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Vol. 15
May Issue
Year 2014
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Nadcap Column


in Vol. 15 - May Issue - Year 2014
The Value of Flowcharts / Process Mapping





"Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words"
This adage appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting editor Arthur Brisbane when discussing journalism and publicity. The quote expounds the principle that relatively complex ideas can be shared quickly and effectively through a single still image. This can be of real benefit to companies who must adhere to strict processes. It can improve the efficiency of staff, reduce the risk of errors, as well as help identify the root cause of any NCR's.

Improved efficiency
A good flowchart is useful to help staff quickly understand any process or procedure they must perform. When a staff member begins his shift, there will be certain checks required: Is the machinery calibrated correctly? If you are mid-process, how long have the parts been in the process and when will they finish? Who is the floor manager that you must report to on the day? Any staff member who has worked for a company for an extended period will simply know these things due to their experience and habits.
However if the process changes, it can take time for people to adjust. A good quality process map can help staff understand quickly and efficiently how the changes affect them. It is also beneficial to staff dealing with tasks that are out of the ordinary. Training is crucial for staff performing new/unusual tasks; however if not practiced regularly, it can be forgotten. If there is an accident, then even with training, a member of staff may forget parts of their duties. Having a process flowchart which indicates what they need to do and in what order, as well as who they need to contact, will save precious seconds that a staff member would waste if they had to try and remember their duties.

Reduction in errors
In addition to saving time, having a process map also helps reduce errors. Aerospace processes are very strict. Having a measurement calibration out by one millimeter can mean the difference between creating a high quality product and having to rework a job because the customer returns it. A good process map will help by providing you with not only who is responsible for each aspect of the process, but also what their responsibility is, and when during the process it needs to be done. While this will be written on a document in greater detail, having it at a glance means staff can spend more time focussing on the job at hand, thus reducing the chance of error.

Dealing with NCR's
A good process flowchart can be helpful in the context of your Nadcap audits too. Nadcap audits are very stringent, and it is very difficult to achieve one with zero NCR's. Therefore, when you do receive an NCR, having a process map is a great tool to help find the root cause. Root cause analysis is crucial when dealing with your Nadcap NCR's. "Human error" is not accepted as an answer as it does not address the root cause. The first step in finding the root cause after you have formed the team and identified the problem is to gather data. A process map will allow you to compare how the process should have been done with how it was actually completed. This will help identify what data to gather and which people to question; two key parts in the process of finding the root cause. Figure 1 shows the steps you should take when finding and correcting the root cause of an NCR.
Flowcharts work as a great support tool for your process control and should be considered to ensure they work effectively to help your needs.

Learn more at www.p-r-i.org,
or contact Joanna Leigh: jleigh@p-r-i.org