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A lot of people claim to have a “6th Sense” when assessing a situation.  But, when it comes to making a business investment, having a benchmark and being able to quantify improvements is essential. Making process improvements in your process may require an investment in financial, personnel or temporal resources and in order to justify the investment, you may need more than a sense in order to get the necessary support. change-is-childsplay-4-1056970-1279x852

No matter what problem solving methodology used within your plant, most start by defining the problem.  And part of this initial step includes identifying measures of process performance and establishing a baseline. An often overlooked reason for this step is to ensure the gains are sustained after improvements have been implemented.

Listed below are some metrics that can be used to measure process performance.

  1. First Pass Yield.  This measures the number of good units produced against the total number of units produced.  Depending on your process, this measurement can be broken down by department, by machine or by operator.
  2. Value Added vs Non-Value Added Time.  Gathering data for this can be done via Value Stream Mapping or through Time Observations. From these studies, value and non-value added steps can be identified.  As non-value added time is reduced, process output should increase.
  3. % Uptime.  By defining % Uptime as outlined below, this measurement also takes into account set-up, changeovers, loading, unloading, idle time, breaks, cleaning, maintenance, etc.
% Uptime = (Value Added Time) x 100
            (Operating Time)
  1. Process Capability, Cp or Cpk. In order for a process to be considered capable, it needs to be stable.  Process stability means having consistent centering around the mean and predictable variation.

As you look towards making improvements in your process, try to pick a metric currently in use (or one that should be implemented) and use that to establish a baseline.  Then utilize that metric to show areas which need improvement. Additionally after changes are made, data is available to document the improvement and provide a metric to sustain the gains.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to