Just as important as having all of the latest equipment and technology in your shop is making sure the lines of communication in your shop are as open as they can be so ideas can be easily shared. To that end, there are a number of software programs out there that can streamline the flow of information—simplifying data exchange and thus ensuring leadtimes are met.
Productivity software (Mindjet® MindManager) for visualizing and manag-ing information, allowing individuals and teams to more effectively think, plan and collaborate from Mindjet Corporation (San Francisco, CA) enables users to visually connect and synthesize ideas and information to improve decision making, shorten business planning processes and harness the intellectual capital in their organizations.
According to Hobart Swan, External Affairs Manager, this productivity software affords moldmaking facilities many advantages, including:
- Powerful visual aid for problem solving, root-cause diagramming
- Enables high-speed, fishbone-like diagramming
- Captures wide range of information types in one interface
- Enables detailed project communication across departments (visual interface quickly understood by broad range of people)
- Users can quickly map out model processes using Mindjet’s productivity software, then export to a diagramming application such as Visio for rapid flow charting
- Ability to export maps as Web pages enables teams to share project details online
The product line provides a flexible, creative way for users to capture, organize and share information intuitively in maps. “Using this productivity software allows companies to manage projects better, which will improve business overall—particularly in the areas of more efficient use of time and better strategic planning,” Swan summarizes.
When a major electrical connector manufacturer used this software in its Six Sigma process to solve an injection molding challenge, it took one week to solve a decade-old problem with a plastics-production issue known as short shots that was affecting both product quality and delivery. “We decided to conduct a Six Sigma project to get to the root of the problem,” says the company’s Senior Quality Assurance Engineer.
Using the software, the company assembled a team of eight to address the inconsistency of short shots, which resulted in an incomplete fill of the mold that also increased scrap levels and affected starting times. As part of the Six Sigma process, the engineer notes he normally used fishbone diagrams—images that convey cause and effect via a complex diagram. Unfortunately, these diagrams are time-consuming and complicated to use.
Instead, the team used this new breed of mind-mapping software. “Everyone was able to participate in the Six Sigma process without the huge ramp-up that learning and understanding fishbone diagramming requires,” the engineer notes.
The engineer used a laptop to begin the process by inputting all the feedback from the team into a visual mind map. They methodically explored all possible causes for the short shot while he entered the information into the mind mapping software’s map.
“In one day, we captured the overall picture,” he recalls. “We then spent the remaining days focusing on tooling, materials and so on until we went through all the potential problems. We were able to quickly move data from one branch to another. It was very intuitive and didn’t require any training.”
The team was quickly able to isolate the root cause, which turned out to be a defect in the mold material itself. Furthermore, the team was able to identify other areas where better controls and processes could increase efficiency while decreasing waste.
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