Eskridge Reduces Scrap and Increases Productivity with 1factory
Engineering and Manufacturing Complex Products
Eskridge designs and manufactures custom, application-specific gear drives for aerospace, farming, energy, marine, industrial, and other applications. Eskridge's unique combination of design and manufacturing capabilities, along with its commitment to quality and on-time delivery, make it the preferred partner of choice to its customers.
A Culture of Continuous Improvement
In late 2021, the Eskridge team identified an opportunity to improve efficiency by digitizing their paper-based quality control process in the machining area. At the time, when a part was to be machined, the part drawing, which often ran into multiple sheets, was printed out, and features needing inspection were marked with a pen. As the part made its way through the machining process, each operator would write down their measurements on paper inspection sheets, which were filed away once the run was complete. Mike Brady, Eskridge Quality Manager says, "We were doing a lot of manual quality review, and most of it didn't take place until after the job was done. It was difficult to take preventative measures because we couldn't see when inspections had been made, or even if all the right checks had been completed." Mike and his team determined that a digital quality system would improve communication regarding exactly what each operator needed to inspect, making the resulting measurements more accessible and meaningful. The hope was that this, in turn, would lead to fewer scrapped parts, less rework, and shorter lead times on machined components. Once it was identified that a digital quality control system was needed, several systems were considered and evaluated, and the 1Factory Quality Control solution was chosen.
Digitizing Quality Control with 1factory
Mike acknowledges that moving from ad-hoc inspections to formal, predefined inspection criteria took some effort, but he also says it has paid off tremendously. "We have about 900 different internal SKUs, probably 1,400 total including what we get from suppliers. So that was a lot of inspection plans to build up in the beginning, but that leg work has paid major dividends. We no longer have to scrap whole batches of parts, just a few one-offs here and there. We can now catch issues right when they happen." Apart from the reduced scrap and rework, Mike says it is much clearer to the operators what the exact requirements are for the parts they make, and what is critical to quality for each part: "Before 1factory, we weren't giving the operators great tools to be able to meet the quality requirements we had set for them. So getting away from the pen and paper and into something digital where we can clearly define what we want people to inspect, when the inspections need to happen, and what the pass/fail criteria are for each dimension – it’s all been super critical for us." Mike adds that the operators enjoy using the system too. “When something does go wrong, they can point back to 1factory and say, 'I did my inspections on this day at this time.' So they can prove that they did the work that we asked them to do, and we can get to the actual cause of the issue much quicker.”
Quality as a Competitive Edge
Eskridge has a consistent track record of delivering quality products, and the shift to 1factory is just one piece of a much larger philosophy. "Our consistent quality really gives us a competitive edge, not only in being able to ensure the parts we build meet our customers' requirements, but also the technologies we invest in help advance and simplify processes throughout the organization. At the end of the day, simple processes are much more likely to be followed. Something that’s super convoluted and complex is going to lead to confusion, so when you get to the point where you can have everything clearly laid out for everyone involved, people are going to be more likely to follow those procedures. You're going to have success on the shop floor, and your customers are going to get on-time, high-quality parts."