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Where Did My Scrap Go?

Quality Management System (QMS)
July 26, 2023

Manufacturers can build a strong operational supply chain that transforms their company by building a robust digital foundation for manufacturing processes. It allows them to streamline production processes and improve efficiency at lower costs than competitors.

While implementing software to address manufacturing inefficiency, many companies miss an unseen backdoor access that creates scrap and waste or doesn’t manage those outputs digitally, as well as other processes.

Scrap and waste are often among the last areas to be included in process improvement, but addressing them can yield significant benefits for the bottom line. If left unnoticed, they can become a silent drain on operations.

How Scrap Goes Unnoticed

While many companies systemize production processes with software and automation, their initial adoption may not include proper protocols for handling waste and how to mitigate or prevent it on the production line. Operators may accidentally mix incompatible materials or forget a critical step in the process, resulting in an unusable product. Equipment failure can also contribute to scrap and waste.

Another leading scrap culprit is the lack of accurate record-keeping. It’s not always what you see and record that causes a problem; instead, it’s what isn’t noticed or recorded. Without proper documentation and standardized SOPs that consider scrap generation, it can be challenging to pinpoint the root cause of a problem after the fact and take corrective action.

For example, if a batch of product is scrapped due to contamination, it may be challenging to identify which raw material was the culprit without detailed record-keeping. And if scrap rates aren’t closely monitored and documented, it can be difficult to identify trends and make data-driven decisions to improve processes.

This disconnect is almost always due to manual processes. For mixed material, human error on the production line, and other mistakes, there may be a lack of SOPs addressing how to avoid them. Likewise, the time-lagged nature of manual systems or disparate software means SOPs may not be updated on time to prevent such problems.

Many companies use a fully manual data tracking and recording system, and the needs of the production recording are so labor intensive that they can miss or leave out steps for scrap. Or, they may use disparate legacy software to try and systemize some processes yet retain the manual parts of the quality, waste, and scrap recording due to system deficiencies or time.

How the Right Software Helps You Keep Track of Scrap

In a smart manufacturing environment, scrap isn’t just a number or a task - it’s part of an equation needed to identify the root causes of problems. Quality Management System (QMS) software automates processes, data collection, and analysis, making it easier to identify trends and make data-driven decisions. 

With automated processes providing operators with clear, concise instructions, mistakes are significantly reduced. For example, QMS software offers real-time instructions for operators to alert them if a critical step has been omitted. Another key advantage of the software is its ability to provide greater visibility and control over the production process. The real-time tracking of materials and products pinpoints areas for improvement and enables corrective action before significant problems arise.

Scrap, Software, and Your Operational Supply Chain

Advanced QMS software is an integral part of a smart manufacturing system. With it, you can implement automated workflows and SOPs that account for scrap without manual processes. The same real-time data that drives the other components of smart manufacturing work for scrap reduction, updating procedures and documents as new data becomes available.

If you’d like to learn more about reducing scrap, improving quality, and beginning your journey toward a smart manufacturing environment, read our new Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer’s Guide to learn more.

About the Author

Plex DemandCaster Supply Chain Planning

Plex DemandCaster