It's a question that we are often asked, and a response that deserves some explaining. In HMC's years of experience implementing earlier versions of the Holistic Data System (HDS), many clients have questioned the need for a trigger. Why not report every stop, or record periods of below-average performance? The trigger line is necessary because it works as a filter, so we are not overwhelmed by too much information. By establishing a trigger for each module - and if necessary each brand - we can focus our attention on 'exceptional cause variation' and not clutter our analyses with data that simply represents the variability inherent in the process. Later we will work to improve process capability, but first we must identify and tackle the largest statistically significant problems.

Initially the trigger level is established for each module based on an analysis of historical performance - generally set to one standard deviation below mean performance, but for more sophisticated processes this could be much tighter. If the module performs below the trigger level in any given production interval, the Operator must enter a reason code. This provides us with detailed information on statistically significant variations in performance, which can be further analyzed to identify trends and patterns and improvement opportunities. As the process improves, the trigger level can be increased. The trigger can also be set to different levels for different SKUs.

But these 'reason codes' could be obtained from the PLC, so why bother? The answer lies in the importance of the human factor. The Operator is forced to think, and in doing so he gains insight into what he might do better next time. The Operators also get some satisfaction from their increased participation in process improvement. Their input is required and their opinion is valued, and this is reinforced when management takes action on the problems Operators write about most. The new HDS allows management to compare operator reasons with PLC reasons for those periods below the trigger. In this way, we can confirm the Operator's observations and ensure that we are not misled by PLC data that may not tell the whole story.

The new HDS from HMC will be available at the end of Q1 of 2004. Stay tuned for more information on this commercial grade system, or contact HMC for further details.

The new Holistic Data System (HDS) will have all the benefits of the Hourly Data System that HMC has developed and installed in numerous client facilities over the last 8 years, along with a number of enhancements to make it more powerful and more user-friendly. With the Hourly Data System some clients have achieved as much as 35% improvements in production in the first month, we expect even greater success with the new HDS.

The HDS is a visual system that can easily be configured to a number of parameters including shifts, crews, standard work week, time measurement intervals, trigger levels, brands, stop-codes, etc. Like the Hourly Data System, it overcomes many of the weaknesses of traditional shop-floor data collection systems. The HDS provides real-time information, comparing performance at regular time intervals with historic performance for each production module. Each hour is a new hour, so Operators are motivated to reach short-term performance targets throughout their shift (in most cases hourly). The graphic display makes it easy to recognize trends in production so proactive measures can be taken before a major problem occurs. Management can monitor production and gain a better understanding of what factors are limiting, or facilitating, Operator performance.

The new HDS is capable of retrieving production data directly from the packers (or case packers) and will interface with the makers to download fault codes for below-trigger performance intervals. All charts and graphs are generated automatically, with enhanced flexibility allowing analysis by cell, machine type, crew, etc. The second phase of development will integrate the HDS with SAP, allowing you to download throughput and reject data to SAP and enabling the integration of maintenance tasks with the SAP system.

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