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Republic Manufacturing Decreases Inspection Times by 75%

November 17, 2022

Republic Manufacturing Decreases Inspection Times by 75%

Building quality products is about more than using the best materials. It's about equipping your whole operation and workforce with the right tools and methods to achieve consistency and sustainability. Most importantly, quality is about providing value for both the customer and the company.

Companies like Republic Manufacturing understand the importance of quality manufacturing and how work instruction software pushes quality to a new level.

Republic Manufacturing, a world-class producer of industrial blowers and vacuum pumps, is leading the way in advancing the quality standards of the industry. Since 1962, they have been pushing the boundaries of modern manufacturing, leading them to design and create their own line of advanced products that continue to bring innovation to the industrial market.

We had the opportunity to speak with Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality. He gave us his keen perspective on how VKS has helped them improve their quality methods, inspection processes, and workforce capabilities while moving away from paper processes.

4 Ways Republic Manufacturing Innovated Their Quality Inspection Process

Among the benefits that digital work instructions have brought to Republic Manufacturing, their most notable improvement has been within their inspection processes. Lee remarked on his inspiration when he first saw the capabilities VKS had to offer.

“When I saw VKS, I thought: ‘That’s it!’ I can easily use this software, take pictures, and then highlight important things that we have to make sure we’re inspecting while also recording data as we go along.”

Lee Punnett

Lee Punnett

Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

Using VKS and their own ingenuity, Lee and his team have implemented 4 methods that allow Republic Manufacturing to experience higher quality standards, greater productivity, and decreased total inspection time.

1. Double the Inspections in a Fraction of the Time

To maintain the highest levels of quality for their customers, Republic Manufacturing's inspection process is twofold. While assembling the product, operators record quality data and perform inspections on their work. Once the unit is completed, Quality Control inspectors run through the key inspection points to verify and ensure the product is ready to go to the customer.

Although this ensures that they get quality with each assembly, it still created a problem. This process takes time if not using advanced methods. And prior to using VKS, these inspection reports were filled out on paper, which adds more complications to the procedure.

“Assembly operators were filling out papers by hand and then handing them off to QC. Then QC would go over the same information and validate it. Now with VKS, we've turned that process into operators doing a self-inspection as they go. When they’re done, the inspector just goes through and reviews the information. Our inspectors would normally spend an hour inspecting something and now with VKS, they are down to 15 minutes. Plus, our inspections got way better because of VKS!”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

Under their new system, quality control inspection times have decreased by an astounding 75%.

The ability to shave off three-quarters of inspection time is a big win for Republic Manufacturing.

2. The Power of Pictures

Here at VKS, we often tout how pictures and strong visuals help operators and other personnel quickly assimilate complex knowledge. And this is no different for inspectors. Lee and his team use pictures to accurately show their personnel the key inspection points that are important to their customers.

“VKS and the pictures we use ensure that our inspectors are looking at the key points that are important to our customers”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

This use of strong visuals within their work instructions enables Republic Manufacturing to ensure that the proper inspection points are reviewed in the right way. Inspectors follow their visual guidebooks and know what to look for every step of the way.

power of pictures

3. Quality Data That Works

One of the key benefits of paperless instructions and inspections is that all the data is stored digitally.

Quality data such as serial numbers, torque specifications, and belt tensions are easy to access and impossible to lose.

With every inspection, Republic Manufacturing stores the collected data within VKS and ties the information to each product serial number. With this information, Lee and his team are able to share valuable quality information and detailed product histories with customers. Lee remarked that their customers appreciate this level of insight and service.

“For some of our customers, we export the VKS data and send it directly to them. They want the VKS reports because they receive the data and it verifies the inspection requirements. Our customers save time when receiving our product by having this information.”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

Republic Manufacturing no longer needs to worry about misplaced papers or lost quality data in transport. If any customer wants the specific quality data, Republic Manufacturing is able to quickly pull it up, send the data over, and/or verify any production point.

This level of data access and retrieval not only provides a new level of quality control and assurance. it also provides amazing customer service and dedication.

4. Training The Next Generation Now

When it comes to quality inspections, one of the most important factors is the people. They need to be skilled, attentive to detail, and properly trained.

Often, this can be difficult for many mixed-model manufacturers, as Lee confirmed. For their team, it's common to see one fan assembly one day and then not see that same product for a couple of months. And when product changes and variations occur frequently, it can be unreasonable to expect assembly operators and inspectors to remember the proper mode of operation for each product line.

