In the past year, Chenault Systems developed a system in FoxPro® for General Magnetic that automates the quality assurance phase of the manufacturing of magnetic components. This system greatly reduced the time QA lab technicians require for measuring test samples.
Before the system was developed, General Magnetic had the burdensome problem of having to maintain handwritten logs of samples; the logs included calculations, such as specific gravity, which were done by hand. Now the technicians simply enter ID codes into a FoxPro® database. A simplified menuing system allows the entry of data and calculations are performed automatically. Additionally, a scale for weighing the sample is attached to the PC, allowing the sample's weight to be added to the database with the touch of a key.
General Magnetic personnel feel that at least one person has been freed up for other work because of the new system. Also, a great deal of data is easy to access for ad hoc analysis and trends.
According to Gary Ricks, process engineer, "We were very pleased with the way the Chenault people approached this project. They had a proposal that defined the expectations of the system. They worked closely together with us. The final product was done on time and under the cost projection. In other words, they exceeded our expectations of increasing the efficiency of our operations."
Please excuse the common expression, but this project is a good example of how little things can mean a lot. This project was relatively small, approximately one hundred hours. Yet, it paid immediate dividends, with an estimated savings of one employee's effort. At minimum wage, this system would pay for itself in less than six months if only the employee's wages are taken into account.
The system offers benefits in addition to monetary ones. A database of information is being created, which will allow reporting in the future. Data inaccuracy is diminished as handwritten information no longer has to be deciphered. Calculations are being done by the system, eliminating another area for human error.
It is normal to look at the large processes within a company to increase efficiency and reduce cost, but often changes in these processes are costly and time consuming to implement, and the savings take time to realize. We at Chenault Systems have found that great savings can be made by automating the "little" processes, just as General Magnetic has done. We encourage you to take the time to look at these processes in your own company. If they are repetitive and done frequently, it is possible that an automated solution can pay dividends in a short time frame.
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