Short Interval Control (SIC)

How can companies prevent production losses before it’s too late? It makes sense to deliver continuous improvement to support production targets. Yet continuous improvement requires continuous data analysis, which can be time-demanding and tough to schedule during industry production phases. This is where short interval control can make a huge difference by delivering focused real time data reviews. 

In this article we’ll explain short interval control and how it can benefit production performance in different industry sectors, such as mining, manufacturing, etc. 


Short Interval Control (SIC) – An Overview

Short interval control is a type of Kaizen process that is designed to support a culture of continuous improvement. It relies on employees actively seeking improvement actions and solutions on behalf of the industry. 

Kaizen is a continuous improvement strategy that combines the collective talents within the team and encourages them to work together to achieve significant and incremental improvements to the production processes in a business. 

In a lean business, Kaizen becomes the standard way of thinking for both floor employees and their managers. The purpose of the Kaizen approach to solutions is to involve not only higher level management but also the tech operators and the employees, to improve the production output. 

What is Short Interval Control?

Short interval control, or SIC for short, refers to a structured process used to identify and act on opportunities during a production shift. By providing quick and focused reviews of the available real time performance data, the SIC meeting allows immediate small scale fixes and corrections mid shift. The implemented corrections collectively result in significant improvements in productivity and performance. 

Man worker in manufacturing implementing short interval control data

The Typical Kaizen Process & SIC

Kaizen events follow a process cycle, typically described as PDCA. 

  • Plan: Developing a hypothesis
  • Do: Running experiments
  • Check: Evaluating results
  • Act: Refining the experiments before starting a new cycle

The Kaizen cycle process is a structured system that needs to meet different targets at any stage before moving to the next one. The targets will vary depending on the type of Kaizen process, whether it is SIC or any other performance and productivity improvement system, the business objectives, and real time data availability. 

When it comes to short interval control, the SIC meeting acts as a node of the cycle system. The SIC meetings follow the PDCA structure to tailor their actions specifically to the performance and production challenges at hand. 

SIC Meetings & How to Run Them?

As explained, the SIC process is primarily driven by SIC meetings. 

What are SIC Meetings?

These are designed to be hyper focused, quick, and time-limited. During the meetings, the main goal is to identify and develop a set of improvement actions that will rapidly benefit production and its efficiency. 

These production management processes allow workers to provide progress feedback against expectations of their allocated tasks per shift and advise managers of issues in real time. Improvement solutions address bottleneck problems and set realistic performance targets for the next SIC interval control.

Each SIC interval results in achievable and accountable actions for the next review interval control. 

Man worker in manufacturing plant reviewing short interval control process

Best Practices for Running SIC Review Meetings

When running these, time is of the essence as they occur during a production shift. The preferred duration is between 5 to 10 minutes, which is why it tends to be a stand-up catch-up and review before getting employees back to the manufacturing floor. For practical purposes, the location is near or at the production process. 

The SIC meeting works with a small team of 3 to 4 persons involving:

  • Control room operators, ideally lead operators
  • Maintenance team
  • Line operators, management or supervisor
  • Engineer

Key Success Factors for Short Intervals

A successful SIC system relies on meeting essential effectiveness and productivity conditions, namely:

  • Promoting the Kaizen culture within the business
  • Ensuring full support from the management level
  • Receiving high quality data for quick identification and analysis of all significant production losses
  • Capturing results and actions 

It becomes essential to document the SIC review in order to encourage action commitment, support shift handovers, and provide auditing materials for training and future short intervals. In a data driven environment, it makes sense to document reviews in a database system, which can not only connect to existing OEE solutions but also ensures fast and reliable performance data analysis. 


Standardize Your SIC Agenda

SIC reviews follow a clear 4-part structure designed to maintain short intervals fast, relevant, efficient, and productive during a production shift:

  1. Review the previous losses
  2. Assess the previous actions
  3. Identify the next risks
  4. Decide on the next actions

Review the Previous Losses

This step reviews data from the previous interval control in order to compare the overall production performance against the previous short interval control goals. This helps determine the top 3 losses and whether they should be fixed in the next interval. 

Assess the Previous Actions

This step evaluates the effectiveness of the last SIC actions and whether further action is needed. 

Identify the Next Risks

The short interval control team reviews the plan for production to determine whether events and changes will impact productivity and performance. For instance, this could be a change of shift, the arrival of new equipment, or scheduled equipment maintenance. They also identify preparatory tasks and actions to reduce the impact of the changes. 

Decide on the Next Actions

Lastly, the review meeting decides the next set of actions. These will prioritize issues, allocate the resources to each action, and establish a target for the next interval meeting. 

Short Interval Control (SIC) process by worker in manufacturing plant

Benefits of Short Interval Control

Many industries successfully deploy SIC strategies to review their production performance data during a shift and implement mid process small scale fixes that can collectively result in overall benefits to the production. But to put it clearly, what are those benefits: 

  • Informed, documented, and data driven decisions eliminate subjective actions. 
  • The OEE improves. In traditional industries such as the mining sector, SIC allows operators to effectively and accurately forecast shifts, which ensures production control and safety. Data collection digitalization can improve equipment and resources availability, overall performance, and production output quality. 
  • The business improvement rate increases. Firstly, this reduces production losses, saving companies hours that would usually be lost to shift changes, equipment maintenance or issues, etc. But these hours do not just represent a timely benefit, aka higher productivity, but also significant savings when it comes to costs. 
  • Employees are more engaged, which drops turnover rates and boosts overall employee retention and productivity. 
  • Lastly, continuous improvements become part of the daily work, hence building a positive work culture. 

If you wish to find out more about the relationship between SIC and OEE, we encourage you to reach out to our team of experts.