In light of this, Republic Manufacturing leverages VKS to ensure that their people have the right tools and information before beginning their inspections, which has major positive effects on training.

“We have taken weeks off of the training process. Now it's all in VKS, which has helped reduce the training times of our inspectors by a tremendous amount.”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

With detailed inspection guidebooks that outline every step of the inspection process for each unit, there is virtually zero risk of an inspector forgetting to check something over. New inspectors get out on the floor sooner because VKS is guiding them every step of the way.

republic manufacturing

The system gives greater confidence to employees, boosts morale, and ensures quality is at its best every time.

3 More Benefits Republic Manufacturing Has Seen From VKS

Ok, so enough about quality control. How about the other sectors where Republic Manufacturing has seen growth and positive change? Let’s explore the other key ways Lee and his team have leveraged VKS within their operation to achieve high levels of excellence.

1. Integrated Error Proofing

Have you heard the expression “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”?

At Republic Manufacturing, they have taken this idea to heart and introduced some advanced ways to prevent errors before they have the chance to cause any issues.

Under the old paper methods, if something like belt tension was outside the specified range, there was nothing to stop the operator from recording the faulty belt tension and moving on to the next step.

In light of this realization, Republic Manufacturing adds the proper tolerance values into each work instruction. Operators record the quality data as they assemble the product. If the operator enters a value outside the specified range, VKS will alert the operator and block them from moving on to the next step.

“Now the system doesn’t let them make mistakes and proceed. This is incredibly important to us.”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

This level of error-proofing is a massive step forward for the shop floor. Even when employees need to shift to an unfamiliar production line, the work instructions guide them through the process.

2. Employees Enjoy Using the Paperless Process

As VKS rolls out in more and more departments, Republic Manufacturing employees are progressively seeing the benefits of the system and enjoy using it.

Before using VKS, employees would look at paper blueprints of 400-500 pieces. These blueprints were very high-level, meaning they weren’t easy to understand. Because of this, the processes relied on memory and experience, which doesn't allow for workforce flexibility or easy cross training.

Additionally, operators would record their quality data on a paper sheet, which added another physical inefficiency to the mix.

Now with VKS, these paper processes are a thing of the past. Assembly operators follow detailed instructions through a visual platform that gives them the information they need while also enabling them to record pertinent information on the go.

Condensing several pieces of paper into one system has been a huge plus for the employees. It empowers them to have access to more knowledge than previously thought possible.

“We rolled VKS out in our departments and it got rid of a lot of manual paperwork. Also, I get comments like ‘I’m glad we have VKS because I would have forgotten to do that particular step if I didn’t see it on the instructions.”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

3. Simplified Mixed-Model Manufacturing

As a mixed model manufacturer that builds various high-tech centrifugal blowers, vacuum pumps, compressors, air knives, motors, and more, Republic Manufacturing has plenty of processes. Lee relayed that some of their core products have 15 different options, which introduce a lot of variation to each process.

However, by leveraging the VKS Rule Engine, Lee and his team built templates for each product line with specific rules. It may sound complex but it’s very simple.

An operator receives a work ticket for a specific assembly that details the required parts and the product information. The operator then opens the VKS guidebook for the product line and VKS will ask the operator questions during assembly. These questions can be like the following:

  • Does the product have a motor?
  • What voltage does the unit require?

Based on how the operator responds, VKS guides them to the required next step, allowing each work instruction template to be dynamic to the work order, significantly simplifying a complex process.

“This was one of the things that we really wanted in work instruction software. And VKS makes it so that one template covers a wide range of products. When you have big assemblies, VKS just makes the whole process a lot simpler.”

Lee Punnett, Republic Manufacturing’s VP of Quality

The Story Is Far from Over

republic manufacturing

Achieving the highest levels of quality starts with giving your people the right tools and knowledge. Republic Manufacturing has made some incredible strides to do just that, and they show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Lee and his team plan to implement VKS ToolConnect in the near future. With the application of smart tools, this feature applies the correct torque values to an assembly unit while automatically recording data for quality control. This verified process will be another advancement toward error-proofing their operation while further decreasing the amount of time spent on inspections.

Republic Manufacturing’s vision goes even further with plans to integrate VKS Enterprise with their ERP as well, enabling them to gather information, knowledge, and insight from all areas of their operation.

VKS is proud to work with innovative companies like Republic Manufacturing that simultaneously push the boundaries of quality and productivity.

Find out how Cleavland State Universityis training the next generation of manufacturers with VKS