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The Repair Bay, Part 2: Why enhanced defect data management should be seen as a positive on the plant floor

Contributed by: Patrick Chabot - Manufacturing IT Manager

In our previous post, we talked about the benefits of adopting the data collection, management and analytics tools that allow a production line to turn its repair bay into a defect data management station that drives continuous improvement.

But it takes more than tools and processes. It takes buy-in all the way from the corner office to the plant floor. Fail to get the frontline workers onboard and this investment may be wasted. As the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” The success of a new software implementation such as this rests with how consistently and completely staff input crucial data.

But people can be funny creatures. They may be inclined to respond negatively if they believe their capability or worth ethic is under scrutiny.

The risk for management is that a new system is perceived as a form of “big brother.” And it is true that new levels of data will be collected and correlated – such as which individuals operated which station during a given production shift when faulty parts were showing up in the repair bay.

Our intention is not to cost anyone their job or subject them to undue stress. Knowing who had their hand at the controls is important intel to have. It might reveal a need for additional training or point to some other personnel issue. It’s part and parcel with continuous process and quality improvement.

It’s up to management to engage front-line workers with honest dialogue. Help frontline workers understand how this technology investment is to everyone’s benefit, to make their place of work more efficient and competitive. It is an investment meant to contribute to job security, not insecurity.

Change, particularly technological change, tends to come slowly in many parts of the manufacturing industry. If you create a workplace culture where people feel like they have a stake, a sense of ownership, in the organization’s performance and success, the fear of change loses its teeth.

In the final post, Part 3: A day in the life, we get into the day-to-day of implementing and operating this kind of repair bay management system.