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  Manufacturing Insights   |   May, 2009
Real-Time Data: Same as a Diamonds Clarity, Cut, and Color
by Thomas R. Cutler
 

In the Shirley Bassey sung James Bond anthem Diamonds are Forever, she muses, "Diamonds never lie to me, for when love’s gone, they'll luster on." The same is true with accurate real-time data.
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) revolutionized the diamond industry in 1955 with its Diamond Grading Report. Based on the 4Cs of diamonds and International Diamond Grading System™, both of which GIA created, the grading report provides a comprehensive analysis of quality and authenticity for diamonds in the D-to-Z color range. It contains information on diamond shape and cutting style, measurements and weight, proportions and finish along with grades for clarity, color, and cut. In addition, it identifies any known treatments. While a number of laboratories issue similar reports, the GIA Diamond Grading Report has earned a reputation for unrivaled accuracy and integrity when assigning diamond grades.

More than a half century since that grading system was developed; the jewelry design manufacturing business has changed dramatically. The lean efficiencies experienced by large industrial companies over the past decade have trickled down to the small customer design jeweler. Erik Lopez, owner of Coral Gables, Florida-based By Design Jewelers, suggested that, "With the advent of computerized wax model carving machines (even though we rarely use these) the cost of custom jewelry has come down. The process of casting has evolved over the past few years. The machines are quicker than they used to be, while still using centrifugal force, they are electrically powered rather than manual. The bits for drilling and carving are sharper and just better in general providing a more finished look prior to heading to the polishing wheel. The wheels and compounds used to polish have become better as well. While these advances are not drastic, they actually reduce the cost of making jewelry and every minute saved has a value.”

This young jeweler, 32, is describing continued process improvement, lean manufacturing, and statistical process control. Larger jewelers such as Michael Anthony Jewelers Inc., produces more than 15,000 castings per day. Paul Finelt, Vice President of Manufacturing noted, “With such high volume, it is a substantial task to maintain the high quality we are known for and must maintain.” His firmed worked with JewelTec’s Jack Weinraub who implemented new technology in model and mold making, wax and plastic pattern production, investing and burnout, and most importantly, casting. The found they were able to resolve productivity issues, reducing reject rates, and discovered dollar and time saving solutions to complex casting difficulties.

Evan Miller, co-founder Hertzler Systems, suggested that, “Most of today’s business improvement strategies have one thing in common: the need for better data in real-time. SPC (statistical process control) software products make it easy for jewelry organizations, large or small, to acquire process data from any source, analyze that data in real-time, and instantly notify process owners of variation. This real-time process data is a crucial component of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma deployments, as well as Total Quality Management (TQM) and other continuous improvement methodologies.”

While Miller acknowledges the creative process, he emphasizes that jewelers must automate data collection from multiple sources and enforce standardized data entry procedures for users. “It is critical to ensure the reliability of your data. All of your process data is stored in our relational database for easy retrieval, analysis and reporting. Analysis wizards simplify your search for sources of variation in your data.”

This combination of rich, reliable data and powerful analytical tools empowers jewelry designers to reduce costs, cycle time, errors, and defects, and to increase profitability and customer satisfaction. Much in the way that the GIA established standards for ranking diamonds, GainSeeker, Hertzler’s real-time technology solution drives specific measurable business improvements such as:
  • Identifying defects and taking corrective action to reduce service call rate and warranty costs
  • Extracting "overspend" data from a database of purchase orders, or overfill data from a production system, to find and reduce waste in the organization
  • Analyzing the quality of raw material inputs to production, and tracking supplier performance on key metrics such as defects and variability
  • Empowering process owners to maintain the process improvements that result from business improvement efforts


Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc, (www.trcutlerinc.com). Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of three thousand five hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Committee of Concerned Journalists, as well as author of more than 300 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com. See More Details.

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