When you’ve got a hard deadline, efficiency is everything. No one knows this better than Santa, who has the same hard deadline to meet every year. While he has the entire year to prepare for December 25th, he’s also preparing up until the last second to make sure he’s got all the presents for all the good children, all the coal for the bad ones, and that he hasn’t mixed the two lists up.
So, how does Santa keep on top of all these tasks? If parents have a hard time getting their Christmas shopping done on time, how does Santa actually make all those toys for children the world over? He’s embraced automation with a digital production records software solution.
We like to think of Santa as putting his elves to work in a quaint workshop where they use hand tools to make wooden cars, baby dolls and train sets. However, this hasn’t been the case for decades. With so many children wanting the same toys, you can bet that last year’s fidget spinners weren’t made one by one. The elves now spend their time performing quality checks, running reports, and configuring their software to make sure they make the best, safest toys possible.
This shows that there’s more to making toys than just … making toys. Variants have to be approved, materials have to be acquired, deviations have to be reviewed, and there are hundreds of dotted lines that Santa has to sign. With an ever-expanding customer base, Santa’s had to expand his operation. The best way to do that and maintain quality is to embrace automation.
This required Santa and his elves to branch into new territory. Santa had to offer tuition reimbursement, the elves had to go back to school, and the entirety of Santa’s workshop had to be redesigned. In moving his workshop into the 21st century, Santa was looking for a software solution that was easy to use, easy to validate, and easy to integrate with other processes. To handle children’s wish lists, Santa had to create a digital production records wish list with the following criteria.
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Santa might have a year between each of his deadlines, but kids don’t send in their wish lists a year in advance. In reality, Santa has only a few months to read through billions of lists, make the toys, and plan out his delivery route. Considering everything that goes into each toy that is produced, Santa needs a system that does what he needs it to do correctly and immediately. This system should have checks in place to make sure that all information entered in is in the correct format. It should also perform calculations automatically based on that information, instead of making the elves do the calculations themselves.
Considering the massive number of toys that Santa makes, he needs a lot of equipment. And all that equipment needs to be calibrated regularly to make sure it performs as needed. But schedules that aren’t automated are prone to human – or elvish – error. The right digital production records system can compensate for this by automating calibrating schedules and triggering calibration events. Not only does this ensure that calibration happens on time, it also frees up time for the elves to focus on more important tasks.
Even with a little Christmas magic, things don’t always go as planned at the North Pole. In fact, sometimes they’re downright disastrous. When this happens, Santa needs digital production records that can communicate with his other systems. When there’s a deviation, the elves have to make sure that it’s acceptable by recording, assessing and approving the deviation before it occurs. If something about the manufacturing process requires corrective action, the elves have to be able to launch a corrective action preventive action (CAPA) from the digital production records page. With all of his systems integrated, when Santa needs to make a change it can happen quickly. If the systems were disconnected, toy production would have to be put on hold until the change could be made. This would hold up the process and leave a lot of children unhappy on Christmas morning.
Santa knows that to keep making the children of the world happy, he has to continually improve his operation. The best way to do this is through data, but having disconnected systems or manual systems makes it difficult to gather and analyze that data. Or to be sure that you have it all. With the right digital production records system, Santa can see which of his toys take the longest to make, if there are any bottlenecks in his processes, and if a particular toy tends to have more quality issues than others.
Vital to the manufacturing process, Santa can keep an even closer eye on his equipment than he does on who’s naughty or nice. With pre-configured forms, Santa can see maintenance history, current maintenance tasks, maintenance tasks that are past due and corrective maintenance by cause. These analytical capabilities let Santa and his elves get to the root of the problem and avoid further issues by addressing that first.
Ultimately, what Santa, and most companies, needs is a system that’ll be compliant with local regulatory requirements. Santa’s new digital production records system meets those requirements and is easy to validate. Furthermore, this new manufacturing solution has an audit trail that is easily accessible and automated. This means that if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or another regulatory body, finds a safety issue with one of Santa’s toys, he can easily show what was done to provide the best safeguards possible and can pinpoint where things went wrong.
Santa’s new manufacturing solution means that he still makes a list, but he doesn’t have to check it twice. The system keeps track of who’s naughty or nice. So even when the FDA comes to town, Santa’s workshop keeps producing enough toys for children around the world.
Sarah Beale is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in business administration from DeVry University.