March 4, 2019

An Interview with Bill Black – Part II

Scortex met Bill Black, Former Group Quality Director of ABB and previously Airbus, to understand the Cost of Quality of that multinational.


Where do you see technology providing most quality benefits to large multinationals such as ABB?

“Many companies nowadays are using massive data assimilation and sophisticated data presentation techniques to provide senior management with unprecedented visibility of performance. The problem with this approach however is that the most senior management team in any company is unlikely to be able to effectively interpret these data and make sensible decisions on how to fix the underlying issues.

A much more practical and implementable approach is apply these modern data analysis and decision support tools to tackle issues directly at the Line or Plant Manager level. The possibility exists now to provide him/her in real time, not only with the data to show that a problem exists (they usually know that already), but to suggest solutions, for example by referencing global company data to show where similar problems have existed, and how they were solved. At this point you are presenting the manager closest to the site of the issue with potential solutions, rather than simply improved visibility of a problem.”

Is Industry 4.0 a game changer?

“Productivity growth and quality improvement are never ending activities, with gains hard fought for using the best tools as they become available. The past 35 years has seen a number of Game Changing developments in supporting tools (eg ERP and CAD systems…) and also in processes (Lean Six Sigma…) all of which promised game changing results, and all of which still only delivered incremental improvements, and even then, only if deployed effectively. If badly rolled out, and this was unfortunately the case in many companies, they destroyed rather than generated value. I see Industry 4.0 as simply the next generation of supporting tools and have confidence that it will also deliver further incremental benefits to those who implement it effectively.”

Are there any regions of the world where you see a heightened need for Visual Inspection Solutions?

“The industrial manufacturing community is driven by management incentives which focus generally on delivering more, faster, cheaper. In certain environments this drives managers to both accept from their suppliers and themselves to subsequently deliver sub-standard goods all along the supply chain, with very costly consequences. I believe you are on the right track by investigating the potential for automated inspection assistance to help deliver and maintain more consistent quality levels throughout the supply chain.”

How would you classify the role of Scortex in the pursuit of improved Quality?

“Scortex provides an accurate and repeatable quality analysis tool which does not suffer from fatigue nor from the unavoidable human variability. It can learn quickly and then be instantly deployed throughout a global factory network but can also continue to learn in operation to further improve its capability. This should enable a solid business case to be easily generated for deployment of the system. Enhancing the initial business case, Scortex goes on to provide useful data to detect defect trends in real time, enabling effective root cause analysis to improve processes, in turn leading to savings in rework, scrap, direct material use, energy use, inventory holding etc.)

At this stage in the very rapidly developing field of machine learning, it is important that each client must be open to accept and to effectively deploy this technology, in order to secure the undoubted benefits which should be rigorously monitored over time. Success will require changes within the client, always a challenge, and this requires Scortex to maintain a very close relationship with your clients, particularly as you succeed and grow.”




Stay tuned for more blog posts on Cost Of Quality!