Benefits to end users
When looking at S88 benefits from an end-user perspective, there can be many things to consider, but there are advantages to sticking with some of the classics used to justify technical solutions: quality, throughput (cycle time), and cost.
Quality can be somewhat abstract. Everyone wants top-quality merchandise, but there are tangible benefits to quality as well. Consider that S88 solutions provide good control for managing an operation and help track data, and this leads to tangible quality benefits:
- Abnormal (or adverse) events occur occasionally. S88’s guidelines for a standard set of states (including holding and restarting) provide a mechanism for recovering from process upsets. This can mean a lower risk to product quality and a fewer number of rejected lots. Taking a step back from a drastic adverse event causing a loss of product, simply think about the time savings of investigating fewer adverse events to see if there was quality impact.
- The first step in making a quality product is to make it consistently. Assuming we can avoid process upsets that can impact quality, think about how batch-to-batch consistency can be improved with an S88 solution. Reducing variability (increasing consistency) is so critical to the success of an operation. When variability targets are achieved, then other improvements (lowering costs, enhancing quality, reducing cycle times) can addressed.
- Increased product quality will often result as S88 provides more detailed, real-time information about the procedural part of your processes. This information can provide warnings to operators if processing parameters are at risk for falling outside of specification. The operators can then make adjustments before it becomes a real problem. Product quality investigations go faster with this data, helping with more-informed batch dispositions. This data can also feed other systems, helping you learn where variability is occurring in your process.
For the purposes of this benefit analysis, we’ll define throughput as not only the speed at which we can manufacture existing products, but also the speed at which we can launch new products. First, looking at the benefits associated with running a plant with existing products, let’s focus on improving equipment utilization and reducing downtime:
- Since S88 promotes isolating recipes from equipment, less changeover time should be needed for switching products. If equipment control has been defined properly (focusing on the capabilities of the equipment rather than the needs of the product), then the work needed in the automation for switching from one product to another should be as little as loading a new recipe. (There could be some mechanical changes required.)
- Given the modular nature of the standard, troubleshooting a problem should be easier and quicker because the recipe and the equipment control code are created in fundamental —and largely independent— blocks (modules). Furthermore, the robust approach S88 solutions have with tracking data will help diagnose problems faster because of the extensive information that can be put into a batch log, including status of phases, operator commands issued, and failures encountered.
- Even planned changes to recipes or equipment should execute quicker because of the modular S88 design. Building on that theme, the S88 modular design approach helps minimize the risk that a change to one part of the process will affect another.
Now, let’s talk about benefits associated with launching products faster:
- First, replicating parts of a process to make another is very supported by S88. This will reduce both time and cost in getting equipment ready to manufacture a new product.
- If you are planning to take an existing process and modify it so that it can make a new product, you will have a lower risk of defects resulting from your changes. The modular design of an S88 solution reduces the risk of a change to one part of equipment control from negatively impacting another.
- Because of the isolation of recipes from equipment, the time needed to add or modify a recipe is greatly reduced.
- Finally, do not underestimate the power of common terminology and models to communicate both with the users of your process, as well as any OEM or other vendors that may be helping you build it. Getting everyone on the same page with terms and definitions is often a fundamental challenge with designing and constructing any new process.
We decided to list cost last, as improvements in quality and throughput also have a direct relationship to reducing manufacturing costs. Let’s just list a few examples:
- Fewer rejected lots
- Better response to adverse events, leading to fewer or quicker investigations to determine quality impact
- Better equipment utilization (or less downtime due) to speedier changeovers, faster troubleshooting, and quicker planned changes
- Reduced variability, allowing more accurate scheduling of materials and planning for finished goods inventory
When looking from a new products point-of-view, let’s think in terms of revenue opportunity, not costs:
- Launching quicker means more revenue quicker; revenue that may never be made up, if launched late
- Launching quicker can also mean a huge uptake in revenue, if you beat competitors to market, and grab and hang on to market share