Does your pandemic response plan include your gage calibration management program? It should.

PWC reported earlier this year that around 80% of manufacturers feared the COVID-19 pandemic would have a negative financial impact on their business. As the pandemic has ground on, most of these fears have been realized.

Demand for manufactured goods has plummeted in such sectors as technology, aerospace, automotive, apparel, home furnishings, food and consumer goods. Supply chains have been interrupted by shortages of materials and parts and by reduced availability of transportation and logistics providers. The energy sector has been affected simultaneously by supply chain disruptions and a drop in demand.

At the same time, certain consumer packaged goods and medical products are seeing major spikes in demand and pressure to increase production. While the medical lab sector has seen a major downturn based on the overall health of medical industries, they face increasing pressure to perform as the healthcare industry evolves rapidly in a number of directions that were unexpected before the pandemic.

Companies across the globe (those that have survived thus far) have put pandemic response plans in place that attempt to strike a balance between financial survival and the health and wellbeing of the people they serve. So how does calibration management fit into your pandemic response planning?

 

FINANCIAL SURVIVAL

Your gage management program can directly impact your organization’s financial health in a number of ways that might not all be obvious.

Software Costs

The first cost concern, of course, is simply the cost of the applications and systems you use to manage calibration data. Do you have your software budget locked up in some costly platform that’s expensive to purchase, maintain or upgrade? Do you have to pay for additional seat licenses if you want to distribute calibration management duties throughout your organization or across locations? Do you have to pay for training because the system is more complex than it should be? Does every little bell, whistle or upgrade force you to reach into your pocket and fork over more cash?

A lot of calibration management products use outmoded pricing models that severely restrict your efficiency and productivity. But look around at the software models that are driving change in other areas. Good software democratizes innovation by driving down the cost of ownership, freeing users to personalize their digital experience, and tying value directly to success. That’s a completely different proposition than making you pay to collaborate more effectively.

There are fabrication shops and independent labs all over the world that are forced to cobble together homemade calibration solutions out of Excel, simply because the so-called market leaders are too expensive and complex to even consider. (There are giant corporations doing this too, of course, for whatever reason.) A dedicated, state-of-the-art SaaS-based calibration platform, on the other hand, can easily be affordable for any size organization, if pricing is based on your actual usage – meaning the number of tools managed – instead of individual user licenses. Lowering calibration costs lowers the cost of your pandemic response plan.

Increased Productivity

If you rely on a gage management platform that lives on a single desktop accessible to one or two calibration managers, you are literally throwing money away. The lost opportunity costs associated with such systems are significant. When the people who have the password and are trained on the system are out sick, working from home or tied up with other work, managing gage data simply stops. Even when they’re operating at full capacity, in a large organization, they’re bogged down with logistical inefficiencies.

One of our customers had a calibration manager in a large plant who was responsible for over 300 calibration-related duties per week. She spent her days walking from her office to her gage locations to perform calibrations or get calibration data from tool owners, then walking back to her office to record it in a complex, antiquated desktop system. She was about to leave out of frustration. The company registered for a low-cost GageList account that allows unlimited users at no extra cost, and can be accessed on any device, anywhere, any time. Now the whole company collaborates on managing gages, and the calibration manager can actually manage. Audits (internal and external) are a snap, and their compliance has improved significantly.

Risk Issues

We had a disturbing conversation with another customer a couple of years ago. After a long search, they had hired a calibration manager and then paid to have a trainer come from their legacy software provider. Two weeks after the trainer left, the new hire quit, leaving them with no one who knew how to use the software. Six months’ worth of calibration data had piled up before and after the coming and going of the new hire, for two reasons: First, their expensive, complicated software didn’t have the ability to instantly upload or import data from their calibration vendors’ certificates, and second, no one knew the software well enough to step in and enter the data manually. A quality consultant confided to us that it was known that measuring instruments were not being calibrated, and it was “not a matter of if, but when” a major quality-related disaster would happen – one that would “be on the front page of the newspaper.”

