scale. Ultimately, excellence of information will lead to excellence of control and, thus, excellence of the finished product.
Chemical and process industries