As Part 1 explained, our QRM goals were ambitious. We hoped to overhaul our complete manufacturing workflow. How did it work? Well, at first, not very well.
For our first foray into QRM, we decided to set up just one cell. We chose our four strongest workers, introduced them to QRM strategies and gave them ownership of the cell. We intended for our hands-off approach to give employees ownership of the process. Instead, it left them feeling confused and resistant to the change. Moreover, since the QRM trial used the strongest employees, its work was often interrupted by needs from the rest of the floor. (Again, the “hero worker” problem.)
Despite resistance and the failure of our first attempt, we remained convinced that QRM could work for Videon. We set about analyzing what had gone wrong the first time, and modified our plan based on what we learned.
We chose employees who could be fully dedicated to the cell. We arranged the workflow before implementation, breaking each process into individual steps. We hired a tech writer to document instructions and make sure that every task was repeatable. And we worked alongside employees during implementation, troubleshooting in real time.
This time, it worked. Our team began to see the benefits of QRM. And now that we knew how to do it, converting the rest of the floor to QRM went smoothly. We saw many changes, including:
- one piece flow,
- increased flexibility,
- reduced planning time,
- lower defect rates,
- 100% OTD (now for 18 months running).
QRM was working, and we were exceeding, not just meeting, the goals we had set.
We were meeting our goals, but it didn’t take long before we started seeing more benefits to the QRM system. These unexpected changes have improved workflow, morale and quality.
Planning: Before, much of our scheduling came from intelligent guesses. Planning focused on touch time, but products spent significant time waiting between stations. Estimates were often inaccurate. With QRM, as soon as we have produced a given product we know how much time future orders will take. We schedule as we receive orders, and we remain flexible and able to meet shifting customer demands.
Capacity: Knowing exactly what one cell can produce means that we know what’s needed to add another cell. Person hours, materials, space and production capacity are now easy to estimate with accuracy. This makes our entire manufacturing process scalable.
Documentation: QRM pushed us to update our documentation. If everyone is going to be able to do a given task, it needs to be well defined and well documented. Creating instructions for each step of product assembly forced us optimize and standardize. And now, the comprehensive instructions serve as an ideal training tool.
Worker Education: We used to think that our hero workers were absolutely necessary. But our reliance on these few “experts” limited them. They could not be spared to work on new projects, and their time off was less flexible. QRM requires a cross-trained workforce. This has improved morale and reduced stress. Our success or failure no longer relies on a few key figures. Instead, everyone works together.
From Chaos to Unity
We believe Videon’s success with QRM is instructive. Recognizing our initial failure gave us the perspective needed to start over with better strategies. We hope it encourages others to do the same as they tackle the difficult task of changing manufacturing processes.
We also think our experience can teach others about the benefits of QRM. Anyone who has researched the system understands its main benefits: reduced defects, higher OTD, etc. But a specific case like ours reveals hidden benefits we didn’t even know to expect.
Overhauling our manufacturing floor hasn’t been easy, but it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made. It has created an efficient, productive and smooth process for a wide variety of technical products. Moreover, the process can be repeated, measured and replicated as needed. QRM has brought us from chaos to unity.
Have you tried QRM? Are you hoping to? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.