Manufacturers purchase new metrology equipment for a variety of reasons — to improve product quality, increase throughput or reduce operator intervention. Often it is because they believe new machines are necessary to remain competitive. However, simply installing new equipment is not enough. Here Mike John, managing director of industrial metrology specialist The Sempre Group, argues why the industry should shift its focus from equipment to the intended outcome.
When I query British manufacturers about their motivations to invest in new equipment, it’s common to receive a generic response or a vague notion about improving productivity. If we were to take this answer as gospel and sell them a machine, when our team checked in a few months after installation, we wouldn’t have a happy customer. Why? Because without defining a specific outcome, you cannot achieve it.
Time to reflect
As we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the manufacturing industry must take a hard look at itself. To remain competitive, businesses must adapt and find specific, tangible ways to drive operations and growth. Technology will always play a large role in improving productivity, but at a time when manufacturers want to cut costs, how can we make sure that all equipment purchased adds real value to production?
Ask the right questions
Every business will be familiar with its own challenges and pain points. But it is much more challenging to define them in a tangible, practical way — particularly when you do not know the full scope of equipment on the market and the individual benefits of each platform. Suppliers, on the other hand, do. By coming up with a specific list of pain points and collaborating with equipment experts, both parties can build the best solution together.
It is important to note that when purchasing equipment, companies should consider more than the initial cost. Selecting a low-cost machine may seem like a better option at the time of purchase, but real value comes from using equipment to its full potential. Tying back to the pain points, if one is a manual measurement bottleneck slowing down processes, time literally is money.
Purchasing equipment is not the final step to achieving an outcome — businesses must take the time to implement and operate the equipment effectively. For example, when installing metrology equipment, it is important to make sure that systems are fully calibrated so that measurements are valid. Equipment suppliers will also often provide bespoke training sessions to ensure the team understands how to operate the equipment to its full potential independently, to ensure the most efficient and useful results.
Once it is fully operating, equipment will start to collect data, and the answers to many manufacturers’ problems often lie here. Operators can integrate all quality management into one unified electronic quality management system (EQMS), improving reporting, storing and handling of product quality data. Manufacturers can review the data to gain a true insight into production and make more informed decisions about what will add value to their operations. Identifying more pain points and challenges to actively solve, brings infinitely more value out of the equipment, making it far more than a shiny new toy.
While technology is fundamental to helping the British and Irish manufacturing industry up its game, purchasing equipment alone is not enough. It’s time we understood that metrology equipment doesn’t just exist to police part quality and shouldn’t be kept sheltered at the end of the line, a far sight away from production.
We must move away from adopting the latest technologies just because we think we should — truly improving productivity requires a change in our mindset. By establishing the specifics of what we want to achieve from digitalisation and creating an action plan, manufacturers can create real value from their purchases.
To find out how you can fully adopt and integrate effective quality management into your manufacturing process, call +44 (0)1452 632712 visit www.TheSempreGroup.com.