How Good Is Your Process?


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Everyone has a process, how much you can derive from it depends on how robust your process is. Ask someone in the military and they can tell you all about process and SOP with all the acronyms you can handle. Practically everything has a SOP written out and those expected to follow it are drilled on it, but it doesn’t make it necessarily a good process.

Traditionally, the moldmaking business tended to be much less structured and relied upon the individual craftsman to take care of the details of every facet of the mold build process. As we have progressed from mold builders to mold manufacturers and encountered the need to compete globally, the need for a structured process has become paramount. Process must be examined for every business aspect—from the quote to receipt of final payment for the tool.

At IMTS this year I heard a statement that got me thinking, “The process for the things we can see is easy, but the process for the things we cannot see is hard and is more important.”

I believe this to be a very profound statement that was referring to the underlying accuracy and repeatability of machinery and the need to include process to check not only the machinery, but also a process to inspect the inspection tools with which we check the machine. I believe this can be applied to all our processes.

It’s easy to see the tooling, speeds, feeds, peck depths, fixtures, setup procedures, inspection procedures, paperwork and the million other visible tasks within our processes, both on the shop floor and in the office. What are difficult to see and measure in our process are communication, understanding, sustainability, reliability and utilization.

Is there a measurement in place to ensure you are using the process? Is there something in place to measure the understanding and effectiveness of your process? Are the measures you are using to check the process valid? If you did not answer yes to these questions, it is safe to say there is room to improve.

I believe that by looking past the things we can see in our process by using measurements that gauge the effectiveness of what we say we do; we will find significant improvements that have been overlooked. They were hidden from us by what we don’t see.