Within just under two years, the ceramics plant in Carregado, Portugal, has significantly improved product quality while also cutting waste rates in half. The Single Piece Tracking programme plays a key role here.
Soon after casting is completed, a fireproof sticker with a unique barcode is attached to each ceramic appliance for identification purposes. From this point on, the code provides information on both the production status and quality of each individual appliance. Among other information, the barcode includes the following: Were faults detected during glazing? Did the ceramic appliance withstand the 1,200- degree-Celsius firing process without cracking? Does the appliance need to be refired? Is the appliance flawless and ready for packaging?
Identifying the causes of a fault
For almost two years, the ceramics plant in Carregado, Portugal, has relied on a process that focuses on the Single Piece Tracking code. The goal of this process optimisation is to collect detailed information on the entire manufacturing process for each individual ceramic appliance. Based on this information, the causes of faults during production can be tracked down and avoided in future. Each time an appliance moves to the next step in the process, information is stored on when and where the last quality check was made, and what the outcome was. This means the process steps can be tracked seamlessly.
“This is our key tool when it comes to improving the quality of our products,” comments Robert Zibar, Head of Technical Production at the ceramics plant in Carregado. The team has been able to cut scrap rates in half – an impressive reduction in waste and resource consumption. At the same time, the number of complaints also fell by over 50 per cent.
A focus on quality
The barcode also gives the employees extra motivation in improving the quality of their work: “There has been some real competition between the production units,” says Miguel Pereira, supervisor in the glazing department, with a grin, before adding: “Quality has become our priority. We can now pinpoint the causes of faults and solve the problems. This spurs us all on.”