Once the process improvement work is complete, process owners typically assume everything will remain in an optimum state. However, future process adjustments, product changes or raw material substitutions can all lead to degradation in the recent process improvements or create entirely new problems.
As a closing step in the original corrective process, the customer can contract with the optimization engineers to provide some sort of automated monitoring to identify and ward off results erosion. The data collection systems used for the original diagnostics step are typically left in place, providing faster access to the data needed to analyze new issues as they arise, avoid results erosion and ensure that the improvement will be sustained.
“The process owner can choose to implement continuous monitoring of their systems by outside optimization engineers,” Murphy explains. “Continuous monitoring allows periodic reviews of the process and compares it to the benchmarks established in the test phase. Where the customer will allow a network connection to their process, optimization engineers can rely on remote monitoring to gain visibility to the system at any time and from any place. This enables the optimization engineers to monitor the performance of the system and provide remote consulting.”
These remote connections are typically accomplished via the Internet. While there is tremendous value in this remote access, these links should never be established before potential security issues are thoroughly considered and addressed. The process must be protected from hackers, viruses and other attackers.
The customer can negotiate the appropriate outside services to sustain the improvement in their process, and can select weekly or monthly remote assessments of system performance. If the optimization engineers detect results erosion or new potential issues, they can address them proactively, often before the issue is evident in product quality. They can often aid or direct the customer’s in-house process experts to help them quickly resolve the problem.
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