Using manufacturing data to improve our work

At Middlesex Aerospace we have long appreciated the value of data produced from manufacturing processes in our business. Providing precision engineering services to the aerospace industry means we generate large volumes of data. And this information comes from a rich variety of sources throughout our manufacturing processes and as part of the supply chain.

The challenge was to harness the data we produce and use it to support how we have embraced Kaizen. The basis of Kaizen is to continuously improve, and we empower everyone within the business to contribute. Changes can at times be almost imperceptible, but this gradual approach allows us to stay in the vanguard of delivering the highest quality standards in our work.

Data can provide insights to improve how we work. So it is important that everyone should see relevant data to help them be part of our Kaizen process. to do this, we need to present information to people and teams who could use it to improve our processes. Plus, we needed to do this fast. It’s vital we help employees to quickly identify areas that can be improved. And see the impact of decisions as they happen rather than some time in the future.

Utilising Business Intelligence

To achieve this, we invested in the adoption of a Business Intelligence platform called PowerBI. Part of the Microsoft portfolio, PowerBI is able to process data from our manufacturing processes into meaningful insight. So we can understand how our business is performing.

PowerBI also presents information in visual formats that a user can quickly understand, and act where required. And finally, PowerBI does this fast, so we are able to present information in real time. Alternatively, we can import data into other apps such as Word or PowerPoint for review.

To enable PowerBI, we connected the application to our Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) system. The feed of raw data is then analysed and presented as key metrics to staff. This is provided via displays installed throughout our facilities. Importantly, this is done in real time, so opportunities to improve can be spotted immediately. We can then see the impact of any changes as they take place.

The Power of Data in Practice

So how does work in practice? As an example, via our MRP and PowerBI platforms we can pull live data from our New Work To List system. Teams can then see relevant job information, including its location within our facilities, in real time. The data can also be displayed by its priority number. This allows us to arrange work for best response or quality results. So we can maintain critical quality standards for our aerospace clients. It also ensures Defence Safety Authority (DSA) reports – which are also included in the live data stream – reflect on work delivered to customers each day, on time and in full.

This move to real time view of work in our facilities as it happens means our staff see first-hand the benefits of reaching quality standards. They can also see improvements from changes they instigate. This makes it a great motivator for both individuals and teams to be directly involved in our relentless drive to maintain the very highest standards.

So, our work to use data through our manufacturing processes allows us to make informed and accurate decisions by using the platforms that runs Middlesex Aerospace. Helping us to continuously improve quality, deliver a better service to customers, and understand how we work faster and easier – automatically.