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Control Your Process Instead of Product Quality

By Anurag Venkat, Founder, Vinion Consultancy

Today, the primary objective of any business is to make profits. The Key Process Indicators (KPIs) of manufacturing, production, logistics, commercial, inventory and other areas of a business must be integrated with the financials to allow the enterprise owners to create a strategy of growth for the years to come. While a few years ago, product quality was the selling point for any business, now the rules of the game have changed. Quality has become the unspoken need of the business. The mere mention of ‘good quality’ raises eyebrows. Why is it so? How did the business viewpoint change so drastically? The answer is Analytics!

Optimization concepts such as Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen have been in the market for almost 40 years now. However, most of this has still not been explored completely owing to the sheer expertise and experience required for the execution of these principles. The emergence of Data Analytics and the possibility of integrating these concepts directly with the machines has opened a new dimension to be explored. Any industry professional with basic statistical experience can also use these principles to optimize the processes because the majority of the work is executed using the algorithms.

In today’s world, every business is built on three pillars - Time, Flexibility and Cost. Quality, while being the most essential ingredient for success is often taken for granted. The definition of these pillars changes according to the nature of the business. From a manufacturing point of view, time can be denoted as the lead time for assembly of the product which will be connected to the time taken for the product to enter the market. Flexibility can be the option of return if the customer is not satisfied and cost can be the price of the product which is dependent on the manufacturing process. Observed carefully, all three pillars can be directly integrated to the financials of a business.

With efficient use of data, not only today’s process can be controlled but also the future process pattern can be identified based on which business investments can be planned

Controlling the process allows businesses to directly influence the above mentioned pillars. On the other hand, quality control of the product is an added cost. Once a product is built, it’s already too late if defects are identified because every improvement will be an added cost on the product. Quality control will cater to the customers in a better way but may have a damaging effect on the business financials. In turn, controlling the process itself guarantees a defect-free product on the first attempt.

If process control is outplaying quality control in every aspect of business, then why are all the enterprises not implementing this system? It is because it impacts two of the three pillars of business - Cost and Flexibilty.

Implementation of Process Control is an expensive undertaking. The workforce needs to be prepared and trained which does not come cheap and there is internal resistance. Human nature also does not allow changes easily. Application of this system ruffles a few feathers in an organisation because people would be asked to work outside their comfort zone. In 2019, I lead a team for implementing process control in a manufacturing unit. The company spent 48,000 Euros in 4 months. In return, the manufacturing unit registered an increased capacity of 500,000 Euros annually without any further investment. However, this return on investment is possible only if the enterprises adhere to the new process guidelines charted by the implementing team.

Undoubtedly, the business opportunities provided by process control outplays the challenges it imposes. With the advancements of technology, we are able to retrieve any type of required data for process control from the machines or work environments without human interference. Data backed enterprise management is the new ‘fad’. With efficient use of data, not only today’s process can be controlled but also the future process pattern can be identified based on which business investments can be planned. It is essential that businesses step up to spend time upfront to invest in systems and processes to make long-term growth sustainable. With Vinion Business Accelerator, we help companies to transform their businesses by integrating innovative strategies to their environment resulting in a boost of sales and reduced lead time of introducing products to the market.

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