With GageList and GageList Mobile on multiple employee-owned devices, the company was able to quickly distribute calibration and data importing duties among select members of their staff, completely rework their calibration management processes and get caught up not only on needed calibrations, but on recording gage data so they could get back into compliance and pass required audits. Throughout this process, they’ve been able to reduce direct human contact with tools and workstations, and keep in-person interactions to a minimum. Their GageList software has brought their calibration work processes in line with the demands of their pandemic response plan.

Modern SaaS-based multi-device platforms give companies unlimited flexibility to manage quality-related risks. Tools and records can be easily managed by anyone in the organization who understands the basics of calibration, internal and external auditors can quickly spot issues, and calibration vendors, consultants, employees and management can all collaborate in real-time so that quality risks can be identified and mitigated efficiently.

Future Considerations

Going forward, organizations will rely on modern, multi-device, cloud-based software solutions that are simple and economical, require little or no training, facilitate meaningful collaboration and support BYOD (bring your own device) IT policies. In developing GageList, we invested heavily in research to learn exactly how gage management could be brought into the 21st century. The principles we identified become critically important when you consider calibration in the context of your pandemic response plan. From a financial standpoint, you can enhance your plan with calibration software that offers the following features:

  • Unlimited users at no extra cost, instead of individual seat licenses: Design your own collaboration models and distribute work to suit your own needs.
  • Economical SaaS subscription plans based on functional usage: Pay only for the bandwidth you need.
  • Browser-based web and mobile apps: Support virtual office workflows and allow access anywhere, anytime.
  • Simple UI/UX design: So easy no training is required.
  • Customizable fields and processes: The software adapts to the way you work, instead of forcing you to adapt your business processes to the limitations of the software.
  • Remote, hands-free gage management and auditing: Keep your people safe, let them work in the most cost-efficient way possible, and knockdown barriers to collaboration and innovation.

 

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

While managements have to shepherd financial resources, they also have to protect their human assets. Your calibration software can either support or impede your efforts to implement a comprehensive pandemic response plan.

A cloud-based SaaS product can give you solutions that directly protect the health of your customers, employees, vendors and auditors.

Remote, Hands-Free Gage Management and Auditing

Clearly, the act of calibration often requires some sort of onsite work, even if it’s only picking up and delivering calibrated tools. But managing calibration data doesn’t. Using a browser-based app allows tool owners and quality managers to enter data from anywhere, literally. With our mobile gage management app, any user can scan a barcode on a tool and find it in the database instantly, without touching anything but their own mobile device. There is no need to be in contact with anyone else to transfer, enter, verify, edit or manage any gage data. Managers and auditors can verify and update gages from home, or from anywhere, for that matter.

No Need to Share Workstations

With single-user desktop systems, you simply can’t collaborate. And if you want to have multiple people handle gage management, they have to share a workstation. With multi-device, cloud-based SaaS products, your unlimited calibration techs and managers use their own devices (whether BYOD or company-assigned).

No Trainers or Installers Required

Desktop software, by its nature, requires a greater degree of hands-on activity than SaaS alternatives. Some products have to be installed, upgraded or maintained by vendors or IT personnel, which can require contact. These complex systems also require training as well. Some of the legacy software providers have pivoted to remote training, which is good, but training on software shouldn’t be necessary at all. The bottom line is that when any software is device-dependent, contact by others with that device is almost unavoidable.

 

FLEXIBLE, LONG-TERM GAGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

With the pandemic in full swing, every measure you can take to mitigate both financial and health risks has immense value. How your organization adapts to change depends in part on the digital tools you have at your fingertips. You now have tremendous opportunities to not only quickly pivot to minimize operational challenges from the COVID crisis, but also to create lasting value long after the pandemic is over.

For a confidential consult on how to use web-based and mobile software to support your pandemic response strategies, especially concerning calibration management, contact the GageList team today.

GageList is a registered trademark of Espresso Moon LLC, a US-based developer of innovative “third wave” business software focused on business process management, quality, compliance and operational excellence.

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