The InfinityQS Enact® Ecosystem:
It’s all about Interrelationships
I was reading an interesting article the other day about various ecosystems on the earth and how we’re affecting them. And it got me thinking about how the InfinityQS products interact, and exist with, other products and systems. And that got me thinking about Enact®, of course. I’m always thinking about Enact®…
What’s in an ecosystem? I poked around online and found that Encyclopedia Britannica states that an ecosystem is a “complex of living organisms, their physical environment, and all their interrelationships in a particular unit of space.”
For a manufacturing quality system, like the InfinityQS Enact® Quality Intelligence platform, powered by real-time Statistical Process Control (SPC), the “complex of living organisms” (ok, maybe they’re not actually alive…) includes its visual interface (which includes dashboards, process models, notifications, and more), all of the Enact® engines and core design elements (like part recipes, production assignments, etc.), the physical environment includes the cloud (in which it resides), the centralized data storage and handling (a direct result of living in the cloud), and the delivery architecture (Microsoft Azure, and all that good stuff). The part that resonates most with me is the interrelationships; this is the best part of Enact® and the most subtle.
Let me just say this, before we get down to the nuts and bolts of the Enact® ecosystem: it is all about the interrelationships. There are many moving parts in any enterprise system (obviously) but Enact® is designed to make manufacturing quality control straightforward, via its visual interface, its underlying logic, and its role-based permissions. I was very careful in choosing the word straightforward because I want to be very clear: building any comprehensive system requires thought and sweat equity. However, a well-designed system will be easy to deploy, expand, and maintain. With InfinityQS’ Enact®, your upfront thought and work is rewarded when you deploy and expand. How is this possible? The interrelationships. Allow me to explain…
A Visual Experience—an Interface that Works for You
Let’s begin our deep dive into the Enact® Quality Intelligence platform’s ecosystem by delving into its visual interface. The process model is the perfect place to start.
When you describe your manufacturing operation in a process model, you connect components, operations, processes, features, and data collections to create a holistic illustration that mirrors your real-life operations. You essentially create a visual representation of the required operations to produce a variety of products, perhaps even your entire line of products, just like if you were explaining it to someone at a white board. The picture is great, but it’s the interrelationships that are key.
PROCESS MODELS ACCELERATE DEPLOYMENT
Process models speed up deployments because many manufacturers perform the same operations to make products across multiple production lines and sites. The Enact® process model is designed to promote reuse, help ensure standardization, and ease deployment.
How does the process model do this? Imagine you’ve already built a process model to describe one of your key manufacturing operations. Expanding Enact® to a new manufacturing site is as simple as adding the site’s processes to the existing process model. How can this be? Interrelationships (are you picking up a theme here?). I’ll describe more later but suffice it to say for now that Enact® dashboards aren’t tediously created. If you tell a dashboard you want data collections, Enact® immediately knows—based on a user’s role, their visibility, your process models, and other items—exactly which data collections to put on the dashboard for the signed-in user. This means that the same dashboard can be used by many users in many roles. Not a copy of the dashboard, that exact dashboard.
Tailored, Role-Based Dashboards and Notifications
Too much data makes it difficult for users to filter out the noise and focus on the priorities they need to pay attention to. Enact’s highly-visual user experience streamlines delivery of the specific information that each user needs. Users simply tell the system what they’re responsible for, and the system surfaces everything for them, telling them what data needs to be collected, when, and where. How is this done? Interrelationships. Enact knows a user’s role, what data they can see and even what they are working on at that specific moment to provide only the relevant information.
Enact® and its visual dashboards are available on any device, including smartphones and tablets. Dashboards comprise a collection of tiles, which can be arranged to show individual users the precise data they need.
After a dashboard has been created, users with different roles and access levels can customize it to meet their needs. Each user can tailor the analysis to specifically what they are looking for (assuming they have the permissions, of course) and pick up where they left off the next time they return to the dashboard without affecting the dashboard for other users. Enact® offers this level of flexibility so organizations can reap the benefits of standardized analysis while giving users the tools they need to improve the quality of processes and products for which they are responsible.
