Create Intelligent SOPs with VKS Using the DMAIC Approach

By: Berenice Mengo

April 27, 2021

DMAIC approach

The DMAIC approach is one of the best methodologies available to comprehensively and continuously improve your operations. This five-step process is a powerful data-driven tool that enables businesses to continually improve their processes in a well-defined and structured framework.

A key area to enact the DMAIC approach is with your SOPs and work instructions. Manufacturing processes and procedures need to be constantly improved as new methods and technology are discovered. With a purpose-built system that intelligently tracks your KPIs and more, keeping your process documentation up to date and tailored to your needs is fast and simple.

Use the DMAIC approach and VKS to collaborate with your end-users, create intelligent documentation, and continuously improve!

What are Intelligent SOPs?

An SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is a set of step-by-step instructions that help workers carry out routine operations. It is the standard sequence of actions or instructions to be followed when solving a problem or accomplishing a task.

Intelligent SOPs take this functionality a few steps further. With process instructions in a digital format, your documentation does not get dirty or out-of-date; unlike paper instructions. This makes it easy for your employees to always have the clearest and most up-to-date directions.

Along with enabling greater compliance, digital SOPs also track and monitor your KPIs(Key Performance Indicators). As operators perform their daily tasks, work instruction software communicates with other systems, equipment, and tools to collect valuable performance data.

This data enables you to have your finger on the pulse of your operation and continually improve your workflow. Intelligent SOPs and work instruction software sets up the structure for greater compliance and advanced manufacturing.

But now we need to explore how to create smart documentation that aligns with your business strategies and goals. Using methods such as the DMAIC approach will enable you to create the most effective and intelligent SOPs.

What is the DMAIC Approach?

DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. The DMAIC approach is used by manufacturers to optimize their existing workflow and accurately implement improvement continuously. This process guides the identification of problems, analyzes route causes, and implements best practices within your factory.

DMAIC Approach

Let's take a step-by-step look at the DMAIC approach to building intelligent SOPs. We’ll go over key methodologies and useful tips to get you started.

Step 1 - Define the Process

Phase 1: Understand the Process

Spend time on your shop floor and collaborate closely with people who work directly in or with the process. By taking the time to observe and interact with the operation, you will gain a keen understanding of the processes and procedures that are currently being performed.

Talk with your operators. They have loads of practical and beneficial information on the strengths and weaknesses of an operation. Later, you’ll use what you’ve learned to make your work instructions accurate and valuable to the people who will use them.

Phase 2: Understand the Audience

Your audience can shift depending on the process or procedure being performed. And you might have multiple audiences looking at the same SOP. With this in mind, it is helpful to consider who will be using the instructions.

Your primary audience is the people who will read and execute the work. Understanding their base of knowledge as well as their strengths and weaknesses will go a long way in creating clear and concise instructions.

Your secondary audience is the quality/engineering team who will be interested in ensuring that the instructions accurately depict the process as it was designed. They will also be interested in the data collected to monitor and implement process improvements.

Pro Tip: The practices behind the Gemba Walk are effective tools and methodologies to understanding what actually happens on your shop floor. It provides useful information and a safe space for employees to share their thoughts.

Step 2 - What Do You Want to Measure?

For this step, we want to measure the process and record the baseline performance. This is about collecting data to ascertain problem areas that need to be fixed. Measuring the current performance of a process will enable you to make the appropriate goals for improvement.

For SOPs and work instructions, you’ll mainly measure 3 separate activities:

  • Quality Control: This will need to be measured on two levels.

    • Individual errors: What was the cause of a particular problem or defect?
    • Frequency: How often are quality errors occurring?

Our work instruction software helps automate all of these activities so that all valuable information is always at your disposal.

  • Productivity: Output monitoring should be seamless and flexible from a reporting standpoint. Determine the Key Performance Indicators for your operation and build your custom dashboard within VKS. This will enable you to constantly monitor your processes in real-time.

  • Traceability / Accountability: Visibility to the Who, What, When, and Where can be critical to accountability and root cause analysis. Plan where you will need sign-offs, confirmations, and other traceable points of reference.

Pro Tip: Use SPC control charts to effectively measure the health of your process.

Step 3 - Analyze the Process

This step is about analyzing the situation, finding the root cause of issues, and developing a plan for improvement. This can be done in the following steps:

  • List potential problems and perform root cause analysis.
  • Prioritize problems with the biggest impact on performance.
  • Create detailed process maps to further identify and follow the effect of the root cause.

process analysis

This period of analysis is another great opportunity to talk with operators and engineers. Or look back at what you learned in Step 1: Define the Process. Make sure your analysis is not too far off from their observations. If there is a discrepancy, then open a dialogue to discuss why the data analysis points in a specific direction.

Collaboration is again essential for proper analysis and identification. This is the last step before the actual creation and deployment of the documentation.

Step 4 - Improve Your Process Documentation

This is where you begin developing and/or improving your work instructions and SOPs. It is critical to work with both Operators and the Engineering team to build more effective and intuitive work instructions.

It is a good idea to first focus on the simplest problems and solutions. These are the ones that are the most apparent. By improving these areas first, you have a good structure for other improvements that may be less obvious.

Pro Tip: As you’re working with the VKS application, take pictures, videos, and other multimedia material that will make your procedure visual and interactive.

Step 5 - Control and Sustain The New Documentation

The Control step is where you see if your documented process works. Are people executing the instructions as presented? Is the process sustainable?

Repeat the first 4 cycles (Define - Measure - Analyse - Improve) as many times as necessary until your process performs to your standards. Then use the DMAIC approach to continually improve your processes and their documentation.

Enforce compliance on the shop floor by ensuring that your employees are using the work instructions during the process. This will ensure that the best methods are being performed and recorded.

With your intelligent SOPs, gathering the right information from people, procedures, and equipment is easy. This will enable you to continuously improve and make informed decisions.

Start Creating Intelligent SOPs With VKS

By using our work instruction software, your company can enact the DMAIC approach with ease and greater influence. You can build successful SOPs by making them visual and intelligent, and enhance procedural compliance by providing easy-to-use SOPs that operators will understand and enjoy.

You can achieve higher levels of productivity, quality, and efficiency by displaying your SOPs in a digital format with our user-friendly and intuitive interface.

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