The Future of Quality Is Artificial Intelligence


2020-bl-optimization-opportunities-data-ai_715x320It’s been quite a year. Fortunately, it’s almost over. The pandemic proved that digital systems were essential in allowing companies to quickly pivot and adapt. COVID-19 is unique in that it was a single disruptive event that hit every company in every industry simultaneously. Disruption is nothing new; it just usually isn’t so universal. To help companies better adapt to change, we’ve put our R&D efforts into an analytics tool that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to inform decision-making. With it, users will be able to use their data to create interactive, real-time dashboards and reports with just a few clicks. In keeping with our platform approach, the new tool will connect all quality data across all MasterControl solutions in real time.

This tool, MasterControl Insights, was a main topic at our 2020 user summit. Two of the foremost experts on the subject, SVP of Strategic Growth Brian Curran and Product Management Director Sue Marchant, explained the benefits of the analytics tool and how it can help on a day-to-day basis in quality and manufacturing.

Save Your Steps

In the midst of the holidays, you might be trying to walk as much as possible to get extra steps. While that’s an admirable goal, getting steps by collecting data on the shop floor is an exercise in futility. A quality control person in a manufacturing facility spends considerable time walking around, trying to ensure each line stays within acceptable quality limits. Insights will let users take a break by displaying that information from a dashboard on a computer or device.

In addition to saving steps, Insights also saves sanity. Trying to keep track of data is enough to drive anyone crazy. Then there’s the added problem of getting current data. Depending on the data, it can fluctuate by minute or second. That means that in the time it takes to collect the data and walk back to your desk, it’s already inaccurate. Quality managers can’t make good decisions based on old or outdated data, so they need access to the most up-to-date data instantly. With that access, new avenues open up.

The Practicalities

From a practical standpoint, this type of advanced analytics helps with the questions and problems that plague quality professionals in their everyday work. Or the questions and problems that their superiors ask about. One of the biggest time-saving features of Insights will be that managers and executives will be able to see data themselves that was formerly compiled for them manually. The metrics that they used to see once a quarter will now be instantly and continually available to them with no effort from anyone else. The data will also be more accurate and current, which helps everyone making decisions based on that data.

From a training standpoint, this data is invaluable. MasterControl already offers users quick access to training records and unique exam tools, but Insights will offer more. For example, if you want to know how effective an exam is, you’ll be able to see that in Insights. You can also see if a specific exam takes longer or gets poorer results, or if an employee has trouble keeping up on training. You’ll be able to understand things like which standard operating procedures (SOPs) or work instructions are associated with the most retraining, which courses are most frequently failed, or what outstanding training might prevent someone from working on the line for a particular product.

The Possibilities

Over time, with more data, Insights will be able to offer more. Some of that data will come from steps in the manufacturing process. Our customers that use MasterControl Manufacturing Excellence™ have production records that average 300 steps. But some of them have 1,000 steps. Before they switched to a digital solution, little if any data was collected because the production records were paper-based. What passed in between the first and last steps was largely unknown. However, this is no longer the case for those who combine Manufacturing Excellence with Insights. Those users will understand exactly what is taking place during each phase of the manufacturing process — how long a step is taking, where inefficiencies might exist, and whether or not performance at that step is improving.

Once the system has enough data, it can determine the ideal line makeup in terms of quality, efficiency or yield. For example, to improve yield on line three, users would select those parameters, and Insights can tell which team members should be on that line and what the estimated improvement in quality will be. Similarly, the solution can reveal which operators are most efficient at which step. It can also help with compliance by monitoring a line and informing users of events that might lead to defects and deviations.

Conclusion

Quality and manufacturing produce enormous amounts of data, but much of that remains unused. Data analytics solutions such as MasterControl Insights will change that. By bringing data together, we can use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to make better decisions. This won’t just help with compliance, it will help improve quality and allow users to innovate at a lower cost.

Stay tuned for the official release in 2021.


2019-bl-author-sarah-beale

Sarah Beale is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl in Salt Lake City, where she writes white papers, web pages, and is a frequent contributor to the company’s blog, GxP Lifeline. Beale has been writing about the life sciences and health care for over five years. Prior to joining MasterControl she worked for a nutraceutical company in Salt Lake City and before that she worked for a third-party health care administrator in Chicago. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in business administration from DeVry University.


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