Living in the Cloud
Let’s continue our examination of the Enact® ecosystem by looking at where it lives, its natural habitat, the cloud. Because it’s a cloud-based system, there’s no need for a significant up-front investment in hardware or a large software installation when you’re talking about Enact®. Enact® is easy to deploy and configure, and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model supports easy scalability as needs change. Pay only for what you need, and expand/contract your deployment as your business needs evolve.
The Enact® Quality Intelligence platform also offers advantages in backup and maintenance. There are no costly, time-consuming upgrades with Enact®. Instead, automatic updates add functionality as new features become available. And there’s no need to worry about on-site hardware failure. Enact® provides redundancy that offers peace of mind regarding availability and performance.
Centralized Data Brings Everything Together
Bringing all your data together in a centralized data repository is game-changing for manufacturers. Regardless of the data source, Enact® stores all your data in a central, cloud-based repository from which it can be configured, aggregated, analyzed, and compared. Centralized data can be analyzed in aggregate across the company and compared between lines, departments, and sites, to optimize insight into manufacturing operations.
The importance of centralization cannot be overstated. Without a centralized data repository, companies can’t compare results from different departments, sites, or regions (without having to combine data from various systems and match their various formats).
Enact® centralized data handling “engines” enable manufacturers to get the same value out of data, from any source. If the same data is collected manually and with automated equipment, the data is consistently analyzed based on the established rules. The benefit is that the same results can be achieved from different sources.
Since centralized engines handle this analysis, the equipment sending the data does not have to be able to perform the analysis and calculations, send notifications, or complete other processing. This means that even your legacy equipment can provide value for advanced analysis and notification.
Whether you’re working with sites around the world, or departments within a single site, ensuring that everyone is on the same page is critical. Maintaining those rules is difficult if your enterprise is spread across sites, regions, or countries. With a centralized set of rules and configurations, companies can do more with less.
Statistical Analysis at its very Finest
Statistical analysis, and the tools necessary to perform it well, is what InfinityQS is known for. To some manufacturers, analysis is just charts and graphs pinned to the wall in a conference room—to be used by specialists to plan long-term. To others, analysis is only a real-time shop-floor activity. Well, I’m here to say that it’s both.
What is the “go-to” real-time tool for SPC practitioners? Control charts! Before we think more about control charts, stop and think about human communication in the 20th century. Everything was done by letter… until there were telephones… and then email… and now we deal with shorthand notifications like texts, IMs, and badges in our favorite social media programs. What does this have to do with control charts?
Control charts are remarkable tools that have been used by manufacturers for decades to detect changes in processes and notify users before producing nonconforming product. Control charts used to be created on paper. Then software made it easy to generate them on a screen. What’s the next evolution? Not looking at control charts!
Hear me out on this one. What if instead of requiring a user to look at a chart to determine if an action should be taken, the user is told when criteria are met that require them to act. Enact® does this with stream summaries. I won’t get into details here, but stream summaries are a list of data streams (like a control chart) that are prioritized to the user based on those streams having issues. How does Enact® do this? Interrelationships. Enact® knows what data the user can see and what rules are important.
STREAM GRADING: LONG-TERM ANALYSIS
Identifying high- and low-performing production processes is a key challenge for any manufacturing enterprise. Enact® collects and unifies historical process and quality data and presents it so that anyone can compare production performance across all dimensions of the enterprise, locally as well as across multiple plants.
Enact® has traditional SPC tools like box-and-whisker plots and Pareto charts, but it also has a new tool called Stream Grading. Stream grading enables you to identify where the biggest potential gains are so you can quickly isolate cost-saving opportunities across all your manufacturing processes and facilities. By recording and comparing process variations, you can determine how to eliminate specific variations—enabling improved product quality and lower manufacturing costs at the same time.
Whatever your industry, the Enact® Quality Intelligence platform ecosystem provides focused, system-wide visibility, in-depth knowledge, strategic insight, and contextual understanding to support consistent process and quality improvement efforts. Manufacturers gain the power to prevent costly problems and waste, improve product yield and quality, and build customer loyalty and brand reputation.