Quality affects every aspect of manufacturing, encompassing the totality of features, services, customer interactions and promises that comprise a product offering. While many people think of quality as a manufacturing issue, quality should permeate every aspect of the organization, encompassing processes as diverse as order entry, stockroom picking, invoice creation and supplier performance, in addition to production quality.
Using Metrics to Measure Quality
Quality is not just an end-of-the-line process—it is a mindset that the entire organization must subscribe to. As such, quality is a key part of company strategy, controlling costs and acting as an early warning system when any process goes awry.
Business Process Documentation
Unless processes are fully and accurately documented, employees may not understand their roles. Documentation is also a requirement for most industry and government certifications, so it is beneficial to ensure that processes are documented.
Both QAD Process Maps and the document management functions inside QAD CEBOS Quality Management System (QMS) are excellent solutions for process documentation. One of the best ways that electronic document management helps ensure process accuracy and reduce costs is to eliminate paper printouts, which can quickly go out of date.
Design for Quality
Advanced product quality planning (APQP) and other design for quality initiatives can improve quality and minimize unnecessary costs such as rework starting with product inception through the entire product lifecycle. QAD CEBOS incorporates design for quality functionality that can help your design team meet quality and cost objectives while still meeting time to market goals. Most industry standards recommend design for quality.
Most product designs undergo changes over the course of the product life cycle, and an effective corrective action and preventive action (CAPA) system can help ensure that changes are incorporated at the most cost-effective time—or help the team track down every unit when the change is safety-related.
Many organizational training programs are expensive yet ineffective because they don’t include mechanisms for tracking training compliance or ensuring that employees receive the proper process and safety training before assigning them to jobs. Companies can use the training built into QAD CEBOS QMS to monitor training compliance. Training is a key component of most compliance frameworks, so in a highly regulated industry such as automotive or life sciences, these metrics can help ensure compliance with requirements.
Statistical process control (SPC) improves quality by providing alerts when processes threaten to go outside defined parameters. The early warning system helps identify operating conditions in effect at the exact time the problem occurs, simplifying troubleshooting. Connected equipment (IoT) and SPC prevents the creation of poor-quality items that must be scrapped or reworked.
Quality Audit Management
If industry or government standards apply to you, having quality audit software can reduce the downtime and cost of undergoing periodic audits. The best solutions, like those from QAD CEBOS, incorporate the ability to do trial audits that can identify problems well in advance of official audits, giving the team a chance to correct process gaps.
Tracking and Tracing
Food and beverage, automotive or medical device recalls can be astronomically expensive. Tracking and tracing helps control the cost by showing the current location of every unit affected by process or component anomalies. The ability to determine with pinpoint accuracy which items must be included can reduce recall costs and make the entire process more manageable.
Your products are only as good as the materials you use, and your ability to meet delivery promises depends on having necessary components of expected quality in-house and on time. Late or poor quality deliveries can put production schedules in jeopardy, cause unplanned downtime, or prevent your company from meeting delivery promises to your customers.
QAD Cloud ERP includes built-in metrics to monitor supplier quality and delivery performance and makes it easy to share performance and trend information with each supplier.
In-process inspections can help pinpoint problems in production processes. QAD Cloud ERP includes the ability to conduct inspections at any point in the production process as well as at receiving. In addition to pass/fail data, QAD Cloud ERP also stores test results or other quality attributes.
Best Practices for Quality
- Remember that quality is a company strategy, not a department strategy
- Document processes electronically
- Adopt effective CAPA procedures for managing electronic communication networks (ECNs)
- Design for Quality; don’t try to inspect it in
- Never skimp on training
- Do periodic internal quality process audits
- Measure supplier performance and communicate results
- Require suppliers to meet performance goals to retain approved supplier status
- Use IoT and SPC for early warning on potential quality problems
W. Edwards Deming stated the most important aspect of quality as a metric: “Quality starts in the boardroom.” This makes it clear that when management cares about quality, it becomes easier to adopt processes and procedures that automatically result in higher, more repeatable quality and consistently lower costs.
What challenges are you finding most significant when it comes to quality management? Let us know in the comments